At some point in history, the word “chain” as associated with restaurants became something of a derogatory term. You could excuse customers of restaurants past for adopting a negative opinion of chains; once upon a time, the factory-style replication of restaurants within only a handful of cuisines failed to inspire good vibes for guests interested in anything beyond consistency and value.
In the past two decades, however, chain restaurants have reinvented themselves and reclaimed the term. There’s now a wonderful diversity of concepts that have graduated to that “chain” moniker, scaling creative and delicious ideas into multiunit success stories. Seemingly every community in America has that home-town favorite that struck gold and opened in another community, then another, rallying local customers to their cause.
All chains start somewhere, and with Breakout Brands, Nation’s Restaurant News set out to find those baby chains that have just begun their scaling journey. In this gallery, you’ll meet eight restaurant concepts that are spreading their wings and embracing the chain mentality, with long runways ahead of them.