Although some of the fastest-growing chains in the Top 200 should not come as a surprise — like Shake Shack and Chick-fil-A — several brands joining the top 200 for the first time are already turning heads with robust sales and growth numbers.
Top 200 rookies Costa Mesa, Calif.- based American casual-dining concept Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar and Phoenix-based health food restaurant chain True Food Kitchen both debuted in the top 10 fastest-growing chains in the 2019 report, ranking number four and seven, respectively. Last year, both were named on-the-rise Next Gen restaurants poised to break into the Top 200.
With 30 units, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is small but mighty: The dog-friendly comfort food spot known for its diverse menu of everything from burgers and sandwiches to pizza and noodles saw a 27.1% increase in sales growth in the Latest Year to $176 million, according to Top 200 data.
Since being named a Next Gen brand to watch last summer, Lazy Dog has debuted a membership-only craft beer program at 21 units for $35 per quarter, offering guests the opportunity to try new craft beers and get exclusive beer swag. The program aims at encouraging brand engagement with guests, Laura Freeman, associate marketing manager, told NRN. As Lazy Dog continues to expand, its primary audience continues to be Millennial parents who are drawn to a new generation of casual dining.
With a menu based on anti-inflammatory foods and special dietary needs, 27-unit True Food Kitchen continues to find steady growth opportunities in its nutrition brand spearheaded by health food guru Dr. Andrew Weil. Founded in 2008 in collaboration with Fox Restaurants Concepts, the casual-dining chain saw a 22.2% increase in sales in the Latest Year to $167 million.
After being named a Next Gen brand, True Food Kitchen has seen multiple growth initiatives. In July 2018, media personality Oprah Winfrey made an equity investment in True Food Kitchen and now has a seat on its board. In May 2019, True Food Kitchen debuted its first loyalty app, taking a stab at personalized brand engagement that takes advantage of digital customer data to glean insights from purchasing habits.
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