The West remains the largest region for the top 500 restaurant chains, with 43% of total units being located in Colorado and points west.
California, the most populous state, saw 547 units open last year, second only to Texas, where 814 units opened, according to market research firm Datassential.
But Western states with relatively low populations, including Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, saw pretty high numbers of restaurant openings at 178, 122, and 99, respectively.
Chains with heavy concentrations of restaurants in the West grew faster than the national average both in terms of unit counts and sales.
That includes this year’s fastest growing chain in terms of sales and units open — Crumbl Cookies, based in Lindon, Utah — and Dutch Bros of Grants Pass, Ore., which is now the third largest coffee chain in the country, having passed Tim Hortons. Dutch Bros’ unit count is up by 18%.
Yum Brands subsidiary The Habit Burger Grill (pictured), based in Irvine, Calif., now has 338 units, up by 10.1%, and Yard House, also based in Irvine, increased its footprint by 4.9%
Other fast-growing Western chains include P.F. Chang’s, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., which increased its unit count by 4.7%, and Noodles & Company of Broomfield, Colo., which is up by 2.9%.
Sales are also up at many chains based in the West. BJ’s, based in Huntington Beach, Calif., enjoyed a sales boost of 15.2%, and Chipotle Mexican Grill, based nearby in Newport Beach, Calif., had sales of $8.6 billion last year, an increase of 14.4%. It’s now the ninth largest chain in the country in terms of sales, up from 10th last year.
The Cheesecake Factory, based in Calabasas, Calif., also saw 14.4% growth in sales and is now the 36th largest chain, up from 37th.