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NRN Top 500: What’s up with pizza and dessert restaurants?

Plus, Dine Brands CEO John Peyton on the art and science of creating a promotion


This week on the Extra Serving podcast, a product of Nation’s Restaurant News, editors Leigh Anne Zinsmeister and Sam Oches do a deep dive into the 2024 Technomic Top 500 data.

Last week, we had a downer of a conversation about casual-dining unit retrenchment, so today we mixed it up by highlight some positive unit growth data. You might expect the largest chains to have an advantage when it comes to opening new locations, but unit growth was robust at the opposite end of the Top 500. Small chains saw truly massive expansion, so we talk about why that is and how you can harness it for yourself.

Then, we talked about the pizza players battling for share in a stagnant segment. Growth was minimal for the biggest restaurants, with clear winners and losers among smaller brands. And finally, we set out to answer a question posed by senior editor Joanna Fantozzi: Is there a dessert bubble? Nearly one-third of dessert concepts had negative unit growth last year.

Stick around for a conversation between executive editor Alicia Kelso and Dine Brands CEO John Peyton from when Kelso recently visited the Dine headquarters in Pasadena, Calif.

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All data courtesy Technomic Ignite Company data. Looking for more data? Click here to access the complete Technomic Top 500.


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