Posted: Jul 02, 2018
The fastest-growing restaurant chain in the United States is a pizza brand that many Americans have likely never visited.
Trade publication Nation's Restaurant News just released a list of the chains that grew the fastest in the US over the past year.
Chains including MOD Pizza, Blaze Pizza, and Shake Shack topped the list.
Up-and-coming pizza chains are taking America by storm.
In June, Nation's Restaurant News released its annual Top 200 list, which included a breakdown of the 10 fastest-growing chains as measured by American sales growth in 2017.
While these chains aren't necessarily the biggest in the United States, they're well on their way.
Opening dozens of locations in 2017 and increasing sales by millions of dollars, these brands are the ones to watch out for. If there isn't one in your town yet, there probably will be soon.
Pizza led the way in 2017, with two fast-casual pizza chains battling it out for the top spot on this year's list.
Here are the five fastest-growing restaurant chains in America:
5. Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
As casual-dining chains such as Chili's and TGI Friday's have been reworking their strategies, Cooper's Hawk has been thriving. While the chain has just 30 locations, sales increased by more than 30% and reached $241 million.
The wine-centric chain has found a niche in the casual-dining industry, producing 50 wines and 15 specialty blends.
4. First Watch
First Watch is the fastest-growing family-dining chain in the US, with sales up more than 30% over the last year. The breakfast-, brunch-, and lunch-focused chain reached 239 locations, a 21.3% increase from last year.
First Watch — which also operates the breakfast chain The Egg & I — also got a boost from an investment from private equity firm Advent International in July 2017.
3. Shake Shack
Shake Shack's sales grew 32.5% over the last year as the chain finally hit the 100-location mark. Sales added up to $367.3 million.
As the international burger chain continues to expand, it is also developing its menu and tech. Over the last year, the chain has dabbled with cashless locations and tested a new veggie burger.
2. Blaze Pizza
Blaze Pizza reached $279 million in total sales, a growth of more than 50% from last year. And, the fast-casual pizza chain is showing no sign of slowing down.
Co-founders Elise and Rick Wetzel, who founded the chain in 2012, say they are aiming for $1 billion in sales and more than 1,000 locations across the US.
"We knew there was a gaping hole in this category," Rick Wetzel told Business Insider in 2017.
1. MOD Pizza
MOD Pizza tops the list this year. In the chain's first time making the cut as one of the 200 largest chains in the US, MOD grew sales a whopping 80%, reaching $270 million.
MOD opened 110 new locations, reaching 297 restaurants across the US. In January, the company announced it had raised another $73 million, bringing the fast-casual pizza chain's equity capital raised to more than $185 million.
"We're going to continue to grow at the rate we have been growing — which is really fast," CEO and co-founder Scott Svenson told Business Insider at the time.
By Kate Taylor
July 2, 2018
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