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The 5 Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chains in America

Updated: Dec. 09, 2022

Nation's Restaurant News recently released its list of the fastest-growing chains in the country, based on American sales growth in 2017. These are the top five restaurants making a mouthwatering name for themselves.

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Wine is poured into a glass

5. Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

Casual dining chains like Red Lobster, T.G.I. Friday’s, and Applebee’s haven’t been thriving, but Cooper’s Hawk certainly is. The small winery and restaurant chain, which calls itself an “upscale casual restaurant,” only has 30 locations, none of which are located farther west than Kansas City. However, their sales increased by 30 percent in the last year to reach $241 million. We see more locations in their future!

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First Watch Restaurant. First Watch is a restaurant chain focusing on breakfast and lunch service.
Bryan W/Shutterstock

4. First Watch

If you haven’t heard of this chain, think of it as a faster, cleaner, fresher family-friendly diner for breakfast and lunch. They boast creative dishes like the Elote Mexican street corn hash and the açai bowl for a balanced, delectable meal. With 239 locations (a 21.3 percent increase year over year), First Watch saw sales skyrocket and finish 30 percent higher than last year, according to Business Insider. Don’t miss these first locations of 8 famous fast food restaurants.

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Shake Shack near Herald Square in Manhattan. Shake Shack is a trendy food chain known for quality. People can be seen.
DW labs Incorporated/Shutterstock

3. Shake Shack

Shake Shack, which hit 100 locations (both nationally and internationally) this year, clocks in at #3 for good reason. The responsibly-sourced ingredients for their delicious burgers and creamy “concretes” make this restaurant less “fast food” and more “indulgent getaway.” Shake Shack’s sales went up 32.5 percent in the last year, bringing their total to $367.3 million. This burger joint is here to stay.

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Building facade of the popular Blaze Pizza restaurant. Image was captured after sunset in Pasadena, California USA
Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

2. Blaze Pizza

This fast-casual personal pizza restaurant has been around for almost 10 years, but it wasn’t widely recognized until LeBron James gave it a ringing endorsement. From 2016 to 2017, sales leapt 48.9 percent to $274.4 million, according to CNBC. And for good reason: The chain has a number of interesting pizza choices, different kinds of dough (regular, hi-rise, and gluten free), and a “build your own” option.

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People walk past MOD Pizza restaurant in Nottingham. In Nottingham, England. On 13th February 2017.
Jason Batterham/Shutterstock

1. MOD Pizza

In a career-oriented society, fast food restaurants thrive because they’re, well, fast. But historically, fast food like McDonald’s and Burger King has been less than impressive. MOD pizza, which hails itself as “superfast,” is here to change that. They showed that fast food doesn’t have to lack quality or flavor, and their numbers reflect it. In the last year, systemwide sales at MOD skyrocketed more than 80 percent to $270 million. Plus, the chain has donated more than $1 million to local communities and its employees. Now that you know where to eat, make sure you avoid the 15 least popular fast food chains in America.