You won’t find a microwave or freezer at any of Café Rio’s 21 units. The Rio Grande-style Mexican restaurant prides itself on the freshness of its made-to-order meals. Employees arrive early to prepare homemade tortillas and squeeze a daily average of nine cases of limes—a crucial ingredient. Bob and Kathleen Nilsen bought the chain in 2004 and have since more than doubled its size, moving beyond the Utah border into Arizona and Nevada.

LocationSalt Lake City, Utah
2008 Systemwide Sales$25,000,000*
% Change in Sales47.1%
2008 U.S. Units21
% Change in Units16.7%
2008 Average Unit Volume$1,300,000*
% Change in AUV0.0%
Future 50 Year2009