2017 Top 500: Lessons from the list shifters

pie five pizzas

Operators can learn from those chains that jumped in the ranks, as well as from those that plummeted. 

Revise the better-for-you definition…often

“We’re seeing the next generation of healthy concepts,” says Tristano. Consumers’ definition of health continues to evolve, and that means operators need to rethink buzzwords and menu callouts to hit on transparency, clean eating, meat-free options and humane treatment of animals to compete with chains like Snap Kitchen and Modern Market that have built concepts around these “cleaner” points. One segment that’s emerging in the better-for-you battle that also has an ethnic spin: Mediterranean, as seen with Verts, Taziki’s and others. “People perceive it as healthy, fresher food,” says Kevin Schimpf, manager of industry research for Technomic.

Offer up convenience

Convenience is still driving occasions, and it’s evolving quickly. Much of the growth has taken place around off-premise, as more brands rethink takeout with mobile order-and-pay platforms, drive-thru and curbside advances, bot-enabled ordering through social media and expanded delivery. But even the dine-in experience is shifting; operators are retooling units, adding more outlets and USB charging stations, and using more at-the-table ordering to make dining in efficient. Sweetgreen and beverage chain Argo Tea, for example, have gone cashless to speed the line for those who pay in-store, while many fast-casual pizza chains have driven a lot of business to their apps. On the horizon: Developments like drones and robots will present new challenges for operators, but they aren’t too far off, Tristano says, and early adopters will benefit while others catch up.

Keep an eye toward other markets

The blurring of segment lines continued in 2016, with grocery, c-store and noncommercial taking share of the foodservice dollar. Prepared foods are getting upgraded, and employers such as Amazon are launching in-house concepts like Amazon Go that offer convenient dining options to staffers. Now, new contenders like meal kit delivery concepts and delivery-only, dining room-free restaurants (aka headless restaurants) are aiming for the same consumers. Snap Kitchen, for example, is more of a hybrid restaurant-convenience store: All food is packaged to go, to be reheated in a microwave, and the model is designed so that guests can order multiple meals for the week all at once. 


Ranking jumpers

Chain Name

2017 Rank

Rank Difference

Pie Five Pizza Co.461+309
Metro Diner463+227
Mission BBQ402+225
Slim Chickens350+194
Modern Market473+194
MOD Pizza213+169
PizzaRev478+153
Snap Kitchen458+145
Rock & Brews372+128
Sweetgreen334+123
Pieology Pizzeria229+116
Smallcakes a Cupcakerie and Creamery430+105
BonChon339+102
Torchy's Tacos464+98
Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe311+92
Nando's412+91
Blaze Pizza191+89
Scotty's Brewhouse489+81
Bareburger333+77

Source: Technomic's Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report


Ranking slippers

Chain Name

2017 Rank

Rank Difference

Elephant Bar Restaurant344-85
Coco's Bakery Restauant302-81
Blimpie America's Sub Shop476-81
Tony Roma's445-78
Texas Land & Cattle Steak House417-76
Red Mango301-59
Ryan's209-58
Dick's Last Resort434-55
Cheeburger Cheeburger462-55
El Chico Cafe403-54

Source: Technomic's Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report

 

View the full Top 500 report

Today's top stories

1
After sneering at fast food for decades, Chipotle has decided traditional quick-service chains may not be as brain-dead as it alleged. The home of Food with Integrity is showing a change of heart...
2
When it comes to flavoring foods, chefs and home cooks alike rely on a few staples: acids, salts, fats and of course, spices and herbs. Spices and herbs can bring heat to an otherwise ordinary dish,...
3
Taco Bell is partnering with Lyft to allow customers to grab late-night tacos while using the car ride service. A function of the Lyft app, Taco Mode, enables users to request a stop at a Taco Bell...
4
Aggressive discontinuing and simultaneous promotion of a new premium sandwich line added momentum during the second quarter to McDonald’s turnaround , with same-store sales for U.S. restaurants...
5
When opening a franchise, there are a lot of upfront costs that franchisees have to consider. Beyond the obvious such as food costs and labor, the cost of technology to help run the business—...
6
The Tijuana Flats fast-casual Tex-Mex chain is adding a family meal kit as a delivery option available from all 130 of its branches starting Monday. The $31.99 kit consists of a taco bar in portable...
7
The Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and The Brass Tap casual-dining chains have been sold by Levine Leichtman Capital Partners to CapitalSpring Partners, a New York City-based concern that specializes in the...
8
As operators look for more ways to diversify revenue streams, getting into packaged goods via in-store merchandise or licensing can be an appealing option. Because restaurants are not necessarily set...
9
Providing exclusive consumer trends and insights to enhance your marketing strategy. Powered by Technomic . “Technomic is a Chicago-based consulting and research firm providing a 360° view of the...
10
Sometime in the past, the editor of Drive-In Theater Business probably stared at a blank sheet in the typewriter and wondered what he’d say about the industry in his next column. Possible topics...