Better-for-you continues to grow
Nine of the chains on this year’s list offer a health-focused menu, including beverage concepts Joe & The Juice (No. 24) and Clean Juice (No. 2), as well as chains such as salad-centric Evergreens (No. 1) and plant-based By Chloe (No. 25).
Room for indulgence, too
Slapfish (No. 3) founder Andrew Gruel said he’s seen increased interest in his chain’s indulgent offerings, such as clam chowder-topped fries. Comfort food concepts such as Creamistry (No. 9), Joella’s Hot Chicken (No. 10), Maple Street Biscuit Co. (No. 20) and Duck Donuts (No. 22) figured prominently on the ranking.
Growth in all-day snacking
A number of concepts featuring snackable fare made this year’s list, proof of growing consumer interest in meal occasions outside of traditional dayparts. Snacking is king at concepts such as acai bowl-purveyor Playa Bowls (No. 6), artisan ice cream brand Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (No. 33) and coffee-cafe Bluestone Lane (No. 14).
Fast casuals' domination continues
Thirty of the Future 50 chains are in the fast-casual segment, including pizza chains like &pizza (No. 35) and The Pizza Press (No. 27), Mexican brands like Bubbakoo’s Burritos (No. 25) and Dos Toros Taqueria (No. 26), and Asian chains such as Quickway Japanese Hibachi (No. 29) and Bibibop Asian Grill (No. 24). Just nine chains on the list are quick service, seven are casual-dining concepts and only four are family restaurants. At 11 full-service brands, the category holds steady from last year’s list.
Growth through franchising
Just 21 of the Future 50 brands do not offer franchising, with a majority of these emerging chains viewing franchising as an efficient way to add units and grow sales. In fact, eight of this year’s 10 fastest-growing chains are all franchisors.
Two of this year’s 11 listed full-service chains specialize in tapas—Bulla Gastrobar (No. 21) and Boqueria (No. 34) and three are breakfast-focused chains—Eggs Up Grill (No. 11), Famous Toastery (No. 37) and The Flying Biscuit Cafe (No. 41).
Sandwiches gain traction
Burgers may not feature heavily on this year’s Future 50 list, but other types of sandwiches are well represented. One-tenth of the concepts on the list specialize in handhelds, including Ike’s Love & Sandwiches (No. 17) and Dog Haus (No. 12).