Limited service keeps growing

See the top fast-casual and quick-service chains in the Top 500.
Photograph courtesy of Cava

top 500 logo

More than 80% of the $239.3 billion limited-service segment in 2018 came from quick-service sales, which continue to show relatively consistent growth. And the fast-growing fast-casual segment is starting to mature, says Kevin Schimpf of Technomic: “We will continue to see strong growth of fast casual for the next five years ... but we will see that unit growth continues to slow.”

Limited-service sales growth by segment

  • 3.9% — Top 500 LSR sales growth
  • 8% — Fast-casual sales growth
  • 3.1% — Quick-service sales growth



Fastest-growing limited-service chains, >$200M

MOD Pizza

Sales: $397.7M
Sales Growth: 44.8%
Unit Growth: 33.8%

Shake Shack

Sales: $459.3M
Sales Growth: 28%
Unit Growth: 36%

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

Sales: $1,183.5M
Sales Growth: 22.5%
Unit Growth: 13.6%

Fastest-growing limited-service chains, <$200M

CoreLife Eatery

Sales: $52.6M
Sales Growth: 133.8%
Unit Growth: 88.5%


Sales: $85.3M*
Sales Growth: 67.9%
Unit Growth: 56.5%

Halal Guys

Sales: $58.6M*
Sales Growth: 63.7%
Unit Growth: 27.8%

Largest Quick-Service Chains

RankChain NameMenu Type2018 U.S. Sales ($000,000)2018 U.S. Units
2StarbucksCoffee Cafe19,660*14,606
4Taco BellMexican10,360.86,588
6Burger KingBurger9,9397,330
7Wendy's Burger9.4055,810
8Dunkin'Coffee Cafe8,786.89,419
10Pizza HutPizza5,526.67,482
11Sonic Drive-InBurger4,447.13,606
14Little CaesarsPizza3,8204,350
15Dairy QueenFrozen Desserts3,654.64,406
16Jack in the BoxBurger3,466.12,237
17Popeyes Louisiana KitchenChicken3,2212,347
18Papa John'sPizza2,712.43,199
20Hardee's Burger2,120*1,875

Largest Fast-Casual Chains

RankChain NameMenu Type2018 U.S. Sales ($000,000)2018 U.S. Units
1Panera BreadBakery Cafe$5,760*2,074
2Chipotle Mexican GrillMexican4,8052,452
3Panda ExpressAsian/Noodle3,523.72,105
4Jimmy John's Gourmet SandwichesSandwich2,168*2,840*
6Five Guys Burger and FriesBurger1,615.81,358
8Raising Cane's Chicken FingersChicken1,183.5400
9Jersey Mike's SubsSandwich1,148.51,494
10 Qdoba Mexican EatsMexican835743
11Firehouse SubsSandwich794.41,133
12Moe's Southwest GrillMexican739.1*727
13Jason's DeliSandwich721.6281
14McAlister's DeliSandwich704.5*430
15Boston MarketChicken557.8454
16Noodles & Co.Asian/Noodle525.7459
17Einstein Bros. BagelsBakery Cafe516*690
18Freddy's Frozen Custard & SteakburgersBurger474.7328
19 Shake ShackBurger459.3136
20The Habit Burger GrillBurger436.6247

Source: Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report; *estimate

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Brands need to think creatively as the industry heads into a value war

The Bottom Line: Giving customers meal options they can afford will be key to generating traffic this year. But make sure those offers can generate a profit.


The Red Lobster bankruptcy is a seminal moment for the restaurant business

The Bottom Line: The seafood chain’s bankruptcy declaration was not surprising after months of closures and Endless Shrimp recriminations. But that doesn’t make it any less notable.


The White House has ideas about how all that AI on the Show floor should be used

Reality Check: President Biden issued a set of guidelines Thursday for protecting workers from the digital onslaught.


More from our partners