The largest restaurant chains added a lot of locations in 2022. The 500 largest restaurant chains added more than 3,500 locations during the year, a growth rate of 1.7% that was the largest since 2016, according to the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report. The typical restaurant chain on the Top 500 added a net of 7 restaurants.
Thirteen chains grew by more than 100 restaurants during the year, and there were some impressive unit growth rates below that, led by the 155% unit count growth at Dave’s Hot Chicken.
The 10 restaurant chains that added the most locations last year, in total numbers, features a cross section of large chains and growth concepts and those in between. Here are the concepts that added the most locations in 2022.
Units opened: 428 (2.8% growth rate)
The Seattle-based coffee giant has been adding locations in various formats in recent years, finishing 2022 with nearly 16,000. It has more than that now, and likely will overtake Subway as the nation’s largest chain by unit count within a few years.
Units opened: 363 (111.4%)
On the other end of the spectrum is the fast-growing Utah-based Crumbl, which more than doubled its unit count last year, adding more locations than anyone other than Starbucks despite being considerably smaller than all of them.
Units opened: 297 (14%)
The sandwich chain has been one of the most consistent growth concepts in recent years and 2022 was no exception. It finished the year with nearly 2,400 locations after adding nearly 300.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Units opened: 221 (7.2%)
Chipotle continues to find more places in the U.S. for one of its burrito restaurants. It is now adding locations in smaller markets and winning fans in those locations in the process so expect them on this list for a while.
Units opened: 196 (2.8%)
The fast-food Mexican chain, similar to Chipotle, has broadened its market horizons in recent years in a bid to get growth, and is apparently succeeding at doing so.
Units opened: 187 (12.2%)
The chicken wing chain, which has thrived in part by selling more than just wings, now has more than 1,700 restaurants in the U.S.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Units opened: 167
The chicken chain has been increasingly aggressive adding restaurants in the U.S. and globally. The popularity of its chicken sandwich means it can go into more types of locations than it once could.
Tropical Smoothie Café
Units opened: 158 (15.2%)
We probably do not appreciate the smoothie business enough. Tropical Smoothie has consistently grown unit count and sales in the U.S., with seemingly little to stop it.
Units opened: 155 (38.8%)
The first of two drive-thru coffee chains on this ranking, the franchised Scooter’s has been rapidly expanding its Midwestern presence in recent years and finished 2022 with 555 locations.
Units opened: 133 (24.7%)
Dutch Bros is more of a beverage chain than a coffee chain—it doesn’t even sell old-fashioned hot drip coffee—but whatever it sells is spreading rapidly. The chain finished last year with nearly 700 drive-thru locations.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to correct the number of net new units Chipotle added last year.
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