Top 500: Limited-service chains up their game

The segment grew again in 2019, with leading chains continuing to focus on convenience via technology and third-party delivery.
Photograph courtesy of Panera Bread

Limited-service chains grew sales 5% in 2019, improving on the prior year by more than a whole percentage point. Both quick-service and fast-casual chains did well as they continued to focus on convenience via services such as mobile ordering and third-party delivery. Limited-service chains also led the way on plant-based, with Burger King and White Castle helping to usher faux meat into the mainstream.

Limited-service sales growth by segment

Fastest-growing limited-service chains (>$200M in sales)

Shake Shack 

Rank: 71

Sales: $622.6M

Sales growth: 31.8%

Unit growth: 27.2%

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

Rank: 42

Sales: $1.47B

Sales growth: 23.8%

Unit growth: 14.3%

MOD Pizza

Rank: 93

Sales: $483.5M

Sales growth: 23.8%

Unit growth: 18.2%

Fastest-growing limited-service chains (<$200M in sales)

Flower Child

Rank: 498

Sales: $50.7M

Sales growth: 54.6%

Unit growth: 56.3%

CoreLife Eatery

Rank: 365

Sales: $78.4M

Sales growth: 49%

Unit growth: 35.6%

Mendocino Farms

Rank: 482

Sales: $54M

Sales growth: 40.6%

Unit growth: 33.3%

These are the largest chains in the quick-service and fast-casual categories.

Largest quick-service chains

RankChain nameMenu type2019 U.S. sales ($000,000)Sales stimated2019 U.S. unitsTop 500 rank
1McDonald'sBurger $40,413  13,8461
2StarbucksCoffee Cafe $21,380 *15,0492
3Chick-fil-AChicken $11,320 *2,4703
4Taco BellMexican $11,293  6,7664
5Burger KingBurger $10,204  7,3465
6SubwaySandwich $10,200  23,8016
7Wendy'sBurger $9,763  5,8527
8Dunkin'Coffee Cafe $9,229  9,6308
9Domino'sPizza $7,044  6,1269
10Pizza HutPizza $5,558  7,30611
11Sonic Drive-InBurger $4,687  3,52613
12KFCChicken $4,546  4,06514
13Arby'sSandwich $3,885  3,35918
14Popeyes Louisiana KitchenChicken $3,812  2,47619
15Little CaesarsPizza $3,811 *4,23720
16Dairy QueenFrozen Desserts $3,760 *4,38121
17Jack in the BoxBurger $3,505  2,24324
18Papa John'sPizza $2,638  3,14228
19WhataburgerBurger $2,556  83030
20Hardee'sBurger $2,020 *1,82035

Largest fast-casual chains

RankChain nameMenu type2019 U.S. sales ($000,000)Sales stimated2019 U.S. unitsTop 500 rank
1Panera BreadBakery Cafe $5,890 *2,16010
2Chipotle Mexican GrillMexican $5,509  2,58412
3Panda ExpressAsian/Noodle $3,947  2,20917
4Jimmy John's Gourmet SandwichesSandwich $2,105  2,78734
5Zaxby'sChicken $1,886 *91036
6Five Guys Burgers and FriesBurger $1,662  1,36840
7Raising Cane's Chicken FingersChicken $1,466  45742
8WingstopChicken $1,363  1,23144
9Jersey Mike's SubsSandwich $1,340  1,66746
10Qdoba Mexican EatsMexican $901  73053
11Firehouse SubsSandwich $832  1,15558
12Moe's Southwest GrillMexican $749 *73060
13McAlister's DeliSandwich $726 *46063
14Jason's DeliSandwich $647  28369
15Shake ShackBurger $623  17371
16Freddy's Frozen Custard & SteakburgersBurger $536  36884
17Noodles & Co.Asian/Noodle $534  45786
18Einstein Bros. BagelsBakery Cafe $517 *71087
19Portillo'sSandwich $505 *6289
20Boston MarketChicken $502  39090

Source: Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report; *Technomic estimate

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