When people think about restaurant chains, they generally consider the huge and best-known ones. McDonald’s, now decades old, brings in the most money. Subway claims it has the most stores in America. Both have been chased for years by chains that want more revenue and greater store count. They include famous brand names like Domino’s, Burger King, KFC and Chipotle. However, none of these is the fastest-growing chain in America.
While all these larger chains survived, even with a downturn in sales, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the restaurant business more than any other industry. The National Restaurant Association estimated that 110,000 restaurant locations either shuttered temporarily or closed permanently in 2020 as consumers cooked at home and restaurateurs retrenched in the face of the national shutdown.
This was not the kind of economic environment that would tempt a restaurant chain to open up new locations. Some hearty food entrepreneurs and franchise owners nevertheless braved the headwinds and planted flags in new markets.
To pick the fastest-growing restaurant chain in America in terms of new units added, 24/7 Wall St. consulted the latest data published by the top foodservice trade publication, Nation’s Restaurant News, sourced through its partnership with the food industry research and data company Datassential and their proprietary Firefly database.
The fastest-growing chain, Crumbl Cookies, launched its first store in Utah in 2017. Cookie connoisseurs must crave their sweet treats because the brand shot up to 255 locations across the country in just four short years. The bakery offers a rotating weekly menu of different cookies, as well as deliveries in its signature pink box. The chain’s success proves that people seek comfort foods in hard times, and there’s nothing more comforting than a chocolate chip cookie. Its U.S. store count in 2020 was 139, a year-over-year increase from 2019 of 152.7%.
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