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Top Restaurant Franchises by Subcategory A-L

 

Sales Growth - Bagel Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
454 Big Apple Bagels 35  2.3%
140 Einstein Bros. Bagels 515* 2.0%
250 Bruegger's Bagels 199  -2.4%

*Franchise Times Estimate

The bagel category saw minimal changes throughout 2016, with Big Apple and Einstein Bros. seeing a slight uptick. Bruegger’s Bagels saw sales dwindle again last year, with a 2.4 percent loss. 

 

Sales Growth - Bakery/Cafe/Deli Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
240 Newk's Eatery 210 18.1%
130 McAlister's Deli 591 7.9%
25 Panera Bread 5,178 7.0%
482 Nature's Table 29 4.6%
189 Schlotzsky's Bakery Cafe 332 3.6%
125 Jason's Deli 645 0.3%

All six franchises in the bakery/café/deli section saw positive sales growth in 2016, and the top three players added 126 units overall. Jackson, Mississippi-based Newk’s Eatery had the biggest jump, at 18.1 percent. Top-25 player Panera Bread had another strong year, with a 7 percent boost in sales. 

 

Sales Growth - BBQ Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
307 L&L Hawaiian Barbecue Pit 121  20.0%
141 Dickey's Barbecue Pit 515* 10.8%
164 Famous Dave's  423* -6.8%
478 Rib City 30  -16.7%

The four Bar-B-Q franchises on the Top 200 either had very successful or very disappointing sales in 2016—without much of an in-between. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit both rose significantly on the list with big gains in sales.  Famous Dave’s on the other hand, continued its well-documented struggles with a 6.8 percent sales decrease, and Rib City dropped even further, with a 16.7 percent decline.

 

Sales Growth - Better Burgers Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
373 Wayback Burgers 64  22.6%
319 BurgerFI 107  12.6%
359 Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries 71  11.7%
367 MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes 67  11.7%
181 Smashburger 360* 10.5%
73 Five Guys 1,595  6.3%
203 Fuddruckers 286* 2.5%
317 Fatburger 109  -9.1%

Everyone still loves burgers, and despite a tricky year for restaurants and a consumer trend toward healthier food, the segment added billions in 2016. The burger segment is also where you’ll find many of the top members in the Top 200+, with McDonald’s (No. 1), Burger King (No. 4), Wendy’s (No. 11) and Sonic Drive-In (No. 27). Aside from the biggest players in the industry, there were two major standouts in both the better burger and QSR categories—Freddy’s and Wayback.

For most of the “better-burger” players, especially Wayback and BURGERFI there is no end to expansion in sight. The two biggest players, Smashburger and Five Guys, saw significant growth as well. Fatburger saw a significant decline of 9.1 percent in its sales. 

 

Restaurants, especially traditional casual dining concepts had a rough 2016 overall, with some of the biggest players posting significant losses. It’s not all doom and gloom for casual dining restaurants in the Top 200+, as several breakfast diners and sports bars kept things positive. 

Sales Growth - Casual - Breakfast Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
355 Another Broken Egg Cafe 73  16.3%
443 Broken Yolk Cafe 38  16.2%
238 First Watch 213* 14.2%
242 Black Bear Diner 205  14.0%
48 Denny's 2,800  3.7%
417 Country Kitchen 46  2.4%
225 Huddle House 246  -0.1%
44 IHOP 3,240  -0.3%
183 Village Inn 353* -1.8%
122 Perkins Restaurant & Bakery 655* -1.8%
446 Jimmy's Egg 37  -3.9%

 *Franchise Times Estimate

Diners that serve breakfast turned in the brightest results in the tricky casual dining category. Super-regional favorites like Black Bear Diner and legacy juggernaut Denny’s have all pushed the segment further, but similarly named Another Broken Egg Café and Broken Yolk Café led the category, both with 16 percent gains. 

 

Sales Growth - Casual - Traditional Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
338 Roy Rogers 91  7.2%
90 Steak 'n Shake 1,050* 2.4%
209 Sizzler 275* 0.5%
76 Red Robin 1,515* 0.0%
31 Chili's 4,104  -1.0%
50 T.G.I. Fridays 2,675* -1.8%
184 Johnny Rockets 353  -3.2%
249 The Melting Pot 200  -3.6%
26 Applebee's 4,732* -6.2%

*Franchise Times Estimate

Only Steak ‘n Shake and Roy Rogers saw meaningful growth among traditional casual diners, as the category had another rough year. The category’s three biggest players, Applebee’s, Chili’s and T.G.I. Friday’s all saw dips in sales of at least one percent.

 

Sales Growth - Chicken Franchises

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
396 Chicken Salad Chick 54  68.6%
15 Chick-fil-A 7,580* 16.6%
289 Golden Chick 142  7.5%
43 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen 3,286  7.4%
86 Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits 1,232  6.8%
75 Zaxby's 1,560* 6.4%
206 Chester's  277  4.2%
3 KFC 23,193* 2.3%
161 Pollo Campero 429  0.8%
88 Church's Chicken 1,164  -6.2%

*Franchise Times Estimate 

Crispy, salty, juicy, saucy, sweet, decadent, healthy, hot, cold, fast, slow, pulled, pressed, fried, seared, bone-in, boneless, broiled… the possibilities with chicken are endless. The financial opportunity may be just as endless. All but one chicken franchise grew its sales in 2016, with the biggest players posting some eye-popping increases.

Chicken Salad Chick moved up 56 spots on the list with a sales growth approaching 69 percent. Chick-fil-A continues its monstrous growth streak with a 16.6 percent gain in 2016, and Top 200 mainstays like Popeyes, Bojangles’ and Zaxby’s all saw significant topline sales growth as well. Church’s Chicken was the only chicken franchise to post a negative sales growth, at 6.2 percent, dropping it six spots on our list.

 

Sales Growth - Coffee Franchises 

Rank Company $ Millions Sales Growth %
386 Scooter's Coffee 57 24.4%
186 Dutch Bros. Coffee 349 22.8%

Coffee has been an incredible driver for the likes of Dutch Brother’s and Scooter’s as they expand to steal market share from Starbucks. Both topped 22 percent in 2016 sales growth. 

 

Our list of the Top Restaurant Franchises continues on the next page.  Click Here to view subcategories M-R.

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