After flat years, Johnny Rockets gets growing
It may seem strange to lump taxes and children’s services together in the personal services category, but on the surface, a category like family dining doesn’t seem like it should produce any head-scratching when it comes to listing the top members. Until you get to the 10th franchise: Hooters. We’re not saying Hooters isn’t family-friendly, only that the so-called veto-vote may have a different meaning here. (Perhaps, the same could be said for Ruth’s Chris Steak House, where price could deter a young family from dining there.)
Applebee’s continues to be the category leader with systemwide sales of $4.6 billion. Sales increased by 1.3 percent from 2013 to 2014, but the chain only added six new restaurants and according to our research, only seven stores in five years. That’s not that surprising considering Applebee’s already has more than 2,000 units and that sit-down restaurants require a larger investment from the franchisee than adding a QSR or fast-casual unit.
In a category that has stayed fairly flat, enviable numbers are still being rung up at Buffalo Wild Wings, where the sports chain has doubled sales in the past five years. Just last year, its 1,071 restaurants combined for systemwide sales of $3.3 billion, a 16.9 percent growth and the largest in the sector. Buffalo Wild Wings is using some of that extra cash to invest in fast-casual concepts like pizza and tacos.
Another concept rocking the list is Johnny Rockets, which was flat for the past four years and now is on a roll. Its sales increased by 11.1 percent, the only other chain on the list with double-digit growth, from $309 million to $343 million. However, its unit count only increased by three.
Three of the chains at the top of this category were selected by Parents magazine as part of its list of the Top 10 Best Family Restaurants—Denny’s, Red Robin and Chili’s. Denny’s sales were up slightly, as was its unit count; Red Robin showed a little more gusto in both areas and Chili’s was a notch above flat.
While Hooters showed just a slight decline in its sales and unit count, it may need to be looking over its shoulder at a newcomer bouncing into its niche. Twin Peaks hasn’t broken into the Top 200 yet, but it's experiencing monster growth. Check out its ranking in the Top 200+ listing.