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Jersey Mike’s is "very hands-on," President Hoyt Jones says, meaning franchisees are expected to connect with the community and as shown here,…

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Hungry for a quick pizza lunch, the dynamic duo who had already co-founded and sold Wetzel's Pretzels couldn't find a restaurant that served it. Rick and Elise Wetzel visited Chipotle instead. “That was the gaping hole,” says Elise. “I looked at Rick and said, ‘We're going to open a pizza restaurant aren't we?' He said, ‘Yes we are.'” Now at 300 units and after a three-year growth spurt of 176 percent in sales and 121 percent in locations, they're looking toward a cool thousand—eventually. But first, the No. 1 brand on this year's Fast & Serious list, which ranks the smartest-growing franchises over a three-year period, needs to keep executing “extremely, extremely well.” Read about all 40 brands in our exclusive research project to identify sustainably growing franchises.