When Americans want their burger, fries, tacos or chips, but they also want to take it up just a notch, they opt for fast-casual dining chains. These restaurants that are just a tiny bit fancier than your average fast food chain have been growing at nearly three times the rate of the restaurant industry as a whole, according to Restaurant Business Online and Technomic.
Ahead of the pack is sandwich and bakery chain Panera, which has been growing on a delivery model, and increased sales from US$4.8 billion in 2015 to US$5.5 billion in 2017. Runner-up Chipotle
was dealing with some food-safety issues but could increase their sales by more than 6 percent in 2018 from a previously stagnant number. Because the chain is one of the few companies in the segment publicly listed, the chart uses 2017 numbers by industry publication QSR
The biggest winners in the segment apart from Panera were Panda Express, Wingstop and Jimmy John’s, which grew their sales by US$600 million, US$420 million and US$400 million respectively.