Fast-growing fast-casual chains identified in trade magazine’s Future 50

Restaurant Business Online identified several up-and-coming chains in its Future 50. The data is based on 2017 information and estimates gathered by Technomic, Inc., the consultancy owned by Winsight, parent company of Restaurant Business Magazine and Restaurant Business Online (RBOnline). The top five chains in the Future 50 comprise CoreLife Eatery, The Halal Guys, Wahlburgers, Maple Street Biscuit Co., and Honeygrow. Rounding out the top 10 list are Bibibop Asian Grill, Babalu Tapas, Cava, Ahipoki Bowl, and Duck Donuts.

Here are the top 10 chains, ranked by sales growth year-over-year (YOY) in 2017 and listed with estimated 2017 sales (Listed are rank, name, sales, growth rate):

1 CoreLife Eatery, $22M, 241.4 pct.
2 The Halal Guys, $37M, 160.0 pct.
3 Wahlburgers $30M, 122.5 pct.
4 Maple Street Biscuit Co. $28M, 96.6 pct.
5 Honeygrow $39M, 96.0 pct.
6 Bibibop Asian Grill $23M, 89.4 pct.
7 Babalu Tapas & Tacos $25M, 78.6 pct.
8 Cava $47M, 77.2 pct.
9 Ahipoki bowl $26M, 74.0 pct.
10 Duck Donuts $24M, 72.9 pct.

CoreLife Eatery is a healthy-eating-focused chain with 23 units and growing sales at a 241.4-percent clip, according to RBOnline. The company reports using foods that are trans fat-free and free of artificial colors, sweeteners, other artificial additives and GMO’s. Proteins, including steak and chicken are humanely-raised and sourced.

Over the next five years, the company plans to build to 300 locations, including corporate and franchise stores. It currently operates CoreLife in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Utah. This winter, it secured a franchise agreement for its first location—a deal for 32 stores with the Jan Companies.

CoreLife Eatery Chicken and Rice Noodle Browth Bowl: Eatery Pulse
CoreLife Eatery Chicken and Rice Noodle Broth Bowl.

The Halal Guys chain is growing its sales at a rate of 160 percent and has 54 stores, according to the Future 50. This is the company that started as a hot dog cart in New York City, as the story goes, and was founded by Mohammed Abouelenein, Abdelbaset Elsayed and Ahmed Elsaka. The chain operates from East to West Coasts, in several major markets, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, New York City, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. RBOnline says 10 percent of sales come from off-premise transactions.

Wahlburgers, a 20-unit better-burger chain, with sales at a 120-percent growth rate, and has celebrities Paul, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg to thank for its fame. According to Business Journals, the chain operates in 14 states and also in Canada, and will have its menu items included at select Hy-Vee Grille locations based on a 26-unit franchise agreement with Hy-Vee, its largest franchisor.

Fast-casual Maple Street Biscuit Co. is third on the Future 50 list and is growing sales 96.6 percent YOY. The 20-unit restaurant company refers to itself as a group of community stores on its website, and is based in Greater Jacksonville, Fla. Maple Street Biscuit Co. offers biscuit sandwiches and Southern-influenced fare.

Honeygrow Future 50 Chains: Eatery Pulse
Honeygrow self-ordering kiosks speed transactions and increase throughput. Photo by Honegrow.

Honeygrow and its Minigrow concept are expanding rapidly and making good use of culinary creativity and technology to keep guests coming back. Its ordering kiosks are speeding transactions for those seeking out its famous stir-fry bowls, including the Chesapeake Crab (available seasonally, regionally), Red Coconut Curry Bowl and Sweet Soy Five Spice. RBOnline tallies a 96-percent sales growth rate and 26 units as of 2017. The fast-casual chain had 32 locations in June, according to Eatery Pulse Streem.

Here is the full RBOnline report.

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