5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023

This past year has been a particularly interesting year for the restaurant space. Migration trends, new store formats, and fleet expansion during a turbulent economic period have all made for intriguing storylines. We dove into the visit data for five fast food chains and took a look at the foot traffic trends that earn them a spot on our list of Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023.  

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

Founded in Baton Rouge, LA. in 1996, Raising Cane’s is known for chicken finger meals and “Cane’s Sauce” – made daily from a top-secret recipe. The chain boasts more than 600 locations, over 300 of which opened in the last few years. 

Location analytics shows that before the pandemic, Raising Cane’s foot traffic was growing steadily, with year-over-year (YoY) visit growth for Q3 2019 and Q4 2019 up 20.3% and 22.6%, respectively. And since the wider retail reopening last year, the chain is picking up where it left off, with YoY visit growth up 21.8% in Q3 2022. 

In-N-Out Burger 

In-N-Out Burger opened the nation’s first drive-thru in Baldwin, CA in 1948. With 380 locations in 2022, the chain prides itself on fresh ingredients and ensures that its restaurants are no more than a day’s drive from one of its three patty-making facilities. 

The opening of a facility in Dallas in 2011 allowed In-N-Out to expand into Texas and replicate its California following in the Lone Star State. Recent migration trends show more Californians have moved to Texas, and this may account for some of the chain’s impressive year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visit growth in that market. Since March 2022, In-N-Out in Texas saw Yo3Y visits on par with, or exceeding, visits to the chain as a whole.

Jersey Mike’s Subs

In 1956, Jersey Mike’s Subs debuted in Point Pleasant, NJ. Today, the chain has over 2,000 locations nationwide, which CEO Peter Cancro expects to grow to 3,000 within three years

Jersey Mike’s digital integration with apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, and a new rewards program unveiled in 2021, have fueled the chain’s YoY foot traffic growth. From March 2022 to September 2022 Jersey Mike’s experienced positive YoY visits and visits per venue nearly every month. These numbers are particularly significant when considering the strong foot traffic of 2021 to which visits in 2022 are being compared. And Jersey Mike’s positive visits per venue indicate that new locations aren’t cannibalizing visits, but rather driving more foot traffic to the overall chain. 

Peter Piper Pizza

Peter Piper Pizza opened its doors in 1973 in Glendale, AZ as a neighborhood pizzeria. In 1980 the chain added arcade games to the family dine-in experience at its restaurants. Today, Peter Piper Pizza has over 120 locations in the U.S. and Mexico, and the company has benefited from the recent increase in “eatertainment” demand alongside other players in the space such as Dave & Buster’s. In 2022, Peter Piper Pizza launched the first Peter Piper Express location to complement their sit-down offering. The new carryout and delivery store format eliminates the arcade and dining areas and aims to meet the growing demand for off-premise sales since the pandemic.

Alongside to-go and delivery sales growth, visit data for Peter Piper Pizza shows that demand for the brick-and-mortar experience at the chain remains strong – which may indicate that happy customers of the new format are fuelling visits to full-service locations. In 2022, monthly visits to the chain remained above the January 2022 visit baseline every month through September 2022. 

American Deli

The first American Deli restaurant opened in Atlanta, GA in 1989. The chain now boasts over 200 locations – mostly in the southern states – and is famous for its lemon pepper chicken wings

Location analytics shows that in the southern-style fast food space, American Deli is becoming a favorite of its customers. In Q3 2020 28.8% of visitors to the chain also visited a Popeyes Louisiana Chicken – a leader in the southern-style QSR category. In Q3 2022 that number dropped to 22.4%, indicating that more diners found that American Deli fulfilled their eating-out needs and opted not to patronize a competitor. 

As we near the end of the year, several fast food brands are on a hot streak when it comes to foot traffic. We’ll be watching closely to see how visitation trends carry these restaurant chains into 2023.

For updates and more data-driven retail insights, visit Placer.ai.

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