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Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
June 29, 2023
Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains

The dining space must constantly evolve, whether to meet its customers' shifting tastes or adapt to the changing economic climate. With the halfway point of 2023 behind us, we take a closer look at the location analytics of five fast-growing dining chains to see what is setting them apart from their competitors.

  1. Bubbakoo’s Burritos: Expanding Eastward

Bubbakoo’s Burritos, a Jersey-based Tex-Mex chain, is known for its unique burritos that meld Tex-Mex and Asian flavors together. The chain is entering its 15th year with plenty to celebrate, including a new loyalty program and a continued expansion in the East Coast and Florida.

And this expansion is likely responsible for at least some of the recent visit increase to Bubbakoo's – the chain has seen its foot traffic elevated in a year-over-year (YoY) comparison every month of 2023 so far. Visits to the fusion burrito restaurant also exceeded those of other Tex-Mex chains, with May 2023 visits to Bubbakoo’s growing by 7.9% compared to May 2022, while visits to Tex-Mex chains declined by 11.5% during the same period.  

2. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant: Wining and Dining

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is not your typical chain restaurant. The dining concept seeks to introduce customers to the world of wines, with restaurants offering diners the option to try a selection of house-made wines with their meals. And customers are responding positively – visits to the chain are outperforming last year’s visits by wide margins, and YoY visits are also outperforming the wider Fine Dining segment. May 2023 visits to Cooper’s Hawk were up 11.6% YoY, while visits to the Fine Dining segment declined by 8.2% for the same period. 

The chain’s inclusion on a list of the top 100 restaurants, its popular wine membership, and the addition of new restaurants are likely all contributing to help drive visits to its locations. 

3. Killer Burger: Portland’s Best 

Killer Burger, a gourmet burger chain originating from the Pacific Northwest, has been capturing the hearts and taste buds of burger enthusiasts since its establishment in 2010. By 2022, the chain boasted 20 locations and is carrying out a strategic expansion plan, with the goal of operating 100 units within 5 years.

Killer Burger, voted Portland’s best burger four years in a row, aims to redefine the classic burger by focusing on unique toppings and excellent service. And it seems to have found the secret sauce to keep visitors coming back – visits to the chain outperformed both the fast-casual dining segment and its own foot traffic on a YoY basis. And with a new loyalty program that aims to further encourage customer engagement, Killer Burger is primed to continue drawing in burger lovers.

4. Dave’s Hot Chicken: The New Chicken King

Dave’s Hot Chicken is a modern day success story, with the founders starting the rapidly expanding chain with little more than $900 and a knack for creating viral social media posts. The chain was launched in a California parking lot in 2017 and has since seen unprecedented growth – between 2020 and 2023 the chain grew from just two units to an impressive 118.

But ultimately, it’s the chain's fried chicken that keeps people coming back – and back. January to May 2023 YoY visits to the chain were up by triple-digits every month, far outstripping the change in visits to similar fried chicken chains. The chain was also recently voted the fastest-growing dining chain in the country – and with 70 new locations planned for 2023 alone, it looks like Dave’s might just become one of the most relevant players in the fried chicken space. 

5. Jinya Ramen Bar: Authentically Delicious

Jinya Ramen is known for its authentic and careful approach to Japanese cuisine, and rightfully so – the chain originated in Tokyo in 2002 before moving stateside. Founder Tomo Takahashi brought his ramen concept to the U.S. after establishing six restaurants in Japan, and quickly found success, in part due to a review by famed LA food critic Jonathan Gould in 2010. Today, there are 52 Jinya Ramen locations across the country. Its expansion has not changed the restaurant's meticulous commitment to quality – Jinya Ramen remains a ramen destination for those in-the-know and even landed on a list of the top 20 ramen restaurants in America.

And it is this approach that is likely driving visits to the chain – location analytics shows that 2023 foot traffic to Jinya Ramen grew all months analyzed relative to 2022, while similar Japanese restaurant chains experienced moderate growth to minor YoY declines. With expansion plans in the works – Jinya Ramen hopes to add 25 units per year over the next decade – the chain seems poised to continue bringing its authentic cuisine to more diners across the country. 

Final Dish

The dining segment is constantly evolving and adapting to consumer preferences, and these five chains are succeeding in providing hungry customers with what they want. With strategic expansion plans in the works for all five chains, will they continue to see strong foot traffic metrics over the coming years?

Visit placer.ai/blog to find out. 

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Dave's Hot Chicken
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Bubbakoo's Burritos
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Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
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