This story is part of NRN’s Top 100 special report, a proprietary census ranking the foodservice industry’s largest restaurant chains and companies by sales and unit data, among other metrics. The full report is available only to Nation’s Restaurant News magazine subscribers, and is part of the June 25 issue. Subscribe here.
This year 20 new retail foodservice chains joined the coveted ranks of the Top 100, some by the strength of their growth strategies and others by virtue of a change to the survey.
Four of those chains, Qdoba Mexican Grill Sandwich, Casey's General Stores, Baskin-Robbins and Famous Dave's, would likely have made it to the vaunted Top 100 echelon by dint of their prior momentum. Qdoba, the leader of last year’s Second 100 list at No. 101, jumped to a latest-year ranking of No. 79, while the rest landed at Nos. 82, 83 and 84, respectively.
The other new entrants benefited from a decision to eliminate contract specialty divisions from the chain tables because of a lack of true chain branding among some of those organizations, as well as the difficulty of consistently gathering detailed information about contract divisions or chains from their owners. In addition, some contract “chains” increasingly were reporting sales from concepts franchised or licensed from others, which contributed to possible double reporting of chain numbers, among other potential problems with provided or estimated numbers.
Still, many of the new chain additions have hovered near the top of the Second 100 for several years as a result of organic growth, and some may have once fallen out of the Top 100 into the Second 100. In either case, they have found new life in the top tier by way of the removal of contractors.
Meanwhile, one chain, Cheddar’s, is entirely new to the Top 200. The casual-dining chain, which earlier this year filed notice with securities regulators that it intends to make an initial public offering of stock, makes its debut at No. 92 in U.S. systemwide sales rankings.
And one last note, the decision to remove contract chains is not to say that the progress and challenges of U.S. contract operations are no longer important to the Top 200 census. The survey will continue to showcase the gains or losses of their combined divisions on the Top 100 and Second 100 “Companies Ranked by U.S. Foodservice Revenue” tables.