Subway ranked third overall on Entrepreneur's 2014 list of the top 500 franchises, and the sandwich chain was named the fastest-growing franchise company across all industries. Jimmy John's, Pizza Hut and Dunkin' Donuts made the top 10, and another 12 restaurant chains were ranked among the top 50.
Burger 21 is a three-year-old fast-casual "better burger" concept that has taken lessons from rivals' earlier efforts and aims for steady franchise growth, said Mark Johnston, chief concept officer for the brand. The menu includes 10 beef and 10 non-beef burgers, as well as one rotating monthly special. The chain, created by the company that manages The Melting Pot restaurants, has seven locations and expects to end the year with about a dozen in six states.
Fast-casual sandwich chain Togo's signed 38 agreements for new restaurants and opened 11 new units in California and Oregon last year. CEO Tony Gioia said he attributes the franchise's success to brand loyalty, low startup costs and quality staff training. Gioia said the company has big plans for the future, including actively pushing for expansion into new western U.S. markets and establishing the goal of opening 400 units by 2015.
Restaurants now make $19.3 billion in annual revenue from catering, compared to about $4 billion for retailers, according to Technomic, and fast-casual chains are seeing the biggest growth as companies look to offer high-quality food on a budget. "With the current economy, fast casual restaurants are the perfect option to meet both needs," said Capriotti's executive Jason Smylie.
Le Duff America has named industry veteran and former Corner Bakery Cafe president Jim Vinz as co-CEO. The company is Le Duff's North American arm, which oversees management of several concepts including la Madeleine Country French Café and Bruegger’s Bagels.