Top Stories
Top Stories
Restaurants

10 of America's fastest growing restaurants

Buffalo Wild Wings
Source: Buffalo Wild Wings

In the competitive restaurant industry, relatively few restaurants earn the distinction of being "fast growth."

Indeed, total U.S. restaurant count as of Sept. 30 dropped roughly 1 percent from the year before, according to data from the NPD Group.

But some restaurants are bucking the trend and delivering double-digit sales growth, fueled in part by rapid restaurant openings.

Food industry research firm Technomic crunched the numbers to find the fastest-growing chains in full-service and limited-service dining, as measured by increases in U.S. sales last year among chains with more than $200 million in U.S. sales. Buffalo Wild Wings, shown here, made the cut along with a range of other restaurants from Mexican to sandwich chains.

Click ahead to read more about the five fastest growing chains in both categories.

—By CNBC's Katie Little.

Correction: This article has been corrected to include updated figures from Technomic for full-service restaurant rankings.

Fastest growing full-service chains
Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings | Facebook

5. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar

2014 sales growth: 17 percent

2014 unit growth: 8 percent

2014 sales: $3.24 billion

4. Fogo de Chão
Source: Fogo de Chao

2014 sales growth: 17 percent

2014 unit growth: 9 percent

2014 sales: $205 million

At Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dèe shoun), guests can sample 16 cuts of meat—in addition to salad and sides—to their hearts' content, or until they move up a dress size. Pricing for the unlimited option depends on the market but generally runs about $50 for dinner at the company's 26 locations, which are scattered in large cities across the U.S.

Àla carte and salad-bar only options are also available.

3. Chuy’s Mexican Food
Source: Chuy’s

2014 sales growth: 20 percent

2014 unit growth: 18 percent

2014 sales: $245 million

Serving Tex-Mex dishes since 1982, Chuy's Mexican Food began expanding in earnest in 2009. Since then, the chain has grown to include 61 outposts in 14 states.

It aims for an unique feel in each location with made-from-scratch dishes.


2. Seasons 52
Source: Season 52

2014 sales growth: 21 percent

2014 unit growth: 20 percent

2014 sales: $215 million

With an emphasis on seasonal food and a wide selection of wine, Seasons 52 is one of Darden Restaurants' specialty restaurants. As of the company's last annual report, Seasons 52 stood at 38 locations.


1. Twin Peaks
Source: Twin Peaks

2014 sales growth: 45 percent

2014 unit growth: 39 percent

2014 sales: $239 million

A player in the "Breastaurant" category (mostly sports bars akin to Hooters where waitresses are relatively scantily clad), Twin Peaks has been growing at a fast clip since its founding in 2005. It focuses on providing classic sports-bar dishes such as buffalo wings, burgers and chicken tenders and ice-cold beer in a mountain-lodge atmosphere. True to its category, the wait staff aren't exactly seasonally dressed to hit the slopes.

So far, locations have mostly dotted the Southeast and Midwest.

Fastest growing limited service
Sofritas Burrito by Chipotle
Source: Chipotle

5. Chipotle Mexican Grill

2014 sales growth: 28 percent

2014 unit growth: 12 percent

2014 sales: $4.05 billion

Chipotle Mexican Grill is so closely identified with growth in the restaurant space that emerging chains are often referred to as the "Chipotle of...." The fast-growing Mexican chain has helped propel the growth of fast casual restaurants, which marry more premium ingredients with fast-speed service.

Chipotle is also betting that its formula can translate to more than just tacos. In fact, Chipotle is on the way to becoming the "Chipotle of Asian" with its ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen and the "Chipotle of pizza" with Pizzeria Locale. For now, the fledgling chain remains small as it concentrates its growth on its main Mexican chain.

4. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Source: Dickey's Barbecue Pit

2014 sales growth: 29 percent

2014 unit growth: 28 percent

2014 sales: $426 million

Barbecue is one of those polarizing foods that draw considerable debate: Is vinegar- or tomato-based better? Should barbecue be a noun, verb or both?

Dickey's Barbecue Pit is reaping the benefits of America's interest in barbecue. The chain serves a Noah's Ark of different pit-smoked meats, including pulled pork, beef brisket and honey ham.

The third-generation, family-run company has a wide footprint across 43 states in the U.S. and recently opened its 500th store.


3. Jersey Mike’s Subs
Source: Jersey Mike’s

2014 sales growth: 30 percent

2014 unit growth: 20 percent

2014 sales: $523 million

Before there was sandwich giant Subway, Jersey Mike's Subs had already begun serving submarine sandwiches on the Jersey Shore.

Despite approaching its 60th year in business, the chain continues to expand rapidly. The chain now has nearly 900 locations.


2. Marco’s Pizza
Source: Marco’s Pizza

2014 sales growth: 31 percent

2014 unit growth: 32 percent

2014 sales: $311 million

This Toledo, Ohio,-based pizza chain has been rapidly expanding over the past several years with more than 500 stores currently in 35 states and the Bahamas.

The fast food chain, which makes its dough fresh daily in its stores and uses never-frozen cheese, has 1,500 new locations on the way.


1. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Source: Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers

2014 sales growth: 38 percent

2014 unit growth: 30 percent

2014 sales: $201 million

Privately held Freddy's has 143 restaurants with another 20 set to open this year.

While the fast-casual restaurant seems straight out of the 1950s, it first began selling its signature frozen custard and steakburgers in 2002.