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The next Chipotle? One firm thinks it could happen

Food preparation at a Chipotle restaurant

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Searching for the next big hit

With a Henry Ford-esque assembly line and a streamlined menu, Chipotle has made a lasting mark on the restaurant industry, and its stock price reflects that.

Since debuting in 2006, shares have surged about 3,200 percent.

Investor appetite has not just been limited to the Mexican chain. Recently, many fast casual restaurants—an industry term for restaurants serving more premium ingredients at slightly higher prices than fast food—have hit the market and seen strong demand.

For investors who want to get in on Chipotle-like growth at an earlier stage, PrivCo recently released a report about five chains that could be the next fast casual hit.

Read More10 restaurant chains with the best buzz

To find them, the firm sifted through roughly 850,000 private companies in the database. It focused on fast casual chains that were still relatively early in their growth stage but had already demonstrated a track record of success. PrivCo took into account investor interest, client interest and media coverage to narrow the list down.

So which chains have the potential to generate big returns just like Chipotle, according to PrivCo?

Click ahead to read more.

By Katie Little, Staff Writer, CNBC.com
Updated 22 September 2015
Posted 25 July 2015

Source: Chipotle