rank last year: 46
Canada’s favorite quick serve scored some big gains in the U.S. with 90 additional net stores and $60 million or so more in system-wide sales over 2011. The company is making a push for more military veteran franchisees, while on the menu side of things, new breakfast paninis and a Thick Cut Hickory Smoked Bacon were on-trend successes.
rank last year: 44
Nothing much to report out of the famously tight-lipped and strategically slow grower In-N-Out, although a fair amount of intrigue circled the brand this year as the world got to know company heiress Lynsi Torres, a 30-year-old race car driver who is one of the world’s youngest female billionaires.
rank last year: 45
The LTO-happy Baskin-Robbins managed to hold steady at No. 45 on the QSR 50, a year after plunging down the list. It may be a sign that the Dunkin’ brand has finally figured out how to coexist with the growing crop of frozen-yogurt concepts.
rank last year: 43
One year after CEO Mike Shumsky said CiCi’s was “at the start of something big” with its “Build the Brand” initiative, the company actually finds itself a few steps back. CiCi’s saw both its unit count and systemwide sales drop in 2012.
rank last year: 48
A 2011 brand initiative that led Captain D’s to roll out an upgraded prototype, tweak its core batter-dipped fish, introduce new menu items, improve its company culture, and market more to moms and kids is now paying off. In 2012, Captain D’s had an all-time high in same-store sales growth—9.2 percent for company stores and 7.5 percent for franchised units—and set the record for highest AUV in brand history. Further, Captain D’s has experienced 23 consecutive months of compounding sales growth to date. The company is in the process of rolling out a new broiler program to its stores, a program that lets the brand invest in its new fire-grilled menu that features items like grilled salmon.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
rank last year: 53
Moe’s spent the last few years knocking on the QSR 50’s door, and after a 2012 that saw it score big unit-count and system-wide sales gains, the Mexican fast casual finally earned its due. The FOCUS brand has no plans to slow down growth, and with hundreds of franchise development agreements in place, it’s growing by about 20 percent each year.
rank last year: 54
Another newbie to the QSR 50, Wingstop is thriving on a low-cost store model, high customer demand for wings, and ample opportunity to saturate new markets. The brand is so hot, even rapper Rick Ross signed on as franchisee.
rank last year: 65
The demand for more nutritious menu offerings has served Jamba Juice well, as the California-based brand continues to grow with lighter smoothie, juice, and food options. A new store design, kids’ meal menu, and consistent focus on the company’s “Team Up for a Healthy America” initiative, which promotes a healthy, active lifestyle among customers and especially kids, have the company prepped to make waves on the QSR 50 for years to come.