Denver is on a Rocky Mountain high, with a winning quarterback, a growing population, and a thriving arts and culture scene. Now the Colorado metropolis has another reason to brag: The city is the best destination for fast-food restaurant operators.

According to QSR magazine’s third-annual Growth 40 report, Denver is the No. 1 large market in the U.S. for quick-service restaurant growth potential.

“Denver has a lot of things going for it: population growth, a thriving business climate, and a popular food and beverage scene,” says Sam Oches, editor of QSR. “And between 2011 and 2016, the city’s quick-service traffic is expected to increase 11 percent. These and other factors will contribute to it being a popular destination for limited-service brands.”

The Growth 40 is the result of a partnership between QSR and NPD Group, a leading source for foodservice trends and performance indicators. The report found the top 15 large markets (more than 2.5 million residents), 15 medium markets (1­–2.5 million residents), and 10 small markets (less than 1 million residents) for growth potential.

Waco, Texas, is the top medium market, while Yuma, Arizona, is No. 1 among small markets. But Denver, with its size and potential, offers the best opportunity for restaurant operators looking to grow in a new city.

“The entrepreneurial spirit and business climate in Denver go a long way in making the city an attractive target for quick-service operators,” Oches says. “Major restaurant companies, including Chipotle, Red Robin, and Smashburger, are based there, giving Denver a deep foodservice talent pool to draw from. So it should certainly be in the plans for any growing quick-service brand.”

To review the Growth 40 report and see which other cities made the cut, visit For more information, contact Sam Oches at

About QSR magazine

QSR magazine is a thought leader for the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industries. Now in its 16th year of publication, QSR takes seriously its role in promoting industry values through its award-winning editorial content. In 2012, the magazine furthered that mission by promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, and in 2013, it will spotlight the many contributions women make to the foodservice industry.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News