It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since the inaugural 40/40 List graced the pages of QSR. It was a simple enough idea: Shine a spotlight on 40 up-and-coming but largely under-the-radar fast casuals with fewer than 40 units. That first report created a snowball effect, leading us to discover new concepts and uncover trends that had yet to trickle down to the bigger—and arguably less nimble—brands.
This year we enlisted you readers to help identify the best candidates. Your submissions were vital in compiling the list, and we were enlightened and humbled by such widespread participation.
The criteria for the 40/40 List remained largely the same: chef-driven menus, premium hospitality, a focus on experience rather than value, and ambitions beyond just growth and profit. But the brands themselves couldn’t be more different from one another in how they approach growth (slow and steady or fast and furious?), what specialties they offer (Pig Candy? Vegan sushi?), and what impact they aim to make on the communities they serve and the industry writ large. It’s that wide variety that best exemplifies what the 40/40 is all about: Innovative people and brands going to the beat of just one drum—their own.
Without further ado, here are 40 brands under 40 units that are ready to make their mark on fast casual.
A look at past reports: