Chipotle Mexican Grill
    The fast-casual segment continues to lead growth within the US restaurant industry.

    With an 11 percent increase in 2013 sales and nearly 8 percent increase in units, fast-casual concepts among Technomic's 2014 Top 500 Chain Restaurants comprise many of the fastest-growing restaurant chains.

    At the same time, leaders Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panda Express posted healthy sales gains (of 12, 17 and 11 percent, respectively).

    Click this picture to view the 50 fastest-growing chains in the Technomic Top 500, as well as the Top 10 growth chains in the fast-casual restaurant segment

    Fast-casual restaurants, with their better-than-quick-service food, ambiance and fresh, "made for you" appeal, continue to align with the needs of today's consumers. While bakery caf├ęs are still doing well overall, unit expansion is now more likely to happen in burger, Mexican, other sandwich and specialty concepts, diversifying the fast-casual landscape.

    "Watch for even more menu and concept diversity in this sector," said Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, Inc. "Also look for more quick-service restaurants and full-service restaurants to realign their formats and develop new fast casual concepts to compete more aggressively."

    The 2014 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report provides Technomic's exclusive sales forecast by menu category, update on franchise and international activity, outlook for the future, market share by menu category, and much more. To dive deeper into the Top 500 U.S. restaurant chains and thousands of other foodservice organizations, Technomic's Digital Resource Library (DRL) provides online access to comprehensive operator intelligence. Subscribers can search and download over 3,500 detailed and continuously updated profiles on U.S. and international chains.