Chains to Watch in 2018

Everyone dreams of their business growing and becoming a famous part of the American hospitality landscape. So which chains are expecting a promising 2018?


&pizza: This oddly named, D.C.-born fast-casual pizzeria has grown into a mini-empire since its first store was established in 2012, now with two dozen locations under its belt. It snagged $25 million in funding in 2016, opened its first NYC location in mid-2017, and also recently partnered with fellow mover-and-shaker Milk Bar (which is poised for big expansion of its own) to open a tandem location in D.C. Co-founder and CEO Michael Lastoria has said that &pizza’s sales per square foot rival Shake Shack’s.

Beefsteak: Another big-name chef to dive head-first into fast-casual is Jose Andres. The first outlet of his vegetable-centric spot opened in Washington, D.C., in 2015 and now has five locations total in DC and Philly serving sandwiches, bowls, soups, and salads with a focus on freshness. Beefsteak has national expansion-shaped stars in its eyes, but first it’s figuring out what it wants to be when it grows up: Its current locations include a college campus, a hospital , and a shopping mall, a varied mix that should help the budding chain figure out its target demographic.

Halal Guys: From a single (albeit extraordinary popular) Manhattan food cart to a rapidly expanding chain of fast-casual brick-and-mortars, this new chain is going big-time. The company currently has 70 locations — nearly all of which are franchises — across the country and many, many more in the works.

Rise Biscuits & Donuts: The same franchising group that’s aiding Halal Guys’ major expansion has also set its sights on this North Carolina-based breakfast spot, which slings fancy creme brulee doughnuts alongside fried chicken biscuit sandwiches. From a single independent location in 2010 it’s now grown to 15 locations, with several more slated to open in the first quarter of 2017 and 130 more locations currently in development across 10 states.


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