The fast-casual restaurants that we had an eye on in 2017 have been rapidly expanding throughout the nation. These establishments have been forcing larger brands to re-evaluate their own operations as they thrive across the country. Here is a list of 40 of the upcoming fast-casual restaurants that we decided to recognize. Let’s begin!
Grown is a restaurant that is dedicated to being 100% organic. They use fresh ingredients without GMOs, preservatives, hormones, or processed sugars. Everything on the menu can be made vegetarian or vegan upon request; the kids’ menu is completely gluten-free. Grown’s first location was in Miami, and three locations have opened in Miami sports stadiums, and Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, and the latest one opened in an Orlando-area Walmart. Founder of Grown, Shannon Allen, plans to open more non-traditional locations as they continue to expand.
Junzi Kitchen was founded by three Yale graduate students who specialize in Northern Chinese staples like noodle bowls and wraps. The Kitchen also offers specialty small plates and cocktails for the weekend customers. Junzi Kitchen first opened during the summer of 2017 in New York and is currently working on two more locations.
Founders David and Leslie Silverglide first purchased the company from a private-equity group in 2012 and created their own brand in 2016. Mixt focuses on sustainability, local, non-GMO, and organic ingredients. They care about creating delicious meals that support healthy lifestyles.Their restaurant also carries an enhanced beverage menu, with options like craft beer, artisan wine, and a kombucha bar. Mixt currently has 11 locations mainly in San Francisco, but they plan to continue expanding throughout the state.
‘Witchcraft’s fast-casual restaurant has been around 2003. They struggled in the beginning of their journey with having to downsize from 20 to 6 locations. In 2016, ‘Witchcraft’ had a makeover and featured a bold new branding and in-store design that revolved around fresh ingredients. This sandwich restaurant is ready to grow and is looking at possibly expanding throughout Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
Keely Newman and Kelley Bird are the founders of Grabbagreen who wanted to develop more wholesome food options. Grabbagreen’s healthy menu features bowls, salads, juices, smoothies, and other options. Their food is designed around superfoods and unprocessed ingredients without preservatives, GMOs, or hormones. Their restaurant is unique in the way that everything is made in less than five minutes from raw to cooked. A lot of their ingredients remain raw because they steam their vegetables and proteins. They don’t grill their food items, so they don’t carry carcinogens. Grabbagreen has locations in Idaho, Texas, and Temple.
Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
Jon Rollo launched Greenleaf in 2007 when he wanted to create a restaurant where people could feel good about eating every day. Rollo wanted a restaurant with clean, healthy food that are also delicious. Their menu consists of salads and sandwiches, as well as pizzas, tacos, and plated entrees. The Greenleaf locations also include full bars and on-site chef gardens where hey can source their own ingredients for both food and cocktails.
Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill
Steven Paperno is the founder of Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill. They first opened in 1992 when the term fast-casual didn’t even exist. But, he designed his restaurant to be just that, a fast-casual experience. At Sharky’s they combine authentic Mexican recipes with fresh, natural, and organic ingredients. Sharky’s has recently grown to 28 locations in California, Nevada, and Oregon, through franchising.
Debbie Roxarzade began her career in the restaurant industry when she was in charge of seven restaurants that served fresh food at affordable prices. After relocating to Las Vegas, Roxarzade launched Rachel’s Kitchen in 2006 with a menu featuring breakfast, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and juices all using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Rachel’s Kirchen began franchising in 2010 and is now considering expanding throughout Arizona.
Oath Craft Pizza
Oath Craft Pizza began in Washington, D.C. and they are a fast-casual pizza restaurant that uses sustainably sourced ingredients. The pizza crusts are hand-stretched, then grilled and seared in avocado oil for extra crispiness. Oath has since expanded in Boston when they opened six locations around the city. They have secured a $7 million investment in 2017 and is planning on expanding more soon.
Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw was founded in 2011 by Kim Malek and her cousin, Tyler. Their approach to starting this restaurant was to grow organically. They focus on ingredients such as blue cheese with pears, olive oil, and bone marrow. Salt & Straw creates each 5-gallon batch by hand and add all mix-ins during the process. They currently have 12 locations throughout Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Nearly a decade ago, Jason Mann and George Frangos created Farm Burger with the idea of building it from the farmer’s point of view. “Farmers are a shrewd bunch.” Mann had worked as an organic farmer in California before moving to Georgia and quickly started a movement. They only source locally, with antibiotic-free and ethically raised meats by using the whole animal. Farm Burger puts equal care into its products, with premium salad and vegetarian options. They currently have 13 locations North Carolina, California, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.
President and co-founder Rick Malir have helped grow the restaurant to 35 locations in six different states. City Barbeque has house-smoked meats, scratch-made ingredients, and “backyard hospitality” to create an authentic barbecue experience. They are expected to expand to eight more locations in 2018.