4 up-and-coming chain restaurants adding locations throughout U.S.

Posted at 9:47 AM, Feb 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-25 13:50:10-05

Wall Street could be changing the fast food options at your nearest restaurant cluster.

The business successes of Chipotle and Shake Shack might lead others to add more restaurants as patrons demand affordable, quality food that can be served in a hurry.

On Jan. 28, The stock market valued Shake Shack at $700 million despite the company only having 63 stores worldwide. Chipotle, meanwhile, has long been loved by investors after going public in 2006.

The industry is budding with up-and-coming entrepreneurs who have grown up in the Chipotle era where restaurants are making personalized, portable meals that do not cost a fortune.

Modmarket co-founder Anthony Pigliacampo said he and others in the restaurant world have been inspired by Chipotle. Modmarket has 12 restaurants in Colorado and Texas with plans for eight more this year. The restaurant offers a variety of healthy menu items made from scratch.

“They’re proving people want something different than what is out there,” Pigliacampo said.

Pigliacampo said Chipotle taught the industry when the company removed pork items from some locations after learning the meat was not humanely raised. The industry assumed customers would revolt if a major product was pulled, he said, but patrons simply shrugged and chose something else.

“Because they trust the concept,” he said.

Affordable places aiming for a more urban feel complete with better quality ingredients are popping up all over, said Sam Oches, the editor for QSR magazine. The trade magazine covers the fast food and fast casual dining industries.

“The restaurant industry is a hot space right now and specifically in the fast casual industry with the success of Shake Shack, with the success of Chipotle with the success of some others, investors are very hungry to find that next big thing,” Oches said.

Oches said he foresees ethnic options and healthy options as possible realms where younger restaurant chains could boom while old standbys such as McDonalds has endured problems.

“A lot of the struggles on the quick service side of things are because fast casual is just exploding in popularity and growth and is really stealing a lot of that market share,” he said.

Here are four growing restaurants you might see in your travels.

Locations: 12 (eight more coming this year)
Where: Colorado and Texas
Style: Healthy food made from scratch
Signature dish: Flatiron Salad Grilled natural Black Angus steak, roasted fingerling potatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, caramelized yellow onions and handmade balsamic vinaigrette atop a bed of mixed greens

Locations: 21
Where: Ohio, Indiana and Michigan
Style: Fast casual modern Italian eatery
Signature dish: Piada, a thin crust Italian dough cooked on a stone grill and wrapped around meats, veggies, cheeses, sauce and dressing chosen by the customer.

Locations: Nine (six more listed as coming)
Where: Washington D.C. region
Style: Restaurant offers patrons the chance to build their own pizza with a variety of meats, veggies, oils and finishes
Signature dish: Maverick (shown above) — pizza with classic tomato sauce, housemade mozzarella, salami, 39-day aged pepperoni, Italian sausage, oregano oil and parmesan reggiano

Luke’s Lobster
Locations: 13 locations in New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia
Style: Luke’s Lobster has a menu stuffed with Maine-style lobster, crab and shrimp
Signature dish: Lobster roll (above) — The $15 menu item includes lobster, a New England split-top bun and Luke’s Lobster’s secret signature blend and mayonnaise.