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January 6, 2015

Whoa There, Shake Shack:
8 Hot Fast-Casual Joints with IPOs

You've heard by now that Shake Shack announced its IPO. We thought we'd look at other fast-casual joints that got to IPO-ville first (and more importantly, let you know where they're located).

Habit Burger Grill

This burger joint, headed up by CEO Russell Bendel, has bragging rights as the first "better burger” joint to go the IPO route. Its 119 locations and $17.4M revenue appear modest, but not when you consider that it had only 26 locations in 2010. The California chain used its $90M offering to open up to 28 more restaurants and begin franchising.

Closest Location to NYC: Fair Lawn, NJ

Next Closest Location: Farmington, Utah. (Another is opening soon in River Edge, NJ.)

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Potbelly

This Chicago-based sub sandwich shop began as an antique store. Founder Peter Hastings began selling sandwiches to increase revenue. The chain now boasts more than 280 stores from DC to New York and went public in 2013 with a $105M offering.

NYC locations: Many.

Brooklyn locations: One.

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Zoe's Kitchen

A Texas-based, Mediterranean-style chain with locations in 15 mainly Southern states, Zoe's went public in April 2014 with an $87.5M offering. It used the money to continue expanding to 131 locations. Seeking Alpha says a lot of attention has been given to rivals such as Chipotle, while Zoe's has less name recognition, so the price of the stock is still below its fair value.

Closest Location to NYC: Marlton, NJ.

Another Way to Get Mediterranean Experience: Buy My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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Papa Murphy's

This Vancouver-based take-and-bake pizza focuses on fresh ingredients prepared in front of you. And with revenue of over $800M, people are clearly buying it. It opened with an IPO of over $64M and has more than 1,425 shops in 38 states, plus locations in Canada and Dubai.

Nearest Location: Hagerstown, MD.

Where You Should Tell Your Rich, Pizza-Loving Friends the Nearest Location Is So They Will Take You: Dubai. 

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Noodles & Co.

This Colorado-based pasta and soup company was founded in 1995. It added more than 120 restaurants during the economic downturn, bringing it to more than 339 serving 26 states. Its 2013 IPO was for more than $96M.

Closest Location to NYC: Fair Lawn, NJ (again!). Who knew Fair Lawn was such a food mecca? After all, if you visit its website, "the Naugle House" gets higher mention than any restaurant.

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El Pollo Loco

The Mexican-style grilled chicken restaurant has over 400 restaurants in five states, with an overwhelming majority in California. The chain, which opened with a $107M IPO, has also seen Chipotle-style growth, making it quite the draw.

Closest Location to NYC: Texas

Farthest Location From NYC in Terms of Political Ideology: Texas

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Dave & Buster's

The arcade eatery is one of a formerly popular group of entertainment-based restaurants, like Planet Hollywood. After the craze died, it was bought out by a private company in 2006…and then again in 2010. Fall 2014 saw its return to the market with 70 stores in tow. But it's not exactly the yummy offerings drawing patrons. It's the games. The chain plans to expand to Seattle and Portland, as well as open locations internationally.

Closest Location to NYC: 234 W 42nd St, 3rd Floor

How to Find It: Google "Chuck E. Cheese for adults."

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Shake Shack

Of course, the reason we're here. If you need a refresher, the popular burger joint has 63 locations worldwide with 36 in the US and 15 in New York City alone. The company plans to open 10 new restaurants a year and is aiming for a $1B valuation.

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