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10 Fast-Casual Restaurants Disrupting the Food Industry

    10 Fast-Casual Restaurants Disrupting the Food Industry

    Fast-casual dining is taking a serious bite of the dining market, growing at a monster 550% clip since 1999. In addition, Americans are spending over $21B for these quicker and cheaper options. Here are 10 fast-casual restaurants disrupting the food industry. (Warning: pictures may cause drool.)

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    1. Chipotle Mexican Grill

    2014 Revenue: $4.57B 

    CEO: Steve Ells

    Number of locations: 1,900

    Opened in: 1993

    Production line-style Chipotle grew explosively with its "food for integrity" business model, meaning no GMOs by 2013. With McDonald's muscle behind them in the early 2000s, Chipotle gained enough financial traction to become a hugely popular fast food option for those more health conscious. Another key ingredient of the Chipotle business is its no-franchising policy, allowing it to keep a close watch on each restaurant to ensure proper food sourcing

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    2. Panera Bread

    2014 Revenue: $2.5B

    CEO: Ronald M. Shaich

    Number of locations: 1,880

    Opened in: 1987

    In 2014, the bakery-café chain rose to the next level when it rolled out Panera 2.0, an enhanced customer experience, to certain locations. The new makeover included kiosks for customers to order from as well as building catering centers made specifically for distributing catering orders. 

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    3. Fazoli's

    2014 Revenue: $225.9M

    CEO: Carl Howard

    Number of locations: 220

    Opened in: 1998

    Fazoli's offers Italian food on the go with build-your-own salad and pasta bowls. Its target are families rather than hungry Millennials and many locations offer a drive-thru option. Like the new feature's namesake of "Drive Under 5" suggests, orders are delivered to guests in five minutes or less. 

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    4. Shake Shack

    2014 Revenue: $152.85M

    CEO: Randy Garutti

    Number of locations: 66

    Opened in: 2004

    Shake Shack prides itself on being a "modern day roadside burger stand," with its origins rooting back to being a food stand inside Manhattan's Madison Square Park. (Not sure how "roadside" that is, though...) Regardless, its tasty crinkle-cut fries have shown such success that it's going to be opening 10 new locations in Japan over the next five years. Domestically, the company has 47 locations grilling up burgers, but plans to one day reach over 450

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    5. Sweet Green

    2014 Revenue: $50M

    CEO: Jonathan Neman

    Number of locations: 40

    Opened in: 2007

    Three Georgetown University undergrads brought this farm-to-table salad chain to life thanks to the help of over 40 friends and relatives to fund the first shop. Just like the Beatles sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends." 

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    6. Pieology Pizzeria

    2014 Revenue: $44.6M

    CEO: Carl Chang

    Number of locations: 60

    Opened in: 2011

    CEO and founder Carl Chang identified a gap in the pizza inudustry when he opened up California-based customizable pizza chain Pieology. It became more of a "convenience food or a coupon food if you will," he says. Either way, he's taken a large slice of the (market) pie. The chain's sales grew by 230% in 2014. 

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    7. Blaze Pizza

    2014 Revenue: $33M

    CEO: Jim Mizes

    Number of locations: 50

    Opened in: 2011

    Celebrities like LeBron James and Maria Shriver have invested in this customizable Southern California-based pizza chain. Maybe it's because of the made-from-scratch dough or the s'more pie. The chain plans to have more than 400 locations by the end of 2020

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    8. Nando's PERi-Peri

    2014 Revenue: $32.6M

    CEO: Burton Heiss

    Number of locations: 20

    Opened in: 1987

    This South African joint is well-known for its flame-grilled chicken. It has locations in over 24 countries and has recently noticed the potential in the US, exploring locations in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. 

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    9. MOD Pizza

    2014 Revenue: $20M

    CEO: Ally and Scott Svenson

    Number of locations: 80

    Opened in: 2008

    This Seattle-based pizza chain was started by a couple with experience in starting successful food chains. In 1994, they founded Seattle Coffee Co in the UK, which was eventually acquired by industry giant Starbucks. With 80 locations nationwide, the two hope to open 18 more by the end of this year. Each pizza is 11 inches and cut into four slices with the ability for consumers to customize. 

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    10. Bagger Dave's Burger Tavern

    2014 Revenue: $27M

    CEO: Michael Ansley

    Number of locations: 26

    Opened in: 2006

    This Michigan-based burger joint combines craft beer with customizable burgers. Need we say more? Its sales increased 44% from 2013 to 2014. Most of its locations are in Michigan but the chain is set to branch off into Ohio.