D.C.-area fast-casuals make list of high-growth restaurant chains

Industry trade magazine Restaurant Business identified four Mid-Atlantic fast-casual restaurant chains that are growing at a quick pace. Cava is at the top of the area list with estimated sales of $26.8M, up 76.3 percent in sales in 2016 vs. 2015.

The next fastest-growing chain is Quickway Hibachi, with a 72.1 percent growth rate and estimated sales of $14.1M. &Pizza has grown its sales to $26.1M (estimated), up 69.5 percent from 2015. Estimated sales for Sweetgreen, the most tenured chain on the list, is estimated at $82.4M and those sales are up 58.5 percent.

Here are the top four fastest-growing fast-casuals of this region (ascending order), curated from a national list appearing in Restaurant Business:

#19 overall: Sweetgreen
Estimated 2016 sales: $82.4M
Sales up 58.5 pct
Count up 64.1 pct
2016 units: 64

#14 overall: &Pizza
Estimated 2016 sales: $26.1M
Sales up 69.5 pct
Count up 53.8 pct
2016 units: 20

#12 overall: Quickway Japanese Hibachi
Estimated 2016 sales: $14.1M
Sales up 72.1 pct
Count up 50.0 pct
2016 units: 18

#11 overall: Cava
Estimated 2016 sales: $26.8M
Sales up 76.3 pct
Count up 92.3 pct
2016 units: 25

Cava offers customized, made-to-order entrees, including wraps, salad and rice & grain bowls with fresh ingredients. Proteins include falafel, chicken, lamb and beef. Cava’s sales growth numbers put it close to the top of all fastest-growing fast-casual (upscale quick-service) restaurants across the United States. It was conceptualized in 2006 as a sit-down Greek restaurant and the first fast casual Cava was opened in 2011.

The Mediterranean-style restaurant chain has set its sights on Boston, Charlotte, N.C. and Austin as potential new markets, according to a Business Journal article. Washington, D.C.-based Cava operated 25 restaurants at the time the fastest-growing fast-casual list was put together, and now has 38 units, with a recent grand opening in Bridgewater, N.J. Cava also produces small-batch toppings and spreads, available at Whole Foods.

&pizza’s home base is also D.C. and it is adding new units at an aggressive pace, with locations opening in Ballston and Tysons Corner in Virginia, and another in Adams Morgan in D.C. Its made-to-order, create-your-own (CYO) pizzas, available with seemingly endless toppings, are popular with hungry diners across the region. The chain’s black-and-white color scheme, photography and tribal mood are used to set itself apart in a very competitive fast-casual CYO pizza subsegment.

Sweetgreen was founded in 2007 and is a healthy-dining destination, originally focused on salads, and now serving a variety of healthy offerings, including vegetable and protein bowls, salads, wraps and soups. Quickway Hibachi is also growing rapidly in the D.C. area. Information requested from the chain was not immediately made available for this article.

Photo credit: sweetgreen Facebook