Technomic has released one of its most highly anticipated reports, the 2022 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, which includes expert findings and insights into the sales performance of U.S. chain restaurants in 2021. The report is built using decades of historical data, providing a detailed analysis of the foodservice industry and overarching trends; annual sales and unit counts by chain and segment; and pandemic-related recovery metrics.  

“2021 was a year like no other for the Top 500 chain restaurants,” said Kevin Schimpf, director, industry research and insights. “Drastic shifts in market conditions led to unprecedented volatility in results for the industry’s largest chains. While overall Top 500 sales surpassed pre-pandemic benchmarks, more than half of all ranked chains fell short of returning to 2019 performance levels.” 

Key findings include: 

  • Top 500 chain sales hit a total of $361 billion in 2021, increasing by 18% on an annual basis  
  • Widespread rollback of dining restrictions and historically high levels of inflation were key factors driving the expansion of Top 500 sales 
  • After declining the prior year, Top 500 location footprint expanded slightly in 2021 to a total of more than 226,000 restaurants 
  • The chicken menu category posted double-digit sales growth for the third consecutive year, paced by strong results from chains like Raising Cane’s, Slim Chickens, and Jollibee 

Technomic has been producing a ranking of top U.S. chain restaurants since 1978. The latest ranking is available for purchase now:

Source: Technomic