Key performance indicators in five segments highlight the leading full-service brands in the U.S.

From the biggest corporate restaurant groups in the U.S. to high-performing micro-chains that have only five to nine units, the FSR 50 showcases the full-service brands that achieved significant measures of success in 2014 and that continue to show promise, even as many evolve the dining experience and reinvent the prototype of their flagship brands.

The Top 10 Restaurant Groups

Each of the restaurant empires in this Top 10 counts its revenues in billions and the list as a whole tallied more than $34 billion in sales last year. At a minimum, each restaurant group operates at least two full-service restaurant chains and some of the parent companies have several high-performing chains within their portfolios. Overall, the Top 10 groups represent more than 40 full-service brands with thousands of locations throughout the U.S.

The Top 10 Fast-Growing, High-Performance Chains

Easily categorized as the ones to watch, the restaurants in this Top 10 list achieved unrivaled successes in 2014, recording year-over-year revenue growth that ranged from 25 percent to 58 percent. In most instances, the heightened performance was attributed to a combination of new store openings and improved same-store sales.

The Top 10 Chains Based on AUV

Average unit volume is a measure that speaks to the success of the brand, the parent company, and each individual operation. While full-service brands with hundreds or thousands of units will undeniably have a few weak links across the chain, the players in this Top 10—each of which has 10 or more units—boast uniform success, with AUVs that range from $8 million to nearly $15 million per restaurant.

The Top 10 Regional Chains

From New England to the Mid-Atlantic to the western U.S., the brands on this Top 10 list have chosen to stay closer to home rather than branch out nationwide. That geographic concentration has not inhibited sales performance in the least, and each of these companies has strong market positioning, well-defined demographics, and excellent brand awareness in the area it serves.

The Top 10 High-Performing Micro-Chains

This group recognizes smaller companies—those with five to nine units in the U.S.—that achieved impressive sales in 2014 ranging from $30 million to $80 million. While several on this list are located in the major cities that are known to generate higher sales, emerging chains are also flourishing in secondary markets.

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