In their respective geographic areas, these are the brands that are widely recognized and that recorded 2014 sales worthy of a Top 10 ranking.
To identify the Top 10 regional chains, FSR started with brands that had at least 10 locations at the end of 2014, were located in a concentrated geographic area or region, and had systemwide sales that approached $100 million—and in three instances, topped the $200 million mark. Among these regional chains are some undeniable heavy hitters, a rejuvenated veteran brand, and a handful of rising stars.
Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub
Region: New England and New York
Down one unit and still Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub managed to increase its revenues 2.9 percent in 2014, as the brand remains steadfast in serving its all-American fare with a nod to New England flavors and cuisine. It has strongly established itself in its New England home turf, and three suburban towns—including its home base of Woburn, Massachusetts—boast two to three locations, which is unusual for a full-service chain in a small market. Under the American Blue Ribbon Holdings umbrella that includes O’Charley’s, Max & Erma’s, Village Inn, and Bakers Square, the Ninety-Nine offers a sizable gluten-free menu and, in May, tweeted that it was creating new vegetarian dishes and sought customer feedback.
Total 2014 sales: $280.5 million
Unit count: 104
Saltgrass Steak House
Locations: Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas
Saltgrass Steak House originally opened in Houston in March 1991, and has gradually expanded into its current 52-unit operation. Up two units and touting a 7.2 percent systemwide sales increase in 2014, Saltgrass specializes in prime cuts of char-grilled beef. Also on the menu are seafood, poultry, ribs, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. While a little more than half of its restaurants are located in Houston or Dallas, the brand has made small inroads into neighboring states and Nevada. A new Waco location is expected to open by late summer.
Total 2014 sales: $221.9 million
Unit count: 52