FSR magazine, the leading news source for full-service restaurant operators, chefs, and leaders, released its annual FSR 50 report, which ranks the 50 top-grossing full-service restaurant brands in the U.S. This year marks the first time FSR has partnered with research and consulting firm FoodserviceResults to integrate comprehensive financial performance data—including systemwide sales, average unit volumes, and store counts—into the report.

Olive Garden was the top performer, grossing $4.35 billion in sales. Applebee’s followed at $4.09 billion, then Buffalo Wild Wings at $3.7 billion, Chili’s at $3.55 billion, and IHOP at $3.3 billion. Restaurant/winery Cooper’s Hawk was also one to watch, having posted the greatest growth in terms of both sales and unit count by percentage.

The FSR 50 also features updates on respective brand activity over the past year. These retrospectives include details on how the restaurants have responded to the coronavirus crisis, which has unevenly affected full-service operators over their quick-service counterparts. The report’s quantitative data reflects the 2019 fiscal year, and therefore does not reflect the impact of the coronavirus.

“In terms of economic hardship, the hospitality sector is perhaps the hardest hit by the pandemic. Despite this, many of the chains featured in this year’s FSR 50 were able to adjust their businesses quickly—no small undertaking for a service model that prides itself on in-person experiences,” says FSR editor Nicole Duncan. “The financial numbers in this year’s report will serve as a baseline that FSR and others in the industry can use to gauge restaurants’ recovery from the coronavirus and its wide-reaching effects.”

While the current and near-future effects of COVID-19 harm the foodservice industry as a whole, full-service chains, including the ones in the FSR 50, stand to benefit from a less competitive landscape once the pandemic ends and economic recovery begins.

“2019 showed low sales growth for [full-service] restaurants with limited expansion in a saturated environment,” says Darren Tristano, CEO for FoodserviceResults. “In the current, post-COVID economic environment, expect significant closures from independent restaurants, reducing the saturation and helping full-service chains weather the storm and gain share with greater resources and deeper financial pockets.”

To view the report and read more about the 50 restaurant brands and their respective responses to COVID-19, visit fsrmagazine.com/2020-fsr-50.

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