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The 25 fastest-growing restaurant chains in America by unit count

While 2020 was a year of unprecedented difficulties for the restaurant industry, many chains — 198 out of the Top 500, to be exact — managed to grow the number of units they had open.

Many of the fastest-growing chains by unit count began with a small number of units — Wahlburgers and Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar had just 30 stores each in 2019. But some larger restaurant chains also managed to open an impressive number of units in 2020, including Donatos Pizza, Scooter’s Coffeehouse, Chicken Salad Chick, Shake Shack and Wetzel’s Pretzels, all of which had more than 100 units in 2019 but still managed to grow by at least 21% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this gallery, see the 25 restaurant chains that saw the biggest year-over-year domestic unit growth in 2020. See which big chains got bigger, which small chains powered through, and which restaurant tops the list having more than doubled in size.

The Top 500 report is presented by Nation’s Restaurant News and Datassential, using insights from Datassential’s proprietary Firefly platform. Datassential’s Firefly is the ultimate strategic tool — No. 1 operator database, lead generator, customer marketing and intelligence platform, all-in-one. Learn more about getting complete access at

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