• Top 100: Fast casual trends - No. 1

    Tags: Top 100

No. 1: Growth of Fast Casual

Following a year in which Forbes magazine named a "burger joint" as "America's Most Promising Company," the fast casual industry is poised for phenomenal growth in 2013. With $27 billion in annual sales, the fast casual segment now represents 14 percent of all quick-service restaurant sales, compared to 5 percent 10 years ago.

Moving forward, sales are forecasted to compound 8 percent annually over the next five years, according to Technomic. An increasing number of restaurants — such as Denver-based Smashburger, the Forbes' favorite — now rank among the fastest growing companies in the U.S., and many more are experiencing great success with international expansion. Those factors are why Inc. magazine recently pinpointed Fast Casual Dining as one of "The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now."

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