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The Top 500 Restaurant Chains to Post Unit and Sales Growth in 2014

Asian will increase units by 5.1 percent. 

The 500 largest restaurant chains will increase their total number of units by 2.3 percent this year, according to data from Technomic, the Chicago-based market research firm. The increase is slightly higher than the 2.1 percent growth rate from 2012 to 2013 and much greater than the 0.5 growth rate in 2009.

Among full-service restaurant menu segments, Asian will increase units by 5.1 percent, followed by seafood (3.9 percent) and steak (3.4 percent), per Technomic. Asian/noodle also leads the limited-service menu segments, increasing unit counts by 8 percent while bakery cafés and coffee cafés will grow units by 5.2 and 4.2 percent, respectively.

Among full-service restaurant chains, by adding 65 units Buffalo Wild Wings has experienced the largest growth, according to Technomic. Other full-service concepts posting significant growth rates include Mellow Mushroom (32 units) and LongHorn Steakhouse (24 units). In limited service, Subway will add 908 units by year-end, followed by Starbucks (443), Jimmy Johns (350) and Dunkin Donuts (291).

As a whole, Technomic projects limited-service restaurants will experience a sales bump of 3.5 percent. Fast-casual chains should see a 10.8 percent increase in sales, while quick-service chains increase a nominal 2.3 percent. Full-service restaurants will experience a 2.5 percent sales increase in 2014, similar to the 2.4 percent increase in 2013. The fine dining category continues to show healthy growth, and should increase sales by 5.8 percent. Gains in casual-dining and midscale restaurants will be 2.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively.