Chain Restaurants That Are Going To Be Everywhere In 2023

As we near the end of 2022, it can be useful to look back on what restaurants are still kicking. The coronavirus pandemic hasn't made things easy, seeing how its impact remains today. Some companies, like Chuck E. Cheese, Golden Corral, IHOP, and Luby's, have been negatively impacted, closing dozens or more locations since 2020. These businesses are among the chains that people thought were sure to be lost in 2022, as they struggle to stay open. 

But other restaurants are bouncing back and even thriving. We know a company is in good financial health due to many factors, including profitability, according to Investopedia. When these chains make bigger profits, we may see them opening more locations. As these successful companies expand, restaurants that thrived in 2022 may be a more common sight in 2023.

This could be good news for fans of some popular restaurant chains. It could also mean your town is getting a new batch of fast food favorites or that your food options may be expanded while traveling. To find out which chain restaurants you're going to be seeing everywhere in 2023, read on.

Marco's Pizza

Marco's Pizza was founded in Toledo, Ohio in 1978. Over the past few decades, it's expanded into a company with over 1,100 locations across 33 states, as well as some in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Per Scrape Hero, most of those Marco's Pizza locations are in the Eastern U.S., with Texas, Florida, and Georgia at the head of the pack with the highest number of pizza shops. Popular menu items like the Pepperoni Magnifico and the White Cheesy are a hit with customers of Marco's Pizza.

There may be even more places to get a Pepperoni Magnifico in 2022 because Marco's Pizza is expanding fast. The company plans to grow to 1,500 stores in 2023, with 200 stores already in development. At least 20 new locations will pop up in Colorado alone. The brand is also looking at specific cities — including Dallas, Austin, and Miami — for places to expand its business.

Shake Shack

Restaurateur Danny Meyer doesn't seem like the type of guy to open a hot dog stand. But that's just what Meyer did with Shake Shack. In 2001, Meyer opened a temporary food cart in Manhattan's Madison Square Park, as per Investopedia. Within a few years, the successful hot dog stand evolved into a burger stand. Today, Shake Shack operates over 360 brick-and-mortar restaurants across the U.S. (via Zippia), with most restaurants based in its home state of New York, as well as spots like California and Texas.

Many more people are about to experience the beauty of the Shake Shack "shackburger" and not just because of the chain's 2022 collaboration with "Hot Ones." That's because Shake Shack plans to open 20 to 25 additional drive-thru locations. According to Restaurant Dive, the chain said in a letter released to shareholders in August 2022 that it's going big on drive-thrus in 2023, focusing on profitable stores. On average, Shake Shack locations with drive-thrus make around $80,000 per week, whereas those without are making around $76,000. At the time of the announcement, Shake Shack had only six drive-thru locations, so prepare yourself to see that number go up shortly.

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is an American chain that was founded in 2002. Founders Bill and Randy Simon, sons of World War II veteran "Freddy", named the chain after their father and first opened in Wichita, Kansas. Over the years, Freddy's has become known for its thin yet crispy "steakburgers" as well as its shoestring French fries, hot dogs, custards, and more. In 2020, it opened its 400th location.

As of 2022, Freddy's operates 445 locations and is looking to open many more. Per an October 2022 press release, the company announced that it's going to open at least 12 more locations in Nebraska, Montana, Iowa, and Texas, among other states. These are mere preludes to the many franchises that Freddy's has in the works, to the tune of 100 coming units. By 2023, there could be more than 500 Freddy's locations for us to patronize across the U.S.

First Watch

First Watch is a name you may not be familiar with, but it's one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country. The initial location opened back in 1983, in a small town on the central coast of California called Pacific Grove. First Watch has built its popularity off delicious breakfast and lunch menus made all the more important because the chain doesn't serve dinner. Fans still wake up early for dishes like Million Dollar Bacon. As of fall 2022, there are over 445 locations of First Watch.

By 2023, there are to be many more. According to FSR, the chain plans to open between 38 and 48 new locations that year. Given that one year First Watch opened 60 locations, this doesn't seem like much of a challenge. But it would still be an enormous feat for First Watch to open dozens of new restaurants in 2023. Because the brand wants to one day have more than 2,200 locations, they had better get moving.

The Habit Burger Grill

The Habit Burger Grill got its start in 1969 when the first location opened in Goleta, California. The second, in Santa Barbara, wouldn't appear until 1996 but it would come to be associated with the beach-inspired identity of The Habit. Over the years, the brand has grown in size due in part to the popularity of its freshly grilled "charburgers" and interesting sides such as tempura green beans. Those beans are so good that they might be the real reason for this chain's recent success.

In 2020, The Habit was purchased by Yum! Brands, the parent company of fast food giants like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. With Yum! Brands now behind it, The Habit is starting on a journey to operate 2,000 restaurant locations. As of fall 2022, it has around 330. Restaurant sibling KFC operates more than 25,000 locations, while Taco Bell has more than 7,000. By comparison, The Habit's goal of 2,000 doesn't seem overly ambitious at all, especially with a fast food conglomerate at its back. We expect to see much more of The Habit in the future.

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen has made headlines for its celebrity investors. Back in 2018, Oprah Winfrey donated a huge chunk of money to the company. The amount was undisclosed, reports the Phoenix Business Journal, but Oprah's contribution was reportedly enough to double the company's growth. In 2022, Priyanka Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas were on the investment team of a company that donated $100 million to True Food Kitchen. It was the largest investment that the chain received thus far. 

This health-conscious chain's founder is somewhat of a celebrity himself. True Food Kitchen was founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, a proponent of alternative medicines, as per Britannica. As part of his research, Weil designed an "anti-inflammatory food pyramid" that still shapes the chain's menu today. As a result, at this eatery, there are many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options in an extensive menu of salads and bowls. Today, there are more than 40 locations of True Food Kitchen, but with all those investments, we expect to see more.

Blaze Pizza

This customizable pizza chain was founded in 2011 by Rick Wetzel and his wife Elise. If you have a hunch about that last name, you're correct: Rick is indeed a co-founder of Wetzel's Pretzels (via Restaurant Business). Blaze Pizza is a little more formal than that famous mall fixture, to the point where some call Blaze Pizza a "fast-casual" chain — somewhat of an upgrade from "fast food." Regardless of terminology, it's a place where you can receive a pizza with all your preferred toppings in around 180 seconds. There are even options for keto and vegan diners. Per Scrape Hero, there are more than 300 Blaze Pizza locations as of 2022, spread across more than 30 different states.

Blaze Pizza opened 14 restaurants in 2021 and has continued to move forward since then. If you live in the Southern or the Northeastern United States, there will probably be more Blaze Pizzas in your area soon. In March 2022, it was reported that new locations were coming to Tennessee, while the chain then said that it would also be opening locations in Georgia and Maine.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie Cafe was founded in 1997. Its health-focused menu features an extensive selection of green juices and fruit smoothies. Customers also can add spoonfuls of supplements such as collagen, pea protein, vitamin B12, and more to their beverages. Along with all the seemingly endless options for healthy drinks, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has an extensive food menu that includes sandwiches, wraps, salads, and sides to pair with produce-filled beverages.

This menu must be working for some people, given that Tropical Smoothie Cafe appears to be taking off in 2022. In April, the chain reported that it was starting the year with its highest number of cafe openings thus far. Namely, it opened 42 new cafes, as well as signed 56 new franchise agreements during the year's first quarter alone. By October, Tropical Smoothie Cafe had opened 119 new restaurants. With all of this growth, you're going to see more of these healthy smoothie spots around.

Teriyaki Madness

Teriyaki Madness opened its first location in Seattle in 2003. By the start of 2022, it had over 100 franchise shops in operation, per FastCasual. The brand then announced plans for further expansion in Canada, as per Restaurant News. Teriyaki Madness hopes to launch five Canadian locations in 2022. Currently, the brand already has a small international presence, with two locations in Canada and Mexico. With the speed at which this chain is moving, we expect it won't take long to get those new franchises up and running. In August 2022, Teriyaki Madness claimed it was adding new locations on an almost weekly basis.

If a Teriyaki Madness location shows up nearby, anticipate expanded Japanese-inspired food options for the neighborhood. The chain's menu consists of flavorful teriyaki bowls with various chicken options for protein, as well as steak, salmon, and spicy tofu. Customers can also add on sides such as crab rangoon, edamame, egg rolls, and potstickers.

Jersey Mike's

Many people are already familiar with Jersey Mike's. The sandwich chain has been serving authentic, Northeastern-style sub sandwiches since 1956, with a selection that's popular for anyone who's got to cater to a large group, and fast. It's got a classic meat-and-cheese selection of cold subs, but Jersey Mike's also offers hot sandwiches such as the ever-popular cheesesteak. As in so many other fast-casual sandwich shops, these meals are usually accompanied by a drink and a bag of chips.

As of fall 2022, Jersey Mike's has around 2,200 restaurants in operation. Entrepreneur reports that the chain believes it can one day open as many as 10,000 locations and so has the goal of opening 500 stores by the end of 2022 (via Nation's Restaurant News). Since it opened as many as 200 new stores during 2020 — one of the worst years for the restaurant industry ever, thanks to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic — we believe in the brand's ability to succeed in less trying times. Nothing seems to be slowing Jersey Mike's down.

Chick-fil-A

With its unique policy of being closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A always seems to be playing hard to get. Yet it remains a contender in the fast-food chicken sandwich wars and has many loyal fans. Besides its signature chicken sandwich, this popular chain's menu also features chicken nuggets, breakfast biscuit sandwiches, salads, shakes, and waffle fries. That's not to mention the exceptional friendliness of its employees, long considered another iconic trait of this chain.

With all of that in mind, Chick-fil-A seems poised to continue the growth it began in 1946 when S. Truett Cathy opened its first location. In October 2022 alone, the chain was poised to open five locations in Texas, Hawaii, California, and New York. On top of that, Chick-fil-A has opened a new restaurant in New Jersey (via Jersey Digs) and plans to open another location in Brooklyn in 2023, as per the New York Post.

Raising Cane's

Raising Cane's may have a pretty limited menu for a fast food spot, with a lineup that consists of chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, Texas toast, and drinks (as well as its beloved Cane's Sauce). But don't use that as an excuse to dismiss this chicken-focused chain. While small, Raising Cane's is thriving thanks to its flavorful chicken and devoted fanbase. Since 1996, when the chain opened its first storefront, Raising Cane's has continued to grow. We expect to see even more growth in 2023.

Per QSR, the chain plans to open 100 additional stores in 2022. That's in addition to the 69 locations it had already opened in 2021. Given that sort of progress, it's easy to see how the chain's lofty goal might be achieved. To help run those stores, the company said it would hire 15,000 new Raising Cane's employees, including some at the restaurant's first-ever location in Michigan, which opened in East Lansing in October 2022 (via The State News).

Popeyes

Popeyes faces its share of critiques, such as complaints about dry biscuits levied against the chain by angry Redditors. But, looking at the numbers, it's clear that biscuit woes aren't going to be taking down this chain anytime soon. Per Chain Store Age, there are over 3,700 locations of Popeyes out there and, according to reports of new expansion plans, this fast food chain is going to increase that number by 2023.

According to RestaurantDive, Popeyes wants to add another 200 locations by 2023, with spots in both the U.S. and Canada. In early August, the chain signed a deal indicating yet more expansion in China (via Nation's Restaurant News). Popeyes' global expansion may seem like a new thing — the first London location launched in 2021 — but it already has a presence in nearly 30 countries. As it continues its international growth, Popeyes locations are going to seem more common.

Wingstop

Since the first Wingstop opened in 1994, it's developed a growing fan base for its chicken wings. Although it's true to its name and so there isn't a lot of variety on its chicken wing-focused menu, you can rustle up some excitement by personalizing wings with different flavors. But it must be popular during times other than during football season because Wingstop's number of locations is growing rapidly.

In February 2022, Forbes reported that Wingstop was flourishing, despite rising chicken prices that threatened its livelihood. In 2021, the chain opened 193 new outlets, with a total of more than 1,700 restaurants by the beginning of 2022. It's planning to continue that growth, too. Per a March 2022 press release, Wingstop announced plans to open four ghost kitchens in Madrid. Inside the U.S., Wingstop has opened two new restaurants in Connecticut, one in Manhattan, and one in Canada in 2022.  By 2023, Wingstop might be inescapable.

Pokeworks

In April 2022, restaurant chain Pokeworks announced that it would be bringing 50 new locations to the Great White North. To be clear, these Canadian restaurants don't have a 2023 deadline, as Pokeworks said that it would open them over the next decade. It's not bringing poke to Canada alone, however. In August 2022, FastCasual reported that the company signed a deal to open 10 American restaurants over the next three years, focusing on markets in California, Texas, and New York.

With the increased possibility to encounter a Pokeworks location in 2023, it's time to get acquainted with both the concept of poke and how it's served up at this chain. The focus of the Pokeworks menu is, of course, a plethora of poke bowls filled with fresh fish, rice, and a bevy of additional toppings. To round out a meal, sides include edamame, seaweed salad, and miso soup.