Chain Restaurants You're About To See Everywhere In 2022

If there's one thing most of us can admit about the past few years, it's that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we eat, as noted by U.S. News & World Report. And, for a lot of people, that's meant eating out a whole lot more. Maybe not dining in at restaurants per se, but the data shows that drive-thrus have seen a major boost in the past two years, and digital sales within the food service industry have skyrocketed across the board, according to CNN.

And, as we're all picking up dinner more often these days, we're not just forced to head to the likes of McDonald's and Domino's. The fast casual and chain options available today are virtually endless, with local and regional chains continuing to gain speed amid today's taste for freshness, originality, and new technology, making it easier to get food to our doors. And 2022 is poised to be no different, with a number of chains making big plans, likely in a city or town near you. Mashed has done all the digging. These are the chain restaurants you'll be seeing everywhere in 2022.

Shake Shack

For all the east coast natives, west coast converts, and Shake Shack lovers in between, here's some good news: The beloved burger chain has big plans for 2022. More specifically, Shake Shack is planning its biggest expansion ever this year, as the company's CEO said recently (via Restaurant Dive). Up to 50 new restaurant locations are in the works — and, while the company does maintain a heavy presence in the eastern half of the country, many of the new locations are in the Midwest as well. This will put Shake Shack at just over 260 total locations, meaning a lot of Shack Burgers to go around.

And that's not all that Shake Shack has cooking: This year, the chain plans to start opening up restaurants with drive-thrus for the first time. The first one is open in Minnesota, with nine more reportedly coming in 2022 (per Restaurant Business). You can actually point to the pandemic for this, partially. Because of the growing demand for contactless and digital ordering, which was certainly augmented by the pandemic, Shake Shack is giving its ordering system a digital makeover and is even redesigning restaurants, as Business Insider noted.

Raising Cane's

Louisiana-based Raising Cane's is holding on tight to its designation as the country's fastest-growing chicken chain (via Investopedia). The company just opened its 600th location — in Corona, California — kickstarting even more plans to expand in 2022 (per Restaurant Observer). Raising Cane's says it will open 100 new locations across the country over the next year.

COO AJ Kumaran also announced this will add a whopping 15,000 jobs to the company's roster (via Fast Casual), along with a lot more opportunities to get your hands on Raising Cane's signature tenders and sauce. You'd think that shouldn't be too hard for the chain, given that it was listed as one of the best companies to work for in the U.S. last year, according to Glassdoor. But this is an aggressive goal in the midst of an ongoing fast food labor shortage, as noted by Business Insider. And, in an effort to meet its targets, Raising Cane's has even sent hundreds of corporate employees into its restaurants, not only to work as fry cooks and cashiers, but to help recruit new hourly workers to keep all these locations up and running.

Jersey Mike's

While today's fast casual lunch options wholly run the gamut in terms of cuisine options, sometimes nothing hits the spot like a classic, stuffed sub sandwich. Luckily, there's a Jersey Mike's near you when a craving hits. The sandwich chain, which got its start in New Jersey (of course), has been making subs for more than 50 years, and you can pretty much get it any way you like. They promise to serve up "a sub above," and, judging by their growth, they seem to be delivering on that promise.

Jersey Mike's now has more than 2,000 restaurants around the country (in 49 states to be exact), and it's not stopping there. Driven by massive digital investment and a solid company culture (via QSR magazine), the chain said recently it plans to open roughly 1,000 new locations over the next few years, including more than 300 in 2022 alone (per Nation's Restaurant News).

Little Caesars

If anyone is calling 2022 their year, it's Little Caesars. The pizza chain, which consistently lags behind Domino's and Pizza Hut in sales (via Restaurant Business) has had it rough over the last few years, closing more than 100 locations (per QSR magazine). Now, it's Hot-N-Ready to make a comeback, with big plans for growth in 2022, which includes plans to open more than 200 new locations this year.

And, get ready New Englanders, because the biggest concentration of new locations is coming to your region, with more than 50 locations planned across Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. The Seattle and Portland, Oregon, areas are also about to get a lot more Little Caesars love as well, according to Pizza Marketplace. The chain points to the pandemic and a huge increase in pizza deliveries for the boost in business that's made this possible (via QSR magazine), which is pretty significant considering the company didn't even offer delivery until two years ago, as USA Today noted.


What was once a secret only Texans really knew about is finally about to make its mark on the rest of the country. The burger and chicken and gravy goodness (not to mention those fries) that is Whataburger could soon be coming to a city near you. The iconic Texas chain was totally family-owned until 2019, when the owners sold a majority stake to a financial firm, specifically so that Whataburger could grow and expand beyond the lone star state, as Restaurant Business noted. Now, it's ready to make that happen, with new restaurants planned for Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Colorado, and more (via Houston Chronicle).

Texas expats from all over can rejoice, though probably no one more so than Patrick Mahomes.  According to Texas Monthly, the Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback loves the chain so much, he's investing in the development of dozens of those new locations in Kansas and Missouri. Because what's better than rolling through your favorite drive-thru after practice?


With more than 6,500 restaurants worldwide, not to mention a killer social media game, Wendy's is pretty ubiquitous in the world of fast food. And, while it might not seem like this chain has much room to grow, Wendy's would disagree. The company just opened 150 new locations in 2021, with plans to open another 250 this year. According to Restaurant Dive, it's all part of a larger goal to reach 8,000 restaurants by 2025.

And that's not the only reason it's about to get a whole lot easier to get your Wendy's fix without even having to hit the drive-thru: The chain announced its plans to open several hundred ghost kitchens around the U.S., U.K., and Canada over the next few years. The kitchens won't have dining rooms or cashiers, but they will have plenty of Baconators and will basically help fulfill increasing delivery orders, according to CNBC.

Del Taco

Del Taco's eclectic menu of burgers, burritos, chicken tenders, and tacos means there's always something to satisfy your craving. Essentially, Del Taco is for everyone, and, perhaps, that's why even more people seemingly want access to the growing fast food chain. The company was just bought by another big name in the game, Jack in the Box, which has double the footprint of Del Taco and plenty of resources to help grow the brand (via Nation's Restaurant News).

In reporting on the deal, the Los Angeles Times noted that Jack in the Box, which is almost solely franchise-owned, may be hoping to see its franchisees add new Del Taco restaurants to their rosters. This means you may see more Del Taco and Jack in the Box locations near each other in the future, and you may have a lot more trouble deciding what to grab for your next quick bite.

Firehouse Subs

If the success of Burger King and Popeye's are any indication, then Firehouse Subs is about to be all over the map. The sandwich chain, which already has a solid presence with 1,200 locations, was recently acquired by the same parent company as the aforementioned juggernauts of fast food, Restaurant Brands International (via QSR magazine).

And, after spending $1 billion (via CNBC), the company has made no secret of its big plans for the brand. Bloomberg reports that RBI is already planning to open new Firehouse Subs locations, both in the U.S. and internationally, though no specific numbers were given yet. Plus, in announcing the deal, RBI CEO José Cil noted the "tremendous potential to accelerate U.S. and international growth at Firehouse Subs with RBI's development expertise, global franchisee network and digital capabilities," which sounds like a pretty good sign for the future of this fast casual chain.

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant

Nestled mostly in the Midwest and Florida, Cooper's Hawk is a name that may not be on a lot of people's radar as it stands. However, that may soon change. The restaurant and winery, which calls itself an "upscale casual chain," offers a wide-ranging menu of globally-inspired cuisine. It also has its own, rapidly-growing wine club with more than 350,000 members (via Bloomberg). Whatever is going on at Cooper's Hawk, it's working, making it one of the top five fastest-growing restaurant chains in America (via Reader's Digest).

Now, the chain is gearing up to go public this year, seeking a whopping $1 billion valuation in its stock market debut. According to Restaurant Dive, there are already at least seven new restaurant locations in the works, and we can bet you're going to start seeing even more of Cooper's Hawk as the chain continues to grow.


If you're looking for a step up from Taco Bell, and Chipotle is no longer doing it for you, then up-and-coming Tacombi may be just the spot for you. The laid-back New York-based taqueria serves up street-style tacos on homemade tortillas along with margaritas by the pitcher at more than a dozen locations. This chain even won the backing of restaurateur royalty, Danny Meyer himself.

According to Bloomberg, Meyer's Enlightenment Hospitality Group is now the chain's lead investor, helping Tacombi round up more than $27 million in funding as it looks to grow. That starts with expansion. This year, Tacombi has plans to open several new locations in Maryland, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with adding more restaurants in New York, Washington D.C., and Miami. And, at least a dozen more locations are planned for 2023, with the goal of reaching 75 in the next five years (via Eater).

MOD Pizza

For most of us, a plethora of pizza options are usually always nearby, no matter where we are. Between Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Little Caesars, and everything in between, we don't really need anymore pizza, do we? But then again, there's always room for more pizza. Considering one in three people have turned to pizza as their comfort food of choice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enter Seattle-based MOD Pizza, which has only been around since 2008 but has already made a big name for itself in the world of cheesy pies. The chain known for its artisan-style pies and massive toppings bar has seen unprecedented growth in recent quarters, even amidst the pandemic, and it's using the moment to fuel even more expansion. MOD Pizza has already announced plans for at least 30 new restaurants over the next several years (via QSR magazine). And, it's working on plans to go public, which would bring a major source of cash and likely even more growth (via Restaurant Dive).


You may not have heard of Philippines-based Jollibee, but that's probably going to change soon if the chain has anything to say about it. The primarily chicken-focused fast food brand has actually been in the U.S. for more than 20 years, operating dozens of locations in the states, everywhere from California to New York.

Now, Jollibee is setting its sights higher, with some pretty aggressive expansion plans. We're talking upwards of 500 new restaurants in the U.S. and Canada over the next several years, according to Restaurant Dive). The company's North American president told Restaurant Business that people have come to know and love Jollibee's take on bone-in chicken, and the rest of its unique menu, which also includes burgers and pasta, especially during the pandemic-induced take-out boom. And, as the chain's sale numbers keep climbing, so does the chance that a Jollibee could soon be opening near you.