After steady growth in 2019, Technomic predicts 2020 will be the most challenging year on record for the Top 500 chain restaurants

The Top 500 ranks the top chains and shares the toll that COVID-19 will take on each this year

CHICAGO, April 20, 2020—Technomic released the Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, which ranks each top chain by sales performance for the previous year. This year’s report includes insight into what to expect for 2020. Although uncertainty remains about the toll that COVID-19 will have on performance, the initial forecast predicts overall sales to decrease by 12% to 17% this year.

“While the Top 500 chains saw a relatively solid overall sales increase in 2019, the growth gap between the largest players and midsize chains continues to widen,” explains Kevin Schimpf, senior research manager at Technomic. “The 5.7% sales boost achieved by the top 20 chains significantly outpaced the 2.4% growth observed by chains ranked 21 through 500.”

The report is now available for purchase:

Highlights from the report include:

  • Thanks to Chick-fil-A and Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich, the chicken menu category saw sales growth of nearly 10% in 2019
  • Full-service saw significant challenges, growing just 1.6%. Over the past five years, growth has averaged under 2%, while total restaurant count has decreased
  • Limited-service chains propelled 2019 sales growth for the Top 500, with fast casual sales up over 7% and quick service increasing by more than 4%
  • Rank changes included:
    • Chick-fil-A moving up to No. 3
    • Olive Garden becoming the largest U.S. full-service chain
    • Popeyes jumping up five spots and entering the top 20


The Top 500 Report is the industry’s leading chain performance tracker, providing annual sales and unit performance by chain, segment and menu category. Visit or contact us to learn more.

Learn more about the report:

Press inquiries and report details: Kevin Schimpf, (312) 506-3950,
Purchasing details: Patrick Noone, (312) 506-3852,

About Technomic
Technomic, Inc., a Winsight company, was founded as a management consulting firm in 1966. Since then, Technomic’s services have grown to encompass cloud-based B2B research tools, consumer and menu trend tracking, as well as other leading strategic research and analytic capabilities, to prioritize and size business opportunities. Our clients include food manufacturers and distributors, restaurants, retailers and multiple other business verticals aligned with the food industry that are looking to make informed decisions to support their business growth. Visit Technomic at

About Winsight LLC
Winsight LLC is a business-to-business information company serving the restaurant and noncommercial foodservice, convenience and petroleum retailing and grocery industries. Winsight provides research and analytics, branding solutions, face-to-face opportunities, lead generation initiatives, and content marketing services through products including subscription data products, reports, research tools, research programs, fully custom studies, conferences, custom marketing services, meetings, print and digital trade media. To learn more, visit

Winsight LLC is a portfolio company of Pamlico Capital.

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