The restaurant world is constantly in flux, with new and exciting voices emerging all the time to challenge the status quo.
But behind those influential voices shaking things up stand the Goliaths of the restaurant industry. Below you'll find a list of some of the biggest and influential restaurant groups and companies in the United States.
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This industry report collects data from restaurant professionals and guests to help you understand what it takes to create a successful restaurant experience from start to finish.
8 Influential Restaurant Groups and Enterprises
1. Invest Hospitality
Why? Because of its influential chef.
Joël Robuchon died in 2018 but his legacy lives on – he stands as the most Michelin-starred chef in the world, clocking in with 31 Michelin stars.
His restaurants – including L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Joël Robuchon Restaurant, and La Boutique de Joël Robuchon – all fall under the Invest Hospitality Group.
The mind behind Invest Hospitality Group created and certainly influenced some of the most noted dishes of all time. And many aspiring chefs have likely been influenced by Joël. For decades, he – and now his restaurant group – have had an undeniable influence on the restaurant industry.
Why? Because it's the biggest.
Ok, no surprise here: McDonald’s is large and in charge.
McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain by revenue, using its size and influence to reshape the industry for decades. McDonald's continues to have an enormous influence on things like menu engineering, technological advancement, franchise strategy, and efficiency.
3. Maison Boulud Group
Why? It's beloved by guests and the media.
Maison Boulud Group's leader Daniel Boulud boasts some of the best restaurant ratings in the U.S.
From its restaurant, Daniel, being listed on Business Insider’s Best Restaurants in America, to earning a solid 4.8 from Zagat, to being awarded two Michelin stars, to receiving thousands of near-perfect ratings on OpenTable, Yelp, TripAdvisor, the Maison Boulud Group has earned its clout and influence.
This restaurant group's focus on delighting their guests keeps them on top – and is inspiring restaurant owners and operators everywhere to aspire to achieve such prestige in guest satisfaction.
4. The Team Behind Compass Rose and Maydan
Why? They have growing buzz.
If you live in D.C., chances are you know about Maydan. If you don’t live in D.C. and you follow restaurant news, chances are you still might have heard of them.
Why are they so influential? After Michelle Obama's appearance, media outlets like Food and Wine, Tasting Table, Forbes, and Eater couldn’t stop talking about the restaurant’s menu, which explores flavors from Tangier to Tehran and Batumi to Beirut.
Why? It's the biggest pizza restaurant group in the world.
After narrowly edging out ahead of Pizza Hut's 2017 sales, Domino's officially became the biggest pizza company in the world.
Domino's is showing that consumers want their pizza fast and want their experience to be customizable and digitally-optimized. As they make these guest aspirations a reality, they're sure to influence their competitors' business decisions this year.
Why? They're growing fast.
Is there anything better than a juicy, flame-grilled burger? How about an organic one stuffed to the brim with all of your favorite toppings that doesn't break the bank?
You can thank Bareburger for helping usher in the “burgers with a mission” trend over 10 years ago, and it’s working.
Bareburger today boasts over 30 locations and is one of the biggest emerging chains in the U.S.
7. White Castle
Why? It's been operating for the longest amount of time.
With McDonald's on this list, you might be quick to forget that White Castle is actually the oldest restaurant chain in the U.S.
The chain has been pumping out fun-sized sliders since 1921. And, they're as relevant as ever. The chain is keeping it fresh with Opening Ceremony-designed uniforms, and has its eye on technology and data systems.
With so many restaurants in the country, many look to the ones that have stood the test of time to see how to be adaptable, guest-centric, employee-obsessed, and successful. White Castle is one such restaurant company to keep your eye on.
By providing health insurance and charging a 2% kitchen appreciation fee — and by saying "thank you" every day — Ming Tsai shows his staff he cares.
Why? It's got the trailblazing business lead.
Boston’s Trade has been one of the hottest restaurants in Boston thanks to its chef-owner Jody Adams, who was recognized as an inductee for the 2018 James Beard Foundation's Who’s Who of Food & Beverage.