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Emerging Fast-Casual Franchises Coming In Hot in 2021

These three emerging fast-casual franchise restaurants could make major waves in the coming year.

With so much still up in the air about the pandemic, it’s hard to know what businesses will die or thrive over the course of the next few months. However, one thing is for sure: The restaurant industry is evolving and making headlines across the country. Pre-pandemic, the world was full of sit-down eateries and dine-in restaurants. Even fast food restaurants like McDonald’s offered their customers places to sit and relax. Now, the landscape of restaurants and dining has been forever changed. 

Fast-casual restaurants offering high-quality menu items without the sit down element are booming post 2020. Take a look at these three three emerging fast-casual restaurants in 2021. 

Velvet Taco

This Dallas-based taco and Tex-Mex franchise was originally founded as a traditional sit-down restaurant. Now, Velvet Taco has transformed into a fully on-the-go operation, even offering to-go margaritas. The 18-unit chain had to make significant changes during Q2 of 2020, most of which were in their kitchens to improve order turnaround and increase sanitation. “During this pandemic, we’ve jumped to 60 percent takeout, that’s been huge for us,” Clay Dover, Velvet Taco President and CEO said.  

Protein Bar & Kitchen

Starting as a small storefront in Chicago, Protein Bar & Kitchen has now grown into an eight-unit franchise (with four more in development for this year) concentrated in the city. Focusing on serving healthy food, smoothies and juices, Protein Bar & Kitchen is expanding in the new year with locations set to open in Washington D.C. and Colorado. Health and wellness are becoming more and more important as people continue to social distance amid the pandemic, and with a focus on healthy habits, a lifestyle food brand like Protein Bar & Kitchen has potential to see success. 

Burnt End BBQ

Kansas City is famous for its barbeque, so it’s no surprise that one of the coolest and tastiest emerging BBQ franchises is coming out of the city. Burnt End BBQ has been concentrated at three locations in downtown Kansas City for a number of years. Now, they’re looking to expand nationwide. With a new location just opening in Denver, and with Kansas City BBQ having a cult following nationwide, the brand is slated for growth in the new year. Burnt End BBQ is famous for their platters, sandwiches and one-of-a-kind rooster bowls.