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5 Emerging QSR Franchises Poised for Growth in 2022

With the fast-food industry positioned for major growth over the next few years, these small but mighty quick-service restaurant brands are aiming toward national expansion and takeover.

While the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the restaurant industry over the past two years, the QSR segment emerged as a rare winner as customers increasingly sought fast, convenient and off-premise-focused options. The global fast food and quick service restaurant market reached a value of $232 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach a whopping $308 billion by 2027, according to As a result, many of the big QSR brands of tomorrow are likely just getting going today. 

1851 Franchise has compiled a list of some of the best-emerging QSRs to invest in right now. 

Oath Pizza

  • Startup Costs: $350,000–$505,200
  • Unit Count: 29

Oath Pizza is a fast-growing craft pizza brand that has reimagined the pizza experience. Founded in a small seaside shop on Nantucket Island in 2015, Oath Pizza now has 29 locations. The brand and business have been built to scale with a unique product, effective positioning and efficient business model. Oath Pizza operates with a smaller footprint than most of its competitors, requiring fewer employees, a benefit throughout the recent labor shortages. The small footprint also allows for a streamlined kitchen, which has helped with supply chain issues throughout the past year.

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken

  • Startup Costs: $420,500–$598,500
  • Unit Count: 13

This fast-casual chicken and biscuits concept started with a specific focus on fresh-baked donuts, but the first attempt at franchising revealed that this model was too complicated to replicate at scale. So, the team worked to streamline the business model and has since seen strong results, with AUVs for franchised restaurants coming in at just over $750,000 between June 2020 and June 2021. With a hefty percentage of the brand’s sales coming from off-premise channels, the Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken concept is primed for growth across the country. 

Fajita Pete’s

  • Startup costs: $202,500–$460,200
  • Units: 25

This Tex-Mex quick-service dining experience started in 2002 when founder Pete Mora achieved his dream of opening his own restaurant. After a few years of operating, Mora noticed that most of his sales came from to-go orders. So, Mora closed the dine-in restaurant in 2008, and Fajita Pete’s was born. The brand started franchising in 2015 after being purchased by Four Guys Franchising LLC in Colorado. Last year, the brand saw an impressive 13% increase in units and aims to hit 100 locations in the next few years. 

Smalls Sliders

  • Startup costs: $811,834–$1,120,221
  • Units: 4

For this up-and-coming QSR concept, backed by former NFL star Drew Brees, sliders are the main course. The burger chain serves up nothing but sliders, waffle fries and shakes from a pair of restaurants in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After launching its franchise opportunity last year, the brand is set to open four franchise locations in 2022 and is well-positioned to emerge as a new favorite in the segment.

CAO Bakery & Cafe

  • Startup costs: $350,000
  • Units: 12

Based in Miami, this bakery and cafe brand was founded by Tony Cao, whose grandfather famously founded the Vicky Bakery franchise. After a few years of owning and operating his own locations of Vicky’s, Cao set off on his own to begin his own franchise business, CAO Bakery & Cafe. Currently, the concept has 12 locations across the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, but with average unit sales of $1,271,139 for 2019, the emerging brand is sure to catch the attention of more business-savvy entrepreneurs looking ahead.