The fastest-growing restaurant chain in America isn't a trendy fast-casual. It's a simple sandwich shop.
On Tuesday, Nation's Restaurant News released its annual Top 100 rankings, which included a breakdown of the 10 fastest-growing US chains as measured by sales growth in the US.
There are plenty of new and exciting restaurant chains out there, serving everything from raw fish to vegan burgers, but when it comes to shocking sales growth, chains serving reliable American favorites lead the pack.
Americans seem to be craving chicken more than ever. This year, three of five fastest-growing restaurants were chains selling chicken fingers, wings, or sandwiches.
Here are the five fastest-growing restaurant chains in America in 2016:
The chicken chain had a standout year, growing sales 18.1% and moving into new markets including New York City.
One major indicator of Chick-fil-A's success is its incredibly high estimated sales per unit, which reached $3.5 million this year. That is more than any other limited-service or chicken concept on the market, and it is roughly three times as much as an individual location of its rival KFC. Analysts say exceptional customer service sets the chain apart from the competition.
4. Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers
This is the second year in a row in which Raising Cane's has made NRN's list of the 10 fastest-growing chains, this year managing sales growth of 21.1%. The chain has 251 locations and is expanding quickly, increasing its store count by 19% in the past year.
The fastest-growing chicken chain in America grew sales 21.5%. But that's nothing new for Wingstop -; in March the company reported 12 consecutive years of sales growth. Executives say the chain has had lasting success by sticking to a formula that works.
"When we started 21 years ago, we sold wings, sides, and fries," Morrison told Business Insider last year. "We've had the same three sides on the menu since the beginning. We've added boneless wings over the years, and we've added two new flavors. That's innovation for us."
2. Marco's Pizza
The 667-location pizza chain is growing sales faster than any other, with an increase of 23.7%. The pizza industry is hot right now as new tech makes ordering and delivery easier than ever before, and the Toledo, Ohio-based chain is ready to cash in on the trend.
1. Jersey Mike's Subs
This is the third year in a row in which Jersey Mike's has led NRN's fastest-growing chains list, boosting sales 28.6%.
A large part of this growth is due to rapid expansion. In 2011 the chain had 507 locations. The chain doubled that in four years, breaking the 1,000-unit mark in late 2015. Jersey Mike's isn't slowing down -; the company wants to have 2,000 locations by 2019.