Since the beginning of fast food, the hamburger has been the reigning champion of the fast casual restaurant industry. In recent years, however, it seems that the American fast food craze has shifted its focus to the chicken sandwich. Perhaps fueled by the famous “Chicken Sandwich Wars,” beginning in 2019 between Chick-Fil-A and Popeyes, quick-service chains have seen a rise in demand for fried chicken sandwiches in drive-thrus across the country. As a response, many franchises upgraded their chicken sandwich recipe, and even restaurants that are known for burgers rolled out new chicken sandwiches to participate in the trend.
According to industry statistics, the market size of fast food chicken franchises in the United States has grown 4.8% annually between 2017 and 2022, and it is expected to increase another 4.5% in 2022 (IBISWorld). Goodman Real Estate Services Group represents several quick-service chicken restaurants, such as Slim Chickens, Chick-fil-A, and Dave’s Hot Chicken, who have experienced this growing success. According to QSR Magazine, Slim Chickens has had a groundbreaking year, opening almost 40 new locations and being named the Breakout Brand of the Year by QSR Magazine in 2021. Chick-fil-A has also continued steady growth even throughout the pandemic, and was named #3 in The QSR 50: The Fast-Food Industry's Leading Annual Report. Dave’s Hot Chickens was named one of the Top 10 hottest brands by Fast Casual in 2021. It appears that the chicken restaurant takeover will not be slowing down any time soon.