Restaurant Franchise Trends for 2022

Industry Info | Jan 1, 2022

Person with smartphone uses Noodles & Company franchise app to order food

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Franchise Association projected that 26,000 new franchise businesses would open in 2021. Continued growth throughout the year proves the restaurant franchise industry is back and better than ever.

As we ring in 2022, it’s evident that the restaurant franchise industry is a smart investment that’s in high demand. While the calendar may be transitioning to a new year, there are a few restaurant franchise trends we’re carrying into 2022. Here’s what you need to know.

Fast Casual Franchise Trends to Look for in 2022

The Importance of Off-Premises Dining

Off-premises dining isn’t exactly a new concept. Pre-pandemic, one study found that off-premises dining, such as drive-thru, takeout, and delivery, represented nearly 40% of total restaurant food and beverage sales. The popularity of off-premises dining has grown even more over the last two years and this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

According to the National Restaurant Association, customers have been receptive to off-premises dining as well as technologies that enhanced efficiency and safety. In a report by the same body compiled in November 2020, researchers surveyed 1,000 adults about their habits and found the following results.

  • 66% stated they ordered takeout or delivery for dinner within the last week
  • 47% ordered lunch in the last week
  • 35% ordered a breakfast meal or beverage in the last week
  • 79% of consumers used restaurant delivery at least once a month

When compared to past surveys, the percentage of off-premises dining (between March and November 2020) was found to be consistently higher than before the pandemic. Since then, seamless takeout and delivery options have become a must for restaurant franchises. That’s why Noodles & Company has perfected our model with takeout, curbside pickup, pickup windows, and direct delivery.

Ordering and Delivery Apps

As the demand for off-premises dining increased, so did the use of food delivery apps. This means online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup must be factored into every restaurant franchise’s business plan. In many ways, the pandemic accelerated customer demand for delivery options that otherwise may have taken years to achieve.

According to an article by Boston Consulting Group, delivery’s market share jumped from 7% in 2019 to nearly 20% in 2020. Across the restaurant industry, digital ordering currently represents 28% of all orders (compared to 10% before the pandemic). This proves that online ordering is continuing to grow in popularity, so restaurant franchises that offer an easy and efficient ordering experience will stay on top of this trend.

Multi-Unit Development

In the fast-casual franchise industry, you’re in control of your professional future. In recent years, multi-unit franchising (owning multiple units within one or several territories) has become a smart investment strategy for business owners. We find that restaurant franchise owners are drawn to multi-unit ownership because they enjoy the potential to own their markets and earn greater financial gains.

Owning multiple units can also be a safer investment plan because it means the franchise owner doesn’t have to depend on just one location for all of his or her revenue.

Learn more about Noodles & Company’s recent multi-unit franchise growth initiative.

Are You Driven to Nourish and Inspire?

At Noodles & Company, we know that people are our greatest asset. If you’re ready to bring unique, family-friendly flavors to your market, Noodles & Company is here to help! From comprehensive fast-casual franchise training to operational support and marketing efforts, we’re here to turn your dreams of business ownership into a reality.


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