15 Restaurant Brands to Watch in 2019

When looking back on 2018, it was apparent that there were a clear group of concepts that were starting to separate from the pack in the restaurant industry. Restaurant closures topped at 50K closed locations in 2018– so the market seemed to have some correction.

While we did see some closings of lower performers in casual dining with Applebee’s alone closing over 250 locations in the past two years, the good news was the emerging brand's sector saw significant growth. This sector showed better performance in 2018 than any other brand groups.

These emerging brands consist of about 250 total brands that have multiple locations and are starting to take control of categories. Make sure to check out our 2018 Emerging Brands Report and to be on the lookout for our 2019 list.

sweetgreen-logo

All that said, my 15 brands to watch for 2019 are led by a group of leaders that I think have some unique and interesting aspects that put them in the limelight.

For example, Sweetgreen is setting a new standard of what it means to be a restaurant. The restaurant has morphed into a lifestyle brand or platform that will prove to be a new strategy for several brands that have the following.

lemonade restaurant logo

Lemonade is one of these as well and what separates the brand from the pack is its quality and the brand connection that is prevailing in a big way with guests. If they continue on a growth strategy this could be a player in the healthy halo sector very quickly.

Mod Pizza logo

Mod Pizza is another in this group that has clearly won the fast-casual pizza wars, now with over 400 locations and a management team that is geared toward people and culture this brand could be one to bet on.

Cava restaurant logo

My special mention would be Cava, while not on my 15 brands to watch, their acquisition of the Mediterranean fast-casual chain Zoe’s Kitchen creates both opportunities and challenges that I think are worth mentioning. They also have a rockstar group of investors that are a good reason to keep an eye on them.

Don't miss the episode of The Barron Report above where I break down why these brands have that X-factor.

The “Lifestyle Brand” Formula: Authentic Connections and Passion in the Restaurant Industry

The “Lifestyle Brand” Formula: Authentic Connections and Passion in the Restaurant Industry
  • Today’s consumers expect more from their restaurants than just food.

  • With brands like Shake Shack and Taco Bell, how can your restaurant become a “lifestyle brand”?

On this Foodable.io session, brought to you by Kabbage, Host Yareli Quintana explores with &pizza, Pincho Factory, and Intelligentsia what it means to be a “Lifestyle Brand.” As well as how to push past just serving food with panelists who pour their passion for their brands into effective communication and marketing.

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Trying The New Culinary Driven Craft Cocktail Menu at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s L Bar

Trying The New Culinary Driven Craft Cocktail Menu at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s L Bar
  • Utilizing some of the most mentioned food products on social media, L Bar is handcrafting artisan cocktails far from ordinary.

  • Infused spirits, and breakfast inspiration are behind these culinary influenced cocktails.


Tucked into the lobby of the well-known Seminole Hard Rock Resort and Casino, lies the intimate cocktail and music lounge, L Bar. Since 2015, L Bar has been offering cocktail enthusiasts the finest handcrafted cocktails using fresh, seasonal produce and house-made syrups along with inventive techniques to create their nostalgic yet progressive and ever-evolving menu.

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Brunch Salmon Recipe: Seafood Versatility At The Center of The Plate

Brunch Salmon Recipe: Seafood Versatility At The Center of The Plate
  • Foodable Labs reports Love for seafood is on the rise, especially among millennials. Seafood has increased by 24.7% in social mentions by food influencers, showing the most improvement out of all proteins measured.

Featuring Faroe Island Salmon, Chef Pastor and Paul Barron discuss the growing demand for seafood and showcase seafood's versatility with a chef inspired Salmon recipe for a brunch menu application.

Seafood is on trend right now, and there are many reasons for that. Certain species, like Salmon, are one of the most sustainable proteins available to restaurants and consumers. It is also relatively well known that there are health benefits attributed to consuming more seafood. Chefs are innovating and paying close attention to their customer's wants and needs. As a result, we are seeing more seafood at the center of the plate.

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Check Out These Chef Recipes Using Frozen Fresh Alaska Halibut

Check Out These Chef Recipes Using Frozen Fresh Alaska Halibut
  • These chef recipes will bring flair to your menu. 

  • Halibut is sweat, flakey, and easy to prepare. 

Today in the Foodable Smart Kitchen and Bar Studio we take a look at Frozen Fresh Alaska Halibut. Halibut is a naturally lean whitefish with a sweat, flaky, snow-white meat that is easy to prepare and beautiful on the plate. We asked Chef Thomas Stewart, executive chef of Gianni's Restaurant in The Villa Casa Casuarina, formerly known as the Versace Mansion, to demonstrate how to properly fletch a full Alaska Halibut and to create two recipes using Mediterranean and Italian influences that are present in his renowned Cuisine. 

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