Fast casual restaurants are very popular in America.  According to, the global fast casual restaurant market garnered $125.6 billion in 2019, and is estimated to reach $209.1 billion by 2027. That's likely why it seems there are new fast casual restaurants popping up everywhere.

With that in mind, Simple.Thrifty.Living. conducted a study to determine where the most fast casual restaurants were located and which were the most popular in each state.

All the fast casual restaurants had to meet the following criteria:

  • Have at least 100 locations
  • Have locations in at least 5 states
  • Do not have a drive-through
  • Offer counter ordering
  • Offer indoor dining

You can see all the criteria and their complete formula through, but when it was all said and done it appears that Orlando, Florida is the biggest hot spot in America for these types of restaurants. With all the tourist hot spots in the area, that is understandable.

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They also wanted to determine the most popular fast casual restaurant in each state, so they utilized Google Trends search data from the last 12 months to find out.

While the overall most popular names in the country were Panera and Five Guys, both of which exist in Minnesota and Wisconsin, they were not the most popular in either of those states.

The most popular fast casual restaurant in Minnesota turned out to be (drum roll, please) Chipotle Mexican Grill and the overall winner in Wisconsin was Noodles & Company.

Was that what you were guessing all along? I did guess Chipotle for Minnesota, just based on their popularity that I see in the Northland, but I didn't guess Noodles & Company for Wisconsin. I wrongly guessed Five Guys, but you can't go wrong with any of those places.

Now I'm hungry.

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