Many restaurant chains in the U.S. are traded publicly either on the Nasdaq Stock Market or the New York Stock Exchange. This includes full-service restaurants, fast-food restaurants, or their parent companies. Fast food restaurants hold the largest share of the market with nearly 300,000 locations in the U.S. and a market size of about $293 billion. Among full-service restaurants, independent or family-operated locations have more of the market than the chains. Independent restaurants have more than 180,000 locations and a market share of about $170 billion compared to 118,000 and $139 billion for the chains.
Stocks are separated into categories based on market capitalization. This is the value of a company, calculated by multiplying the price of its stock by the number of outstanding shares.
There is no official standard for categorizing companies by market cap, but large-cap companies are generally those that have values in excess of $10 billion. Only a few publicly traded restaurant stocks fall into this category. Companies are listed with their stock tickers in parentheses, whether they trade on the NYSE or Nasdaq, and other relevant details:
- McDonald’s Corporation (MCD): NYSE. Iconic fast-food brand with more than 37,000 locations worldwide.
- Restaurant Brands International Inc. (QSR): NYSE. Brands include Tim Hortons and Burger King.
- Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM): NYSE. Brands include KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.
Mid-cap companies typically are those with values that fall between $2 billion and $10 billion. There are many more of these among restaurant brands than there are large-cap stocks:
- Aramark (ARMK): NYSE. Food-service provider for public and private institutions.
- Bloomin Brands Inc. (BLMN): Nasdaq. Brands include Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.
- Brinker International Inc. (EAT): NYSE. Brands include Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy.
- Cannae (CNNE): NYSE. Brands include 99 Restaurant, Bakers Square, Village Inn, and more.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG): NYSE.
- Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (CBRL): Nasdaq.
- Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI): NYSE. Brands include LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden.
- Domino’s Pizza Inc. (DPZ): NYSE.
- Dunkin Brands Group Inc. (DNKN): Nasdaq. Brands include Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.
- Jack in the Box Inc. (JACK): Nasdaq. Brands include Jack in the Box and Qdoba Mexican Grill.
- Papa John’s International Inc. (PZZA): Nasdaq.
- Texas Roadhouse Inc. (TXRH): Nasdaq. Brands include casual dining steakhouses.
- The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (CAKE): Nasdaq. Brands include upscale casual restaurants.
- Wendy’s Company (WEN): Nasdaq. Hamburger chain with more than 6,500 company-owned restaurants and franchise locations.
Small-cap companies typically are those with values that fall between $250 million and $2 billion. Publicly traded restaurant stocks that fall into this category include:
- Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. (ARCO): NYSE. From Argentina, one of the largest franchisees of McDonald’s restaurants.
- Biglari Holdings Inc. (BH): NYSE. Holdings include Maxim magazine and Steak and Shake fast food restaurants.
- BJ’s Restaurants Inc. (BJRI): Nasdaq. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.
- Bojangles’ Inc. (BOJA): Nasdaq. Southeastern regional chain of chicken and biscuit restaurants.
- Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. (TAST): Nasdaq. Burger King franchises.
- Chuy’s Holdings Inc. (CHUY): Nasdaq. Tex-Mex food.
- Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc. (PLAY): Nasdaq. Entertainment and dining restaurants.
- Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group Inc. (DFRG): Nasdaq. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak house, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, and Del Frisco’s Grille.
- Del Taco Restaurants Inc. (TACO): Nasdaq. Quick service Mexican.
- Denny’s Corporation (DENN): Nasdaq. Full-service restaurant chain.
- DineEquity Inc. (DIN): NYSE. Applebee’s and IHOP.
- El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (LOCO): Nasdaq. Fast-casual restaurants.
- Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc. (FRGI): Nasdaq. Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana.
- Potbelly Corporation (PBPB): Nasdaq. Sandwich shops.
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. (RRGB): Nasdaq.
- Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. (RUTH): Nasdaq. Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
- Shake Shack Inc. (SHAK): NYSE. Burgers, fries, etc.
- Sonic Corp. (SONC): Nasdaq. Drive-in restaurants.
- The Habit Restaurants Inc. (HABT): Nasdaq. Hamburgers and specialty sandwiches.
- Wingstop Inc. (WING): Nasdaq. Chicken wing restaurants.
- Zoe’s Kitchen Inc. (ZOES): NYSE. Mediterranean dishes.
Market capitalization of less than $250 million generally is categorized as micro-cap. Publicly traded restaurant stocks that fall into this category include:
- Ark Restaurants Corp. (ARKR): Nasdaq. Restaurants, bars, and fast-food restaurants.
- BBQ Holdings (BBQ): Nasdaq. Famous Dave's.
- Chanticleer Holdings Inc. (BURG): Nasdaq. Hooters franchises.
- Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc. (SAUC): Nasdaq. Bagger Dave’s Burger Taverns and Buffalo Wild Wing franchises.
- DriveShack (DS): NYSE.
- FAT Brands Inc. (FAT): Nasdaq. Fatburger, Buffalo’s Café, Ponderosa, and Bonanza Steakhouses.
- Flanigan’s Enterprises Inc. (BDL): NYSE. Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill.
- Good Times Restaurants Inc. (GTIM): Nasdaq. Good Times Burger and Frozen Custard and Big Daddy’s Burger Bar.
- J Alexander’s Holdings Inc. (JAX): Nasdaq. J. Alexander’s, Redlands Grill, and Stoney River Steakhouse & Grill.
- Jamba Inc. (JMBA): Nasdaq. Juice and smoothie retailer.
- Kura Sushi (KRUS): Nasdaq.
- Luby’s Inc. (LUB): NYSE. Luby’s Cafeterias and Fuddruckers.
- Nathan’s Famous Inc. (NATH): Nasdaq. Hot dog restaurant's outlets can be found in malls, campuses, and other tourism and entertainment locations.
- Noodles & Company (NDLS): Nasdaq. Fast-casual restaurants.
- Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc. (FRSH): Nasdaq. Pizza over 1,400 locations.
- Rave Restaurant Group Inc. (RAVE): Nasdaq. Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza with over 500 locations.
- RCI Hospitality Holdings (RICK): Nasdaq. Upscale gentleman's clubs and restaurants.
- The ONE Group Hospitality Inc. (STKS): Nasdaq. Upscale restaurants and lounges.