Publicly Traded U.S. Restaurant Chains

Complete With Stock Symbols

McDonald's restaurant drive-thru sign
••• Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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.

Large-Cap

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

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

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.

Micro-Cap

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.
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Article Sources

  1. IBISWorld. "Fast Food Restaurants Industry in the U.S.—Market Research Report." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  2. IBISWorld. "Single Location Full-Service Restaurants Industry in the U.S.—Market Research Report." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  3. IBISWorld. "Chain Restaurants Industry in the U.S.—Market Research Report." Accessed April 25, 2020.

  4. Zacks. "What Is the Difference Between Large Cap & Small Cap Stocks?" Accessed April 26, 2020.

  5. Statista. "Number of McDonald's Restaurants Worldwide 2005-2019." Accessed April 26, 2020.

  6. Aramark. "Food Service." Accessed April 26, 2020.