Scottsdale eateries among fastest-growing U.S. chains

Two Scottsdale-based companies are among the fastest-growing small restaurant chains in the country, according to 2014 rankings from trade publication Restaurant Business.

Pita Jungle and Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria came in at No. 27 and No. 44 respectively out of the top 50 in the U.S., ranked by percentage growth in company-wide sales.

Restaurant brands on the “Future 50” list are considered by Restaurant Business to be “on the brink of national recognition and remarkable growth.”

Sales at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria grew by about 14 percent in 2013, when the company closed the year with more than 30 locations across the United States. The chain now has 35 restaurants, including recent openings in Baton Rouge, La.; Meridian, Idaho; El Paso, Texas; El Segundo, Calif. and Denver.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria grew out of a coal-fired, brick-oven concept that started decades ago in Brooklyn, N.Y. Scottsdale in 2003 landed the first Grimaldi’s outside of the New York City area and now serves as the headquarters for the rapidly-expanding chain.

The company has 2,500 employees nationally, including 40 corporate employees in Scottsdale, spokeswoman Brittany Maroney said.

Grimaldi’s plans to open 15 more restaurants in 2015, including Greenville, S.C.; Shreveport, La.; Destin, Fla. and Overland Park, Kan. and eventually plans to add another 2,500 employees, Maroney said.

Each pizzeria brings in about $1 million in annual sales, on average, according to the Restaurant Business rankings.

Pita Jungle, meanwhile, boosted sales by more than 22 percent in 2013 after expanding into California, the chain’s first excursion out of its Arizona breeding grounds. The original Pita Jungle started in Tempe about 20 years ago.

The company has about 20 locations in the two states, with each restaurant bringing in about $1.7 million in annual sales, according to the rankings.

Tampa, Fla.-based PDQ, described as a mix of Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out Burger topped the rankings, with a whopping 280 percent increase in sales. The chain is now in six states, primarily in the South.

A location planned for Las Vegas will be the closest to Arizona.

A few other restaurants on the list have made recent forays into metro Phoenix.

Florida’s BurgerFi ranked second and recently opened its first Arizona location near Mesa’s Dana Park shopping center at Val Vista Drive and Baseline Road.

Colorado-based Tokyo Joe’s, which came in at No. 38, recently opened restaurants in Chandler and Mesa.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/12/23/scottsdale-eateries-among-fastest-growing-us-chains/20812921/