Some lucky Americans are about to see a brand-new breakfast joint pop up in their cities. First Watch has been growing at a breakneck pace these past few years—and the chain just announced that it plans to grow even more before 2023 comes to a close.
The breakfast and lunch chain, which was recently rated as America’s most loved restaurant brand, gave the public an inside look at its ambitious expansion plans this week. First Watch CEO and President Christopher Tomasso announced in a Nov. 1 earnings call that they had surpassed the 500 restaurant milestone in the latest quarter after opening 13 new locations.
The company plans to open another 18 to 21 additional restaurants across 16 states in the current quarter, which stretches through the end of the year. Tomasso said that those openings would make the fourth quarter “one of the most prolific in the company’s history.” But that’s only a drop in the bucket of their overall growth goals.
“In total, we have over 100 restaurants in various stages of development and more than 120 promotion-ready managers ready to lead them. We believe we are well-positioned to capitalize on the white space in front of us,” Tomasso said.
First Watch’s current long-term goal is to reach 2,200 restaurants in the United States alone. Surpassing that 500 location milestone—the company ended the third quarter with exactly 505 restaurants across 29 states—means that First Watch is now roughly a quarter of the way there.
The chain’s performance over the last couple of years certainly indicates that it’s popular enough to keep up the growth momentum. Per Restaurant Business Magazine, First Watch hasn’t reported negative same-store sales for any period since it went public in 2021.
In the latest quarter, the chain reported a strong 17.3% increase in revenue compared to the same quarter in 2022 and a 4.8% increase in same-store sales. It’s also managed to develop a stellar reputation among its patrons. The chain’s customer experience scores are currently at “historical highs” and “continue to be a great indicator of future performance,” Tomasso said.
The company did note that traffic decreased 1.9% in the latest quarter as the number of off-premise orders declined, but said that traffic in its in-person dining rooms was still positive. Tomasso believes that his team is well-positioned to keep First Watch on track to eventually operate thousands of eateries across the country.
“The ability of our teams to consistently execute at a high level, coupled with our strong brand positioning, underpins my confidence in our potential to quadruple our restaurant count and successfully navigate within virtually any economic environment,” he said in a statement this week.