Drive down any major U.S. thoroughfare, and you are bound to pass chains that sell hamburgers, fried chicken, tacos and sub sandwiches. But if you’re hankering for cashew chicken or Thai noodles, you’ll likely need to find a local establishment — at least for now.
Despite the maturity of the fast-food industry in the U.S., the Asian category is still relatively untapped on a national level. Among the top 500 chains in the U.S. only about 1.7% of sales are from Asian chains, according to Technomic.
Traditionally, fast-food chains have not seen as much opportunity in the sector due to several factors, including the large number of reasonably priced mom-and-pop restaurants and the fact that in some corners of the country Asian dishes weren’t considered mainstream enough for the average palate. But as the chain restaurant giants scour for increasingly scarce growth opportunities in the U.S., the sector is looking a lot more attractive.