8 Successful Businesses and Restaurant Chains

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for inspiration, read up on the humble beginnings of some of the most successful business and restaurant chains in the U.S. today.

In-N-Out Burger 

Founded in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California, In-N-Out Burger is a fast food chain with restaurants located in the Southwest part of the United States. This chain chooses to not franchise or go public so as to maintain quality and customer consistency through slower growth. Customers consistently rate In-N-Out Burger as one of the country’s best fast food chains. This chain not only serves customers at its stores, but it brings the chain to customer outdoor events in a “cookout truck” in specific cities.

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Chuze Fitness 

So far, Chuze Fitness has gyms in San Diego, Orange County, Tucson, Albuquerque, and Denver. This fitness chain offers everything you could want in a large, state-of-the-art fitness center, yet it charges a low monthly membership fee. In addition to traditional equipment for adults, Chuze Fitness has a kids’ club, a cinema where you can watch a movie while working out, a pool and hot tub, hydromassage, a turf area, group classes, Chuze Blends (healthy drinks), and many other amenities.

Academy Sports + Outdoors 

Academy Sport + Outdoors is a sporting goods discount store chain that is headquartered just west of Houston in Katy, Texas. The chain has 259 stores in the East, the South, and the Midwest, plus an online presence. Having been founded by two partners in 1938, Academy remained privately held for 74 years until it was purchased by an investment company. It’s now one of the largest sporting goods and outdoor stores in the U.S. Sales exceed $4.8 billion yearly.


Target was established in 1962 as the discount division of Dayton’s Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It became part of the Dayton-Hudson Corporation in the 1980s when the retailer expanded nationwide under the Target brand. Finding success by selling cheap-chic things, this corporation is now the eighth largest retailer in the U.S. The company website features a weekly ad for things customers can get at an even deeper discount. Target offers customers RedCard credit cards and gift cards. Target also has a registry service plus pickup, same-day delivery, and drive-up services.

World Market 

World Market, formerly Cost Plus World Market, is a specialty/import retail chain that sells furniture, home décor items, international food products, coffee, wine, craft beer, nifty kitchen gadgets, and apparel. The retailer no longer sells items for “cost plus 10%,” which was the meaning of the original name. Cost Plus World Market opened in 1958 in San Francisco, California. It became a subsidiary of Bed Bath & Beyond in 2012 and was sold in 2021.

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Denny’s, which is sometimes called Denny’s Diner on its signage, is a diner-style restaurant chain that began to franchise in 1963. Most of the stores are now franchise-owned. Today, Denny’s restaurants are located in the United States and its territories, the United Kingdom, and in 15 other countries. Stores are often located close to freeway exits, in-service areas, and bars. They stay open 24 hours per day and stay open on holidays. Denny’s is also known for serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner around the clock.

REI Co-op 

Before Recreational Equipment, Inc. was founded, U.S. outdoorsmen could only find overpriced, cheap imitations of Austrian axes. That all changed in 1938 when a couple got irritated enough at the situation to order quality axes directly from Austria. Fellow outdoor lovers pooled money with the couple to get the axes at a cheaper price. This led to the formation of an official, legal co-op. Today, the co-op sells car camping, backpacking, climbing, cycling, paddling, running, yoga, skiing, and snowboarding gear. They also sell outdoor apparel.


San Francisco line cook Steve Ellis opened the first Chipotle Mexican Grill store in Denver, Colorado, in 1993. The specialty was tacos and Mission burritos. Chipotle Mexican Grill was one of the first fast casual dining chains. Chipotle restaurants are now located in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The chain moved their headquarters from Denver, Colorado, to Newport Beach, California, in 2018. Chipotle Mexican Grill stock is traded under ticker symbol CMG on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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