Sales at fast-casual restaurants increased 9 percent in 2017, per a report from Chicago-based Technomic. Unit growth among fast-casual restaurants declined to 6.1 percent in 2017, down 3.7 percent from 2015, per Technomic’s Top 250 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report. This marks the third consecutive year unit growth among the top 250 fast-casual chains has declined.

In response to strong domestic headwinds, Technomic anticipates many fast-casual concepts will turn to international markets to grow their businesses. Chains looking for more exponential growth will look to unpenetrated global markets, including Australia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Chicken was the hot protein of 2017 and fast casuals capitalized on its popularity, Technomic added. Fast-casual chains with triple-digit unit growth included CoreLife Eatery and Wahlburgers.