Each year, a trade publication most people do not read puts out a fascinating list most people are not talking about—unless, of course, they happen to be in the restaurant business, in which case they will likely be looking for this list, published by Restaurant Business Magazine, which compiles a list of the year’s most impressive restaurants. Not by critical popularity, or pedigree, or any of that nebulous stuff—this time, it’s all about profitability, which is not something you necessarily take for granted, in the restaurant business. The Top 100 Independents list throws a spotlight on a diverse group of non-chains across America, united by their unique talent for bringing in stunning amounts of money.
As you might imagine, many of these restaurants are in places where people tend to get loose with the purse strings—here is Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach (#2), there is everything the Tao Group ever opened (well, pretty much), not to mention pretty much any steakhouse in Las Vegas. Two entries on the list stand out, due to their otherness—both are in the same town, Frankenmuth, Michigan, a place you will likely have never heard of, unless you grew up or now live in a very specific subregion of the Midwest. Not only are both restaurants in the same town, they are directly across the street from one another, and both have rocketed into the restaurant profitability hall of fame selling the exact same thing—honest, old-timey chicken dinners.
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