Whether you love them or hate them, food chains are here to stay in Maine. Without question, Maine is home to some incredible mom and pop restaurants and food stores that deserve your attention. The thing about chains is consistency and understanding. You know what you're getting yourself into when you shop at a certain market and eat at a certain restaurant.

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There have actually been a handful of major food chains make their way into Maine in just the last few years. Chick-Fil-A and Jersey Mike's are two of the most notable success stories. There have also been failures along the way. Krispy Kreme likely serves as the most obvious example, with locations opening and then closing abruptly within about a year of opening. Not every food chain is going to work in Maine.

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So when a Reddit post by Kazbob48 asked, "What food chain would you like to see come to Maine?", the answers came flooding in. The post itself received nearly 700 comments with some surprising responses. In fact, many of the chains people would like to see are ones that Mainers have likely never heard of.

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There's also a reality element to all of this. Is a chain based in the midwest that has never opened a location outside of the midwest suddenly going to decide to expand to Maine? Probably not.

With that in mind, here were the 12 most common responses for food chains people would like to see in Maine that actually have a shot at someday calling Vacationland home.


 

Golden Corral

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Headquartered in North Carolina, Golden Corral is one of the most popular buffet chains in all of the country. Currently, they operate restaurants in 43 states. They've only just begun expansion into the northeast, recently opening their first location in New Hampshire. It seems natural that a future Maine location isn't too far off. The dream is still alive.


 

In-N-Out

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In-n-Out Burger is primarily found on the West Coast, but has begun expansion to the East Coast as they attempt to become one of the largest fast food chains in America. In-n-Out has grown in popularity thanks to avoiding freezing or microwaving any of their burgers or fries on the menu. It may be a while, but In-n-Out is bound to find their way to New England, and likely Maine.


 

El Pollo Loco

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Headquartered in California, El Pollo Loco is a restaurant that specializes in Mexican-inspired grilled chicken dishes. The popularity of the restaurant has exploded over the last decade or so, allowing the franchise to open more than 500 restaurants across the country. Unfortunately, most of them exist in the southwestern United States. An El Pollo Loco in Maine seems like a pipe dream.


 

The Cheesecake Factory

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Some things will never die, including the idea that The Cheesecake Factory will open in Maine. The chain currently operates more than 220 restaurants. The Cheesecake Factory has slowly been expanding on the East Coast for the last decade. The California chain has opened three locations in Massachusetts, and seems to continue their movement into Maine and New Hampshire at some point in the future.


 

Aldi

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One of the largest discount grocery store chains in the world still hasn't found their way to Maine, and that remains a bit surprising. Aldi operates more than 12,000 stores across the globe, and just wrapped up an acquisition expansion in the U.S. of more than 400 stores. It's entirely possible Maine will see its first Aldi sooner rather than later. But where?


 

P.F. Chang

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Panda Express has become wildly popular in Maine, and it wouldn't be surprising to see P.F. Chang's welcomed with the same amount of gusto. P.F. Chang's is one of the newest and fastest-growing restaurant chains in America, and despite being Arizona-based, has recently opened three new locations in Massachusetts. It's only a matter of time before there's a Maine restaurant.


 

CiCi's Pizza

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Based out of Texas, Cici's Pizza has grown to include 300 locations in 25 states. The pizza buffet concept has become a huge hit in the south, and Cici's has continued to slowly expand into new regions over the last decade. Will that include New England? We love pizza up here, and would probably welcome a pizza buffet with open arms.


 

Waffle House

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While Goonies never say die, the dream of Maine having a Waffle House probably should. Operating more than 2,100 locations across 25 states, Waffle House has become the predominant 'diner' in the country. Almost all restaurants are open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, with a small but fast menu to move customers in and out. Waffle House has begun their expansion into the northeast, but it has been slow.


 

A&W

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For most in the northeast, A&W is simply a root beer brand and not a full-blown fast food chain. There are more than 1,000 A&W locations worldwide, and 600 in the United States alone. Northeast expansion has never been a priority, with only one A&W location in Connecticut and Rhode Island.


 

Sonic

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Despite being heavily advertised on television for years now, Maine doesn't have a Sonic location, and one doesn't seem to be on the horizon. Maine is one of only four states in the country that doesn't have a Sonic location. Fans of drive-in hot dogs, slushies, and burgers will have to venture south on Route 1 to get their fix.


 

Culver's

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Known for their milkshakes and signature 'butter burgers', Culver's has been a fast-growing chain for years now. Mostly located throughout the midwestern United States, Culver's has begun capitalizing on their success with expansion. But making it all the way to Maine is likely to take some time. Don't expect to see Culver's in Vacationland any time soon.


 

H Mart

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A second grocery store chain makes the list with H Mart. The Asian grocery store has a name that loosely is translated to "an armful of groceries". The popularity of the store has really jumped in the last 15 years, as more people are cooking from home and looking for a variety of Asian-style products. H Mart has added 10 new stores in the northeast over the past few years. Is Maine next?


 

30 Maine Restaurants to try in 2024

Thanks to our great listeners we were able to compile a list of many of Maine's great restaurants that Mainers want to try in 2024.

These great spots can be found across the state and waiting for you to give them a try.

How many have you been to? How many would you like to try for the first time?

Gallery Credit: Chris Sedenka

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