Beef-a-Roo at 3401 S. Alpine Road on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Beef-a-Roo has been named one of the 40 hottest fast casual restaurant chains in the country by QSR Magazine, a national publication focused on the quick-service restaurant industry.

The magazine’s annual 40/40 List, which has been published since 2017, features 40 exciting fast-casual brands with fewer than 40 locations. Some of the other selections on QSR’s 40/40 list include Chicago-based Cilantro Taco Grill, Houston-based Saigon Hustle, and Portland-based Voodoo Doughnut.

Beef-a-Roo has spent most of its 50-year history huddled inside Rockford, Illinois, but is ready to expand with the help of Next Brands and Development, which acquired franchising rights in 2021,” QSR wrote in its selection of Beef-a-Roo. “Known for its slow-roasted beef sandwiches, burgers and famous cheddar fries, Beef-a-Roo has grown a cult-like following in Illinois and values its long-serving employees.”

Related: Beef-a-Roo expands around the country with shipping container restaurant concept

Next Brands plans to expand Beef-a-Roo from 18 locations — eight of which are in the Rockford area — to more than 50 over the next three to five years.

It’s planning on growing with both traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants and its 800-square-foot drive-thru only shipping container models.

“We are truly honored to be recognized by QSR Magazine and included in the prestigious 2024 40/40 List,” said Megan Rosen, chief development officer for Next Brands. “This acknowledgment validates our commitment to innovative growth strategies and the success of Beef-A-Roo. As we look ahead to 2024, we are enthusiastic about building on this momentum, expanding our footprint, and continuing to provide fresh, affordable meals to our loyal guests.”

Next Brands’ target markets for growth are in the Midwest and Southeast. The Redford, Michigan-based development business also franchises Blenderz, an acai bowl and smoothie bar designed with a retro vibe.

“At Next Brands, we are excited to propel BeefARoo‘s growth, and our inclusion in the QSR 40/40 List underscores the brand’s strength in the quick-service industry,” said Austin Capoferi, president of Next Brands. “We are actively seeking qualified franchisee partners to join us on this exciting journey.

“With a cost-effective franchise model, utilizing shipping containers for rapid deployment, and a commitment to quality, BeefARoo stands out as the best and most affordable franchise opportunity. We invite entrepreneurs to join us in bringing the BeefARoo experience to new markets and contribute to the brand’s continued success.”

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Beef-a-Roo was founded in Rockford in 1967 by Dave DeBruler and Jean Vitale. Their children took over the business in 2007 and operated it until 2019 when it was turned over to a private equity firm. Next Brands obtained the franchising rights two years later.

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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