5 Awesome Food Chains That Got Their Start In New England

One of the major adjustments you have to make when you leave New England is letting go of some of your favorite local restaurants and hangouts. Even though I left Massachusetts 18 years ago, Papa Gino’s is still my favorite pizza place and I make sure to stop there every time I visit.

Papa Gino’s may never have made it beyond the borders of New England, but the 5 fabulous food joints listed below all became major players in the restaurant world after small starts in our 6 great states.


The very first Subway sandwich shop opened its doors in Bridgeport, CT in August of 1965. Despite the recent legal drama surrounding their former spokesman, Jared Fogle, Subway is by far the most successful chain to come out of New England. They currently have an astonishing 44,848 locations in 112 countries. Not too shabby for a simple sub shop from Connecticut!


Another one of my favorites, Friendly’s opened its first ice cream stand in Springfield, MA way back in 1935. There were no SuperMelts or Fishamajigs back then, just frozen treats. Despite some difficult financial challenges over the years, including a 2012 bankruptcy, Friendly’s remains an American legacy with more than 400 locations.


This brick oven pizza chain is relatively new in the restaurant business. The first store opened in the Davis Square section of Somerville, MA in 1981. The handmade pizza and pasta creations prepared before the customers’ eyes quickly became a hit and spread like wildfire across the East coast. Today there are 86 locations in 11 states, stretching all the way down to Virginia.

Legal Sea Foods

This upscale chain began with humble roots as a Cambridge, MA fish market in 1950. When owner, George Berkowitz opened the first restaurant 18 years later it quickly gained a reputation for its excellent service and fresh seafood. Today you can find this Boston-based franchise in 11 different US states along the East coast.


A major point of pride for any New Englander is the fact that we gave the world the majestic coffee wonderland that is Dunkin Donuts! The first store opened in Quincy, MA back in 1950 and now it’s hard to imagine life in New England without a Dunks on every corner.

But believe it or not, some states are still living without its liquid-magic. As of this post, 41 states have at least a few stores, although not nearly as many as New England. My state of South Carolina only has 15 Dunkin’ Donuts locations – in the entire state! However, this little coffee shop from Quincy has done pretty well for itself with 11,300 stores worldwide in 36 countries.

Featured Image via Facebook/New England Patriots


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