47 Scaling Restaurants In Scandinavia To Keep An Eye On (Because They Are Awesome)

The hottest restaurant scene in Europe right now? Scandinavia. 

Yes, you heard right. 

You may not have noticed, but some brilliant restaurant chains and franchises are shaking up the dining culture of the Nordic countries, both with new concepts and by revamping old ones. 

The level of quality, service and innovation is high. These restaurants are scaling fast, and quite often venture far beyond their country of origin.  

In this list we have included food service operations in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland that caught our attention because of their attitude, approach, and business savvy-ness. 

We’ve split the list by country to make it easier to navigate but otherwise the restaurant brands are listed in random order.

Scaling restaurant operations in: 

Restaurants in Denmark

OLIOLI Poke

Oli Oli Poke

11 Outlets

Poké Bowls

Fast Casual Restaurant

Denmark

Take a Hawaiian dish like poké, give it to two Scandinavian guys with Asian roots, add the audacity of the young and a love for food, and what you get is OLIOLI. This new chain (established in 2017) serves the traditional raw fish version but also other variations inspired by Asian taste and Scandinavian food culture. For the founders, poké is not just a dish, but a way to create joy between food and people.

Quote - OLIOLI
Mads Bentzen’s LinkedIn Profile

Jensens Bøfhus

Jensens Bøfhus

21 Outlets

Steak House

Casual Restaurant

Denmark, Sweden, and Norway

For more than 30 years, Jensens Bøfhus has welcomed anyone who wants to enjoy a good meal served with a smile in a relaxed atmosphere. And anyone really means anyone: children and adults, grandparents, business colleagues and couples. Children are especially welcome, with kids menus and games to entertain them. The infinite choice of steaks, hamburgers, and ribs is accompanied by cocktails and unlimited fries. The most important item in their menu, however, is “the good company that creates great memories.”

Pico Pizza

Pico Pizza

3 plus one more coming soon.

Pizza

Fast Casual Restaurant

Denmark

Copenhagen is a lively place with many good eateries, but Pico Pizza has managed to stand out. With the traditional elements of pizza, they create a new experience. An experience that combines the high quality of fine-dining with the cosy atmosphere of sharing dishes with friends. The operational side and menu are also well thought out, making the concept easily scalable. Pico Pizza creates its own niche with plenty of room to grow. 

Quote - Pico Pizza
Rasmus Christensen’s LinkedIn Profile

Zócalo 

Zócalo 

26 Outlets

Mexican Food

QSR

Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and UK

The food is inspired by the taquerias in San Francisco’s Mission District. They call the food Fresh Happy Mex – it is Zócalo’s version of Mexican food made from scratch with high quality ingredients. And their fresh take on traditional Mexican food has been gathering a following since 2002. The brand has 26 outlets in three countries under its belt already and hopefully many more to come. 

Quote - Zocalo
Einar Örn Einarsson’s LinkedIn Profile

Jagger

Jagger

13 Outlets

Burgers

Fast Casual Restaurant

Denmark

The group behind Jagger is made up of former Michelin chef Rasmus Oubæk and other three self-professed food geeks, who wanted to take the classic burger chain concept to new heights. At Jagger, they use organic beef from free-range cows, then mince the meat their own way to get the perfect texture and serve their burgers in brioche buns made in-house. The chain opened in 2016 and now operates 13 outlets around Copenhagen.

Quote - Jagger
Christian Brandt’s LinkedIn Profile

Emmerys

Emmerys

31 Outlets

Coffee and Bakery

Coffee Shop

Denmark

Emmerys is not your usual bakery, but a place with a strong focus on the taste experience. Everything is 100% organic: handmade sourdough bread, cakes and pastries, award-winning croissants, and of course organic coffee. The chain operates 31 stores around Copenhagen and Aarhus. Ingredients and nutritional values of all their breads are available on their website.

Halifax

Halifax

11 Outlets

Burgers

Casual Restaurant

Denmark

Halifax Burgers takes its name from the city in Canada where the two founders, Ulrich and Peter, met as students. When they opened their first outlet in 2017, they knew that Halifax’s concept didn’t have to be just about serving delicious burgers in an informal environment, but also about taking care of their employees with summer parties and fun team building events. The two friends keep expanding their burger chain concept with “no frills, but plenty of ambition.”

Gorm’s

Gorm’s

14 Outlets

Italian cuisine with a Nordic touch

Full Service and Quick Service

Denmark

If you’re curious about what a combination of Italian and Nordic cuisine tastes like, then Gorms is your natural destination. Founded in 2008 and now operating 14 outlets in Denmark, Gorms is a purveyor of unpretentious gastronomy cooked with great quality ingredients served in a warm atmosphere. Pizza is Gorms’ playground, from where the curiosity of its six founders can explore new ingredients, food trends and mindsets.

Gasoline Grill

Gasoline Grill

8 Outlets

Burgers

Quick Service Restaurant

Denmark

No fluff, just a classic American burger joint. One peculiarity shows the commitment of Gasoline Grill to quality over quantity: each of the eight locations around Copenhagen has an opening hour but no closing hour. This is because only a limited number of burgers are prepared each day, so when they’re gone they’re gone. The name Gasoline Grill comes from its first location, which opened in 2016 at an old gas station in central Copenhagen.

LETZ SUSHI

LETZ SUSHI

17 Outlets

Sushi

Full Service Restaurant

Denmark

LETZ SUSHI is a sushi restaurant chain that is firmly rooted in tradition, with classics like maki and nigiri rolls, but is not afraid to experiment with new flavors. LETZ SUSHI makes sure that every aspect of its operation is as sustainable as possible. They only use certified sustainable fish and organic rice, FSC-certified paper packaging and chopsticks, trays made with 80% recycled plastics, and electricity from CO2-neutral sources. 

MASH

MASH

10 Outlets

Steak House

Casual Restaurant

Denmark and Germany

MASH took the modern American steak house concept and made it better, by perfecting every aspect of the dining experience, from the moment guests book a table to when they leave. Each of the ten restaurants that MASH operates (in Denmark and in Germany) has its own personality, like the vibrant atmosphere and high ceilings of the one in Bredgade street, or the New York vibe of MASH Penthouse, both in Copenhagen.

Lagkagehuset

Lagkagehuset

119 Outlets

Bread

Bakery

Denmark, UK and USA

During the 30 years between the first Lagkagehuset bakery in the center of Copenhagen in 1991 and the first one in Union Square in Manhattan in 2019, the brand’s mission has been to bake bread with simple ingredients and lots of flavor and texture. Just like a good sommelier will recommend the right wine, at Lagkagehuset they have the right bread for each occasion, whether it’s a cheese platter, breakfast, tapas or soup.

Stick’n’Sushi

Stick'n'Sushi

23 Outlets

Sushi with a twist

Full Service Restaurant

Denmark, UK and Germany

Sticks’n’Sushi has something for everyone: traditional sushi for those who love it, and yakitori sticks — grilled meat or vegetable skewers — for the not-so-fish-lovers. This daring attitude came from the three founders, who have both a Danish and Japanese background. (As is often the case in this list, two of them are brothers.) Sticks’n’Sushi know that they’ll never win a Traditional Japanese Cuisine Award, but are also confident that their food is delicious enough to grant them forgiveness. 

Restaurants in Sweden

Oh Poké

Oh Poké

32 

Poké

Fast Casual Restaurant

Sweden

Hawaiian street food is super popular, but Oh Poké is raising the bar. The brand is rapidly conquering urban areas and gathering a loyal local following along the way. Its ambition is to become the benchmark for poké (and they are well on their way), but that ambition has not made Oh Poké reckless. The restaurant chain is taking responsibility for the planet. For instance, by 2030, 50% of bowls sold must contain plant-based proteins. 

Quote - Oh Poké
Sihaam Masae’s LinkedIn Profile

Basta 

Basta

6 Outlets

Italian Food

Casual dining

Sweden

A name like Basta can mean only one thing: lovely Italian cuisine. But Basta is different from most Mediterranean restaurants. The team isn’t afraid to experiment and cross the boundaries of what is considered traditional Italian, and yet they never lose sight of what makes ‘food from the boot’ so delicious. Basta isn’t just great food — it’s a vibe, and that vibe is catching on. Currently, the team runs five restaurants, but we have the feeling there will be many more. Basta is building a restaurant brand. It’s recognisable, vibrant and has the potential to grow big. 

Quote - Basta
Brazer Bozlak’s LinkedIn Profile

Hawaii Poké 

Hawaii Poké 

19 Outlets

Poké

Fast Casual Restaurant

Sweden

‘Chef-driven bowls in an upbeat, pacific inspired atmosphere’, what is not to love about Hawaii Poké? You are what you eat, as the saying goes, for this popular poké brand that means fresh, healthy & tasty. What makes the brand stand out is that it adds a touch of Scandinavia to the Hawaiian flavours. With already 19 locations fully operational, it is safe to say that the formula is working.

Naked Juicebar

Naked Juicebar

26 Outlets

Juices and Smoothies

Grab and Go

Sweden

If you’re looking for healthy sunny vibes Naked Juicebar is where you should go. Founders Steve and Maria claim to sell sunshine and the lovely juices and smoothies from their grab-and-go shops certainly feel that way. The first shop opened in 2007 and it started a juice revolution that is still going strong. Today Naked Juicebar has 25 bars around the country, and with the help of passionate customers, proud franchisees and lively staff, Naked Juicebar continues to develop, expand and surprise.

Bastard Burgers

Bastard Burgers

68 plus 4 more to open soon.

Burgers

Casual Restaurant

Sweden, Norway, US (New York) and soon Finland

Burgers inspired by New York street food made with Scandinavian meat. Their menu includes a vast selection of vegan options and unique signature creations. Bastard Burgers oozes personality like grilled cheddar from a cheeseburger. For this chain, Like a Bastard is not just a branding slogan, but a way of life: it means doing things their own way, while treating everyone with love and respect.

Sushi Yama

Sushi Yama

64 Outlets

Sushi

Fast Casual Restaurant

Sweden

Since 2008, Sushi Yama has been all about sushi. Sweden’s largest chain of sushi restaurants has a very simple mission: to bring its nigiri, gunkan, and maki to as many people as possible, either through one of its 60+ outlets or online ordering, only working with the highest quality ingredients.

MAX Burgers 

MAX Burgers 

+170 Outlets Worldwide

Burgers

Quick Service Restaurant

Norway, Denmark and UAE, and soon expanding to Germany, Austria, Netherlands, and Poland

When the first McDonald’s opened in Sweden in 1973, MAX Burgers had already been serving its burgers for five years. After more than half a century, it’s still family-owned, proud to be grounded in tradition while seeking innovation and paying attention to current trends. After opening 100 outlets in Sweden, MAX Burgers is planning to expand abroad through its well-established franchise model.

ChopChop Asian Express

ChopChop Asian Express

36 Outlets

Asian Food

Quick Service Restaurant

Sweden

Chop Chop is where the oldest cuisine in the world meets fast service. This fast food and drive-through restaurant cooks food from all parts of Asia with high-quality ingredients served in a friendly atmosphere. They don’t like to be called a ‘fast food’ chain, though. They prefer ‘smart’ or even ‘thoughtful’, which means that between doing it well and doing it faster, they will always choose the former. 

Brödernas

Brödernas

90 Outlets

Burgers

Casual Restaurant

Sweden (for now)

Brödernas was founded by two burger-loving brothers, Jonas and Joakim (hence the name: Brothers) and started to expand at a hectic pace. Their vision is to become synonymous with good burgers. Don’t call them a fast food brand, though: they aim to be a restaurant specialized in burgers, where you get the full indoor dining experience. At the end of 2021, the brand had reached 70 units in Sweden. But their home country is definitely too small for them and they make no secret of wanting to expand abroad. 

Quote - Brödernas
Henrik Mattsson’s LinkedIn Profile

Mocca Deli

Mocca Deli

9 plus 14 to open soon

Mediterranean Food

Casual Restaurant

Sweden

The name Mocca Deli says it all: a place to taste the best coffee in Sweden accompanied with salads, wraps, flatbread pizzas, pasta, and – why not – a glass of red as the end of the day gets nearer. The idea for Mocca Deli’s concept came from brothers Tony, Salle and Alen Mansour, who wanted to create a warm and familiar cafe that would suit all types of people and budgets. Since the opening of the first Mocca Deli in Eskilstuna in 2015, its success went beyond their expectations, and now the three brothers are ready to expand outside Sweden with a master franchise for Europe. 

Quote - Mocca Deli
Alen Mansour’s LinkedIn Profile

Waynes Coffee

Waynes Coffee

150 Outlets

Coffee and Bakery

Coffee Shop

Sweden, Norway, Germany, Cyprus, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam

In the mid 90s, four friends realized that Sweden had a widespread coffee culture, called ‘Fika’ – the practice of taking a break with a coffee and a pastry – but lacked a coffee shop scene like the one that was growing in the United States. Their country was ready for something more than filter coffee and princess cakes, so they went on to create a concept where people could taste organic coffees, freshly baked American-inspired cakes and pastries, and well-prepared food in a homely environment. The first Waynes Coffee shop opened in Stockholm in 1994 and was an instant success.

Sibylla

Sibylla

170 Outlets

Sausages and Burgers

Quick Service Restaurant

Sweden

During its 90 years of existence, Sibylla took the boiled sausage with bread, a seemingly simple Swedish classic, and brought it to perfection, also completing the menu with other sausages, hamburgers, meatballs, chicken kebabs and much more. With 170 outlets in 121 locations across Sweden, for the brand owner Nordic Fast Food, Sibylla is not just a thriving foodservice franchise, but also a tradition to carry on with responsibility. 

Espresso House

Espresso House

400+ Outlets

Coffee and Bakery

Coffee Shop

Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Germany

Espresso House started out in 1996 as a small coffee shop in Lund, in the south of Sweden. Similarly to Waynes, the concept took inspiration from the Italian coffee culture and the American coffee shop scene. In 2018 the chain opened its first outlet abroad, in Germany and it’s now present in five countries with over 460 coffee shops. Espresso House prides itself on the skills of their staff. Everyone who works at Espresso House must undergo training to become a barista, regardless of their position. 

Pincho Nation

Pincho Nation

73 Outlets

International Food

Casual Restaurant

Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway

This fast-growing casual dining franchise has a truly unique concept. On one hand, there is the extravagant circus-inspired restaurant décor and on the other, the dining experience where flavours from around the world are offered in tapas format. It is a concept that guests have fallen truly in love with. Pincho Nation had a digital approach before anyone else did. It was the first app-based restaurant worldwide, and has a digital infrastructure designed to complement the staff and enhance the dining experience.

Quote - Pincho Nation
Viveca Järhult’s LinkedIn Profile

Restaurants in Norway

Egon

Egon

10 Outlets

Casual Dining

Casual Restaurant

Norway

Sandwiches, pizza, tacos and quesadillas: Egon‘s menu might be unpretentious, but its way of doing business is driven by the highest standards. A staple of Egon’s philosophy is honesty in every context: with customers, but also employees, suppliers, partners, and authorities. In spite of the many requests they receive from potential franchisees, the chain chooses to grow at a slower pace, while remaining true to its principles. 

Big Bite 

Big Bite 

70 Outlets

Subs, Wraps and Salads

Quick Service Restaurant

Norway

Since 1997, Big Bite has fed fast and affordable food to people on the go. The star of their menu is the classic submarine sandwich, which you can personalize exactly as you want. In addition, they have several varieties of wraps and salads. The chain has grown its number of outlets by 40% in the last six years and now operates more than 70 outlets across Norway. 

Big Horn Steakhouse

Big Horn Steakhouse

11 Outlets

Steak House

Casual Restaurant

Norway

The name gives it away: Big Horn is a traditional American steakhouse. Steaks grilled to perfection accompanied by dips, salads, and potatoes. And also: burgers (including the plant-based Beyond Burger), finger food, desserts, and a children’s menu. Since 1985, Big Horn has been providing the real steakhouse experience in a cozy atmosphere.

Pizza Bakeren

Pizza Bakeren

200+ Outlets

Pizza

Quick Service Restaurant

Norway

With a progression that went from one outlet in 2003 to more than 200 today, Pizza Bakeren can rightly claim to be one of the fastest growing pizza chains in Norway. Except for a couple of Italian classics, this pizza concept uses its base topped with cheese and tomato sauce as a platform for some serious taste trips and is not afraid to mix minced meat, pepperoni, onion, and pineapple.

Sushi NamNam

Sushi NamNam

8 Outlets

Sushi

Casual Restaurant

Norway

Sushi NamNam hasn’t been around for many years and has a relatively small number of outlets. Don’t be fooled though: we’ll definitely be hearing more about them in the future. The chain has a wide selection of maki and nigiri, plus all the combos one can possibly imagine. The focus is on the quality of the ingredients, the skills of its chefs, and a friendly and professional service.

Dolly Dimples

Dolly Dimples

10 Outlets

American-style Pizza

Casual Restaurant

Norway

Dolly Dimples serves excellent American-style pizzas with a great variety of generous toppings, in a nice atmosphere and with friendly staff. The chain was founded in 1986 by Andreas Hatjoullis, a Norwegian foodservice legend of Greek-Cypriot descent, and then acquired by Domino’s Pizza in 2017. Recently, the Dolly Dimple’s brand was bought by a new investor, and new restaurants are planned to open in the near future.

Jordbærpikene

Jordbærpikene

43 Outlets

Coffee and Bakery

Coffee Shop

Norway

Jordbærpikene (The Strawberry Girls) is an eatery founded by pastry chef, TV chef, and food writer, Lars Lian in 2003 with the idea of a pleasant unfussy place for food and conversation. 19 years and 42 more outlets later, the spirit of Jordbærpikene has remained the same. The menu includes different homemade cakes and pastries, salads, sandwiches, and carefully selected espressos.

Sabrura Sticks & Sushi

Sabrura Sticks & Sushi

25 Outlets

Asian Food

Fast Casual Restaurant

Norway

Sabrura is an AYCE buffet of sushi made with first-class ingredients, at a popular price. Its mission is not just to serve delicious high-quality sushi, but to make it a Norwegian everyday food. That’s why they added a Norwegian twist to Asian classics, and also skewers, dumplings, spring rolls and other Asian flavors to the menu. Interesting note: children under 6 eat free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Kaffebrenneriet

Kaffebrenneriet

44 Outlets

Coffee and Bakery

Coffee Shop

Norway

Kaffebrenneriet was founded in 1994 by Thomas Pulpan, a thirty-something San Francisco native, who moved to Oslo and noticed that the coffee shop culture was completely missing there. For his first coffee shop, Thomas renovated an old perfume store by himself and with almost zero budget. Today, Kaffebrenneriet serves 20 different types of coffee as well as sandwiches and pastries from its own bakery, and also provides consulting services about the coffee market.  

Peppes Pizza

Peppes Pizza

70 Outlets

American Pizza

Casual Restaurant

Norway

The history of Peppes Pizza began in the 1960s, when an American-Norwegian couple decided to move from the US to Norway to do something that no one had ever tried before: to open an American-style pizza restaurant. Fast forward 50 years and Peppes Pizza is not only the oldest, but also the largest American pizza chain in Norway. The company has been listed on the stock exchange since the 1990s, and the brand has changed owners several times, but the American roots are still intact. 

Restaurants in Finland

Arnolds

Arnolds

30 Outlets + 70 Shop-in-Shops

Coffee and Bakery

Coffee Shop

Finland and Japan

If you want to know what a successful food concept looks like, check out Arnolds. The first shop opened in 1991. The well-loved brand celebrated its 30th anniversary! Since its start, Arnolds has expanded the number of coffee shops around the country, and also its menu of bagels, salads, smoothies, cookies, and the unmissable doughnut. If one word defines this franchise operation, it is quality. Arnold’s is not only a place for serious coffee-lovers, but also for franchisees who want to make their coffee shop dream come true. The chain has won the Finnish Franchising Chain of the Year Award in 1999 and 2011 and makes no secret of wanting to expand outside of Finland. 

Quote - Arnolds
Jussi Laurila’s LinkedIn Profile

Hesburger

Hesburger

469 Outlets

Fast Food

Quick Service Restaurant

Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Germany

The growth of Hesburger followed a somewhat explosive trajectory. From its humble origins in 1966 as a street food kiosk, 14 years had to pass before the first outlet opened in 1980. From there, the chain grew to 12 in twelve years, and then to 200 in just ten years. Today Hesburger is a giant that operates in seven countries and employs thousands of people. Its brand is exactly what you would expect from a 21st century fast food chain: a vast choice of fast food options coupled with a strong focus on carbon footprint reduction and social responsibility.

Rax

Rax

30 Outlets and 1 Food Truck

American-style Pizza

Fast Casual Restaurant

Finland

Rax is an honest-to-goodness pizza buffet chain that also offers fresh salads and various options of warm dishes. It was founded by the late Finnish entrepreneur Rabbe Anders Grönblom in 1994, and is now owned by Restel, one of the main Finnish hospitality groups. Pizzas are strictly American-style, with classic toppings such as pepperoni, pineapple, and BBQ sauce, and more daring ones such as nachos and wasabi mayo. 

Friends & Brgrs

Friends & Brgrs

21 Outlets

Burgers

Casual Restaurant

Finland

Friends and burgers are two of the best things in life, so it’s only natural that a group of six friends who loved hamburgers decided to open a restaurant to bring together more of those. Friends & Brgrs’ are real burger freaks who bake their buns, peel their fresh potatoes, and of course mince their meat. Indeed, they’re not afraid of geeking out on the whole meat grinding step: as they explain on their website, they mince their beef at 5 mm, which is coarser than the 3-mm one you would buy at the store.

FaFa’s

FaFa’s

34 Outlets + cloud kitchen

Vegetarian Food

Fast Casual Restaurant

Finland, London

We had to get almost to the end of this list to find a vegetarian restaurant, but it was worth the wait: Fafa’s is not only the fastest growing meat-free restaurant chain in Finland – the cornerstone of its menu being stuffed pita breads and fresh salads – but also the first one to offset all its carbon dioxide emissions, both direct and indirect. The company is looking for new franchisees for Finland and master franchisors for other countries. 

Naughty BRGR

Naughty BRGR

10 Outlets