Chains are finding attractive opportunities in small town America.

Bennigan's among chains trimming franchise fees. 

Amsterdam Falafelshop, a fast-casual concept founded eight years ago in Washington, D.C., has begun to grow through franchising. As of mid-March, the company operated its original D.C. unit as well as its first sister shop, the chain's preferred term for franchised units, in the Boston suburb of Summerville, Mass. The chain had inked agreements for nine additional sister shops to open in markets including Boston, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The fast-casual pizza segment continues to sizzle, tossing a whole new competitive element into the mix for both traditional pizzerias and other fast-casual concepts. Here’s a look at recent development moves made by three up-and-comers.

The Culver's restaurant in West Baraboo, Wis., the chain's first green building effort, has been Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Kay Ainsley, managing director at franchise consultancy MSA Worldwide, offers suggestions for getting the biggest bang for your discovery day buck:

Meatheads, a "better burger" chain founded in 2007, celebrated the opening of its 11th Chicagoland unit in March in suburban Elmhurst.

Lynette McKee, CFE, CEO and managing partner, McKee Co. Services

Love them or hate them, discovery days are a fact of life for most franchise companies. While they're just one of many steps involved in finding the right franchisee partners with which to grow a brand, they're also among the most important because of the opportunity they present for senior-level staff to personally engage with potential franchisees.