The 14 Best Food Franchise Opportunities - NerdWallet (2023)

If you dream of opening a restaurant, you may have come across franchising during your research. While the risk of opening a restaurant isn't quite as bad as you might think,buy a franchisemitigates much of this risk. By entering the franchise's established framework, you will benefit from the company's prominence, business model, training, management support, extensive network of vendors and positive company reputation. In turn, you'll be responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of your site — in other words, the nuts and bolts of running a business that motivated entrepreneurs hunger for.

There are hundreds of food franchise opportunities up for grabs, so in this article we're highlighting just 14 of the most promising options to explore this year. These food franchises range from full-service restaurants to specialty stores to take-out facilities. What they all have in common, however, is incredible (and in some cases legendary) brand strength, a proven support system for their franchisees, and a long history of successful franchising. Some of these franchises offer financial incentives to certain qualifying members, such asVeteransor individuals who own multiple franchise locations.

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The 14 Best Food Franchise Opportunities - NerdWallet (1)

14 Food Franchise Opportunities

In no particular order, the following 14 companies are some of the most promising food franchises to join this year. We'll tell you a little bit about each company, as well as the startup costs required to own a piece of each of these hugely popular companies.

Keep in mind that franchisees are responsible for additional franchise fees on top of the initial franchise costs. A full breakdown of franchise fees can be found directly on the franchisor's website.

1. Baskin-Robbins

  • Initial Franchise Fee:25.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:94.350 $ bis 402.200 $.

Since its beginnings in 1945, Baskin-Robbins has grown into one of the most well-known ice cream parlors in the world thanks to its revolutionary "31 flavors" ethos, which reportedly allows devotees to try a new flavor every day of the month. Now the franchise has nearly 2,500 locations domestically and over 7,500 storefronts worldwide.

If you are interested in buying oneBaskin-Robbins-Franchise, you must meet their minimum requirements. Financial requirements vary by location and the type of Baskin-Robbins store you are interested in (either a traditional storefront or a non-traditional location, like a kiosk). But at least $100,000 in cash and $200,000 net worth per unit. When you apply, Baskin-Robbins will also review your resume to ensure you have sufficient relevant experience. If you meet their requirements, they will send you a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) for your consideration.

2. Tantchen Annes

  • Initial Franchise Fee:30.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:199.475 $ bis 385.100 $.

The best thing about walking to an airport is the smell of freshly baked pretzels - courtesy of Auntie Anne's kiosk, which you head to as soon as you get through security. And thanks to their popularity — both in the United States and in the 25+ countries where the pretzel chain is based — Aunt Anne's franchise locations had an average net sales of $538,175 in 2018.

Prior business experience is required to join Tante Anne's network and experience in the restaurant industry is preferred. Tante Anne's also favors people with proven customer service skills and who align with the company's philanthropic values. Numerically, the ideal candidate will have $100,000 in liquidation and a net worth of $300,000. To learn more, you can request more information about owning a franchise from Aunt Anne via text message, email, or phone.

3. Papa Johns

  • Initial Franchise Fee:5.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:300.000 $.

To attract more franchisees, award-winning pizza chain Papa John's offers new store owners several financial incentives, including new ovens for each store, reduced license fees for the first six years of operation, a $3,000 grocery loan (if applicable), a $5,000 marketing budget, and - last but not least - a completely waived franchise fee. These incredibly generous incentives help make Papa John's one of the most cost-effective franchises on this list.

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However, applicants for opening a pizzeria are bound by certain financial requirements. Papa John franchisees must have a minimum of $75,000 in cash or cash equivalents, a net worth of $250,000 and the ability to secure up to $275,000 in debt financing. Papa John's also expects its franchisees to have prior management experience, preferably in hospitality or retail.

4. Taco Bell

  • Initial Franchise Fee:25.000 bis 45.000 US-Dollar.

  • Estimated total initial investment:$525,525 to $2.8 million.

founded in 1954,Taco Bellis one of the oldest and most popular Mexican-inspired fast food restaurants in the world - and with over 7,000 restaurants across the country, chances are you can pursue a franchise opportunity with the chain in your area.

Unfortunately, Taco Bell doesn't provide as much information about owning a location as many other companies. However, you can easily request more information by completing an application online. You must include how much cash you have, whether you have previous business and quick service experience, and whether you currently own a multi-unit franchise, which means Taco Bell evaluates these metrics to determine franchisee eligibility.

5. KFC

  • Initial Franchise Fee:45.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:$1.4 million to $2.7 million.

It's safe to say that Colonel Sanders is one of the most recognizable icons of American fast food culture - which bears out when you consider that an estimated 185 million Americans watch a KFC commercial once a week. Clearly, buying a KFC franchise means you are backed by an incredibly strong business model and a well-established support system.

It also makes sense that KFC would consider multiple variables — both quantitative and qualitative — when assessing the suitability of a potential franchisee. The six key factors that KFC evaluates in its franchise applicants include, but are not limited to, "Multi-unit operating experience, Financial qualifications, Personal and financial reputation, Motivation and commitment, Culture and brand fit, and Growth mentality." KFC is also among the more stringent financial qualifications: Applicants need a minimum net worth of $1.5 million and $750,000 in liquid assets, although these requirements will vary (i.e. will be higher) based on your level of ownership.

6. McDonalds

  • Initial Franchise Fee:45.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:$1 million to $2.2 million.

We don't need to tell you that McDonald's is the most popular fast food restaurant in the world - so if you're interested in buying a fast food franchise, it makes sense to set your eyes here. About 90% of McDonald's in the US is owned and operated by franchisees; and according to the company, McDonald's has the largest number of women and minority franchise owners in the fast food industry.

For your application to be considered, you must have available, liquid funds of at least $500,000. And if your application is approved, you'll have to undergo pretty intense training before you can complete your purchase. The training usually takes place part-time over a period of 12 to 18 months.

7. Dunkin’

  • Initial Franchise Fee:$40,000 to $90,000 (fee varies by state).

  • Estimated total initial investment:$95,700 to $1.5 million.

You'll hardly find a town in the Northeast that doesn't have at least one Dunkin'. There, Dunkies is more than a place to get coffee and a cruller; it's basically a religion. However, Dunkin' operates over 12,400 locations in 41 states and 46 countries, so you certainly don't have to live on the East Coast to find a Dunkin' franchise opportunity.

The initial investment required to purchase aDunkin’ Franchisecan get pretty steep. Like most franchisors, Dunkin' does not offer direct financial support, but they can ease the financial burden of providing development incentives to certain franchisees, such as B. Reduce those who plan to open several restaurants. They also offer a 20% discount on the initial franchise fee for veterans who purchase a business development agreement for up to five stores.

8. Pizza Hut

  • Initial Franchise Fee:25.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:$357,000 to $2.2 million.

With 18,431 units, Pizza Hut is the largest pizza company in the world. (Another fun fact? The very first product ever ordered online was a Pizza Hut pizza.) Prospective Pizza Hut franchisees must have a minimum net worth of $700,000, $350,000 in cash and cash equivalents, and a strong credit report. Applicants must also provide Pizza Hut with a financial plan detailing how they will develop their location.

If you are approved, Pizza Hut will provide full training and marketing support, as well as assistance in opening your location. They don't provide financing, but Pizza Hut is listed on the SBA register, which means Pizza Hut franchisees can receive accelerated financing through the SBA if their loan application is approved.

9. Dennys

  • Initial Franchise Fee:30.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:$1.3 million to $2.4 million.

Nicknamed "America's Diner," Denny's is one of the most popular fast-casual restaurants in the country. They also have amazing opportunities for franchise owners — in fact, one of their most successful owners, Dawn Lafreeda, started out as a waitress at the restaurant.

If you're inspired to become a Denny's success story yourself, you first need to have $500,000 in cash and $1 million in net worth -- a pretty tough threshold. However, Denny's does offer incentive programs for certain franchisees. For example, franchisees who open six restaurants in new and emerging markets can save up to over $1 million in reduced rates and fees.

10. Ben & Jerry's

  • Initial Franchise Fee:18.500 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:200.300 $ bis 504.300 $.

Aside from being the mastermind behind popular ice cream flavors like Cherry Garcia and Phish Food, Ben & Jerry's is one of the most philanthropic franchises in the country. Her Ben & Jerry's Foundation, for example, is an employee-run organization dedicated to serving local communities and supporting grassroots social justice organizations and movements. Purchasing a Ben & Jerry's franchise is a unique opportunity for like-minded business owners to demonstrate both their entrepreneurial skills and their passion for social justice.

It makes sense that Ben & Jerry's lists social awareness and a commitment to running an ethical business as two of its licensing requirements. Among these and other factors, franchisees must also have at least two years of management experience, a strong credit history, a minimum net worth of $350,000 and $100,000 in liquid assets. Ben & Jerry's also prefers that its franchisees have a college degree or higher, although this is not necessarily a critical element of your application.

11. Essbare Arrangements

  • Initial Franchise Fee:$20,000 to $30,000.

  • Estimated total initial investment:173.660 $ bis 373.450 $.

Edible Arrangements is best known for its floral fruit arrangements, but the company is expanding its offerings to include other sweet treats, including CBD products and smoothies. It's just one aspect of a comprehensive growth and expansion plan that includes redesigning their stores, opening more locations in new territories and strengthening their franchise support system.

To become an Edible Arrangements franchisee you must have a total net worth of $250,000 and cash and cash equivalents of $80,000. To submit an initial application and request more information about owning an Edible Arrangements franchise, you may complete a short questionnaire on the Company's franchise website.

12. Cinnabon

  • Initial Franchise Fee:30.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:181.900 $ bis 340.400 $.

Currently, Cinnabon operates offices in all but three states across the country. However, they have plans to take their business to these cinnamon bun deprived states, and they rely on franchise owners to help them along the way.

If you want to be the first to bring a Cinnabon to Vermont, Maine, or Rhode Island, or you just want to make more cinnamon rolls available to more people in your state (because there aren't too many cinnamon rolls), own a Cinnabon franchise is the way to do this. To qualify, you must have at least $120,000 in liquidated funds and at least $300,000 in total assets, among other eligibility requirements. You can inquire about buying or building one of several types of Cinnabon venues, including a full bakery, a co-branded store, a kiosk bakery, or a co-brand kiosk bakery.

13. Milk Queen

  • Initial Franchise Fee:45.000 $.

  • Estimated total initial investment:$1 million to $1.8 million.

At 80 years old, Dairy Queen is the most established restaurant on this list and a powerhouse in the fast food landscape, both in America and beyond: DQ currently operates over 6,800 restaurants in the US, Canada and 27 countries worldwide.

For your franchisee application to be considered, you must have at least $400,000 in accessible, liquid capital per unit and at least $750,000 in total assets for a single unit (multiple unit net worth requirements are higher). If you don't have personal restaurant management experience, you can hire or work with someone who does. You can contact DQ's franchise team to learn more about their requirements and the process of opening and managing a franchise.

14. Cold Stone Dairy

  • Initial Franchise Fee:10.000 bis 27.000 US-Dollar.

  • Estimated total initial investment:53.200 $ bis 468.775 $.

Cold Stone Creamery may not be as iconic (yet) as DQ and Baskin-Robbins, but the 32-year-old ice cream shop is growing fast: It currently operates over 1,000 locations in the US and nearly 30 countries worldwide, and they're launching an initiative to to open hundreds more locations in the next few years.

Interested franchisees must have at least $100,000 in liquidated funds and $250,000 in total assets. But Cold Stone Creamery also makes this list for their accessible initial franchise fee, which can go as high as $10,000.

The final result

Whether you are considering one of the 14 food franchise opportunities presented here or any other franchise opportunity, it is important to understand which of these franchise opportunities is right for you.

The first step is to look closely at each franchise's investment requirements and determine if you have the financial capacity for those investments. If not, check if the franchise offers financial incentives and your qualifications to look outsideFranchise Financing. And while all of the grocery franchises we've mentioned have strong brand awareness and solid reputations, owning a franchise whose target demographic aligns with your particular region makes sense to get the best bang for your buck.

Perhaps most importantly, you must like and trust your prospective franchisor. Request any literature available, evaluate their training and support systems, reach out to other franchisees in their network, and ask questions freely. Read the franchise agreement carefully - you should also take this past a lawyer. Remember that franchising has both pros and cons, but if you do your research and weigh the pros and cons, you can find the perfect franchise opportunity for you.

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