The top 16 food franchise opportunities in America

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Many people interested in opening a franchise look to the food space.

Entrepreneur.com recently compiled a list of the top franchises in 2015 based on their Franchise 500 score. The score is based on expansion plans, financial stability, and cost to open a franchise.

We broke out a list of the top food franchises of 2015.


16. Church's Chicken

Number of franchises: 1,396

Cost to open a franchise: $413,000-$1 million


Why it's hot: Church's is one of the largest chicken chains recognized around the world. The company is aiming for widespread, rapid growth. Church's encourages those with an entrepreneurial spirit to join the business.

15. Baskin-Robbins

Number of franchises/co.: 7,546

Cost to open a franchise: $90,000 - $396,000

Why it's hot: Baskin-Robbins has around 7,300 locations worldwide. It places its efforts into fostering stable relationships with its franchisees. "Baskin-Robbins wants their franchisees to succeed and provides strong training and operational support which has positively impacted my profitability," writes Chassidy Peters, a franchisee owner of 2 stores, on the company's website.

14. Auntie Anne's

More cheese. Always more cheese. #SayCheddar

A photo posted by Auntie Anne's (@auntieannespretzels) on


Number of franchises/co.: 1,598

Cost to open a franchise: $196,000 - $370,000

Why it's hot: Auntie Anne's is so well-liked that even stars like Shaquille O'Neal have franchised with the company. The global pretzel chain is unique in that no other chains produce product like it at such a large volume.

13. Papa Murphy's

Number of franchises/co.: 1,369

Cost to open a franchise: $265,000 - $446,000


Why it's hot: Auntie Anne's is so well-liked that even stars like Shaquille O'Neal have franchised with the company. The global pretzel chain is unique in that no other chains produce product like it at such a large volume.

12. Papa John'sHollis Johnson

Number of franchises/co.: 3,924

Cost to open a franchise: $130,000 - $844,000

Why it's hot: Papa John's is planning major international expansion, which is attracting entrepreneurs. The business has been reporting strong sales lately, which brings in people looking to invest in the company and become a part of the Papa John's family.

11. Sonic

Number of franchises: 3,127

Cost to open a franchise: $1 million - $2 million


Why it's hot: Sonic is a drive-in fast food chain that began franchising in 1959. Ninety percent of its restaurants are franchised. Its menu includes corn dogs, tater-tots, onion rings, chicken sandwiches and slushies.

10. Taco Bell

Number of franchises: 5,157

Cost to open a franchise: $1 million - $million


Why it's hot: Like many of the other top franchises, Taco Bell has incredible brand awareness that attracts customers nationally. The Mexican chain also has a large peer network of 350 franchisees, and 35% of them have more than 25 years of experience. This support system is helpful when building a business.

9. Hardee's

Number of franchises/co: 1,687

Cost to open a franchise: $1 million - $2 million


Why it's hot: Like Carl's Jr., Hardee's is owned by CKE. It also can be dual-branded with Mexican chain Red Burrito, which is a unique feature that attracts franchisees.

8. KFC

Number of franchises/co.: 13,846

Cost to open a franchise: $1 million - $3 million

Why it's hot: Like McDonald's, KFC is a world-renowned company. This year, the chain been shaking up its menu and expanding, helping it to gain plenty of media attention. This brings in entrepreneurs looking to take part in the innovative time for the company.

7. McDonald's

#WorldFamousFries going for the double axel. #FigureSkating

A photo posted by McDonald's (@mcdonalds) on


Number of franchises/co.: 29,544

Cost to open a franchise: $989,000 - $3 million


Why it's hot: McDonald's is one of the most popular fast-food chains in the world. The extensive training and support from the company brings in many franchisees looking to be a part of the dynasty.

6. Dunkin Donuts

Number of franchises/co.: 11,310

Cost to open a franchise: $217,000 - $2 million

Why it's hot: Dunkin' Donuts is another company that's distinguishable worldwide. With coffee being such a large commodity in the world, these franchises succeed in most cases. Brand loyalty is at its peak with the chain's customers as well.

5. Pizza Hut

No compromises. Just yes.

A photo posted by Pizza Hut 🍕 (@pizzahut) on


Number of franchises/co.: 12,956

Cost to open a franchise: $297,000 - $2 million

Why it's hot: The pizza industry is lucrative, and investors can trust respected companies like Pizza Hut to succeed. The recognizable chain has a trusted reputation and a strong support structure for franchises to help its owners successfully run their stores.

4. Denny's

Number of franchises/co.: 1,536

Cost to open a franchise: $1 million - $2 million

Why it's hot: Denny's is a company that focuses on growth, so it puts a lot of its efforts into building strong relationships with its franchisees. Around 90% of Denny's are franchise-operated, and the company offers its franchises support across all levels of the business.

3. Jimmy John's

Number of franchises: 2,238

Cost to open a franchise: $323,000 - $544,000


Why it's hot: Known for its "freaky-fast" delivery, Jimmy John's is a gourmet sandwich shop. It was founded in 1983 by a newly high school graduate who built the chain by sharing 25% of the profit with its managers. From there, store sales saw a huge increase.

2. Jack in the Box

Number of franchises: 2,238

Cost to open a franchise: $323,000 - $544,000


Why it's hot: Based in San Diego, California, Jack in the Box began as a burger chain in 1951. By 1982, the restaurant began franchising and its menu expanded to offer salads, tacos, breakfast, and milkshakes. In 2003, the Jack in the Box acquired Qdoba Mexican Grill.

1. Subway

Tis the season to #SaveLunchBreak! Grab yourself a warm sub, and check out the holiday cheer.

A photo posted by Official Subway (@subway) on


Number of franchises/co.: 42,227

Cost to open a franchise: $117,000 - $263,000

Why it's hot: Despite the controversy surrounding the brand and its former spokesperson, the chain remains one of the leading global sandwich chains. The company started making its menu healthier in recent years, which is also helping to attract customers. It's expanding globally, and many look to be a part of this expansion.

While it might be expensive to sell fast food, it's getting cheaper and cheaper to buy it:
Fast-Food Chains Compete to Offer the Most Food for the Least Money
See Also:
Chick-fil-A is making an unprecedented move to hook millennial moms
This Chinese food chain with a celebrity following that started out in a basement in Queens is a better alternative to Panda Express
Chick-fil-A is doing something no other fast-food chain has done before

SEE ALSO: The top 50 franchises of 2015
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