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Top 120 Restaurant Franchises

All the information you need to get started

For tips on how to start your own restaurant in this economy click here.

Everybody gets hungry. They get hungry for pretzels at the mall, something sweet after supper or wings while watching their favorite football team. And nobody likes to cook three meals a day, seven days a week-no matter how bad the economy gets. So buying a restaurant franchise could be the perfect opportunity for you, whether you're looking to serve up barbecue or burritos.

This listing showcases the 120 restaurant franchises organized by category, then by their rank in the 2009 Franchise 500�, Entrepreneur's comprehensive franchise ranking.

This ranking is not an endorsement of any of these franchise companies and is only intended as a starting point. You should only invest in a franchise after conducting your own extensive research, including carefully reading the Franchise Disclosure Document, contacting existing franchise owners, and consulting an attorney and an accountant.
Listing compiled by Tracy Stapp.

Baked goods

Dunkin' Donuts
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 36
Coffee, doughnuts, baked goods

Auntie Anne's Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 73
Hand-rolled soft pretzels

Pretzelmaker/Pretzel Time
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 99
Gourmet pretzels

Cinnabon
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 114
Cinnamon rolls & baked goods

Wetzel's Pretzels
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 228
Soft pretzels, lemonade, hot dogs

Nestle Toll House
Cafe by Chip
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 232
Cookies, baked goods, coffee, ice cream, smoothies

Great American Cookie Co. Franchising LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 257
Cookies

Great Harvest Franchising Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 290
Bread bakery

Bruegger's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 306
Bagels, breads, sandwiches, soups, salads

Big Apple Bagels
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 369
Bagels, sandwiches, gourmet coffee, muffins, smoothies

Philly Pretzel Factory
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 480
Pretzel bakery

Chicken

KFC Corp.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 14
Chicken

Chester's Int'l.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 74
Quick-service chicken restaurant

Buffalo Wild Wings
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 87
Buffalo wings & sandwiches

Wingstop Restaurants Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 97
Chicken wings

El Pollo Loco
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 150
Flame-grilled chicken meals & Mexican entrees

Bojangles' Restaurants Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 158
Chicken & biscuits

Wing Zone Franchise Corp.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 329
Buffalo wings takeout & delivery

Wings Over . . .
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 490
Chicken wings

Coffee

Scooter's Coffeehouse
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 340
Coffee, teas, smoothies, pastries, sandwiches

Daily Grind Unwind Coffee House & Cafe
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 360
Coffeehouse & cafe

Dunn Bros Coffee
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 367
Coffee

The Human Bean Drive Thru
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 380
Specialty coffee
Full-service restaurants

Denny's Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 25
Full-service family restaurant

CiCi's Pizza
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 91
All-you-can-eat pizza buffet

Golden Corral Franchising Systems Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 125
Family steakhouse, buffet & bakery

Friendly's Restaurants Franchise LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 182
Family-style restaurant/ice cream

Beef 'O'Brady's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 190
Family sports pub

The Melting Pot Restaurants Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 203
Fondue-specialty restaurant

Famous Dave's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 216
Barbecue-themed restaurant

Boston Pizza Restaurants LP
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 338
Casual dining restaurant & sports bar

Western Sizzlin
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 421
Family steakhouse

Genghis Grill
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 442
Mongolian stir-fry restaurant

Indigo Joe's Sports Pub & Restaurant
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 455
Sports pub & restaurant

Native New Yorker
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 457
Sports bar

Bandana's Bar-B-Q
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 458
Barbecue restaurant

Bar-B-Cutie
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 463
Barbecue restaurant

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 500
Family-style restaurant

Hamburgers

McDonald's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 2
Hamburgers, chicken, salads

Sonic Drive In Restaurants
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 4
Drive-in restaurant

Hardee's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 26
Burgers, chicken, biscuits

Carl's Jr. Restaurants
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 62
Hamburgers

Checkers Drive-In
Restaurants Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 89
Burgers & fries

A & W Restaurants Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 199
Burgers, hot dogs, root beer

Farmer Boys
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 396
Hamburgers

Ice cream & frozen desserts

Baskin-Robbins USA Co.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 13
Ice cream, frozen yogurt, frozen beverages

Dairy Queen
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 16
Soft-serve dairy products & sandwiches

Cold Stone Creamery
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 46
Ice cream, Italian sorbet

Rita's Italian Ice
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 76
Italian ices, frozen custard, gelati

Ben & Jerry's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 120
Ice cream parlor

Dippin' Dots Franchising
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 175
Specialty ice cream, frozen
yogurt, ices, sherbert

Yogen Fruz
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 213
Frozen yogurt & soft-serve ice cream

The Haagen-Dazs Shoppe Co. Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 223
Ice cream & frozen yogurt

Marble Slab Creamery Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 244
Ice cream, frozen yogurt, baked goods

Bruster's Real Ice Cream
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 279
Homemade ice cream

MaggieMoo's Int'l. LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 342
Ice cream, smoothies, cakes

Culver Franchising System Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 355
Frozen custard & specialty burgers

Cefiore
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 417
Frozen yogurt

Paciugo Italian Gelato
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 418
Gelato

Freddy's Frozen Custard LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 441
Frozen custard, steak burgers, hot dogs

Repicci's Italian Ice
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 454
Italian ice

Ziiing Frozen Yogurt
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 460
Frozen yogurt

Juice bars

Smoothie King
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 67
Smoothies & healthy products

Robeks Fruit Smoothies & Healthy Eats
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 172
Fruit smoothies & healthy foods

Tropical Smoothie Cafe
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 176
Smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, coffee, soups

Juice It Up!
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 189
Juice bar

Surf City Squeeze
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 234
Smoothies, fruit drinks,
nutritional supplements

Nrgize Lifestyle Cafe
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 255
Smoothies, meal-replacement shakes, protein bars

Maui Wowi Hawaiian
Coffees & Smoothies
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 256
Hawaiian coffees & smoothies

Planet Smoothie
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 339
Smoothies & snacks

Froots
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 451
Smoothies, wraps, salads, soups, juices

Mexican quick service

Taco Bell Corp.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 20
Quick-service Mexican restaurant

Qdoba Mexican Grill
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 94
Fast-casual Mexican food

Moe's Southwest Grill
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 113
Fast-casual Southwestern food

Taco John's Int'l. Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 152
Mexican food

TacoTime
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 204
Quick-service Mexican restaurant

Salsarita's Fresh Cantina
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 411
Fresh-Mex-style cantina

Pizza

Pizza Hut
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 7
Pizza

Papa John's Int'l. Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 10
Pizza

Domino's Pizza LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 41
Pizza, breadsticks, buffalo wings

Papa Murphy's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 51
Take-and-bake pizza

Hungry Howie's Pizza & Subs
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 93
Pizza, subs, salads

Fox's Pizza Den
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 208
Pizza, sandwiches, salads, wings

RedBrick Pizza
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 235
Fast-casual pizza restaurant

Marco's Franchising LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 236
Pizza & submarine sandwiches

The Pizza Ranch
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 305
Pizza, chicken, wraps

Z Pizza
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 317
Pizza, salads, sandwiches,
calzones

Pizza Factory Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 351
Pizza, pasta, sandwiches

Donatos Pizza
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 372
Pizzas & sandwiches

Figaro's Pizza
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 374
Baked pizza & take-and-bake pizza

Ledo Pizza System Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 378
Pizza, subs, pasta

Gatti's Pizza
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 382
Pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches

Mellow Mushroom
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 385
Pizza, calzones, hoagies, salads

Famous Famiglia
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 401
Pizza

Russo's New York Pizzeria
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 462
Pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches

Salad Restaurants

Saladworks
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 272
Salads, soups, wraps, paninis

Salad Creations Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 388
Salads, wraps, soups

Sandwiches

Subway
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 1
Submarine sandwiches & salads

Arby's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 18
Sandwiches, chicken, salads

Quiznos Sub
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 50
Submarine sandwiches, soups, salads

Jimmy John's Gourmet
Sandwich Shops
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 53
Gourmet sandwiches

Firehouse Subs
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 90
Submarine sandwiches

Charley's Grilled Subs
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 132
Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, grilled subs, fries, salads

McAlister's Deli
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 136
Southern-style upscale deli

Pita Pit Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 157
Pita sandwiches

Jersey Mike's Subs
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 168
Submarine sandwiches & salads

Schlotzsky's
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 181
Sandwiches & pizza

Lenny's Sub Shop
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 183
Philly cheesesteak & sub
sandwiches

Extreme Pita
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 192
Pita wrap sandwiches

Penn Station East Coast Subs
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 206
Specialty sandwiches

Which Wich? Superior Sandwiches
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 258
Sandwiches, milkshakes, cookies

The Great Steak & Potato Co.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 296
Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, fries, baked potatoes

Blimpie
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 348
Submarine sandwiches & salads

The Steak Escape
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 384
Grilled sandwiches, baked
potatoes, salads

Spicy Pickle
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 395
Paninis, salads, subs, soups, pizzetti

Port of Subs
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 397
Submarine sandwiches & salads

Miscellaneous quick service

Long John Silver's
Restaurants Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 32
Fish & chicken

Hot Stuff Foods LLC
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 81
Fast-food systems for
nontraditional markets

Nathan's Famous Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 166
Hot dogs, hamburgers, seafood, chicken, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches

Blendz Franchise System Inc.
2009 Franchise 500 ranking: 423
Salads, paninis, smoothies, soups

 

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This article was originally published in the April 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Top 120 Restaurant Franchises.

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