Everyone needs to eat, and what better way to jump into the food business than with the training, support, and resources of a top restaurant franchise? Though each franchise listed here is committed to providing an essential service to humanity--and providing it well--each offers a unique twist on the kind of food and dining experience to customers. Use this list as a starting point to find one that suits your taste and style.
#1 Denny's Inc.
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #47
Full-service family restaurant
Casual dining and moderately priced meals are available 24 hours a day at Denny's locations. Starting as a donut chain in 1953, Denny's now has more than 1,500 locations in the U.S. and around the world and is designated as one of the best companies for diversity.
#2 CiCi's Pizza
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #92
All-you-can-eat pizza buffet
America can't seem to get enough of the buffet style pizza and pasta, quality service, and low prices CiCi's Pizza promises. And we can't either as they have more than 600 franchises nationwide and counting since first opening in 1985 in Plano, Texas. Between 2007 and 2008, it saw a 2.3 percent increase in sales with a 16 percent increase in sales the year before that.
#3 Golden Corral Franchising Systems Inc.
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #135
Family steakhouse, buffet & bakery
Golden Corral is home to the "Great Steak Buffet" as well as pasta, pizza, and grilled meats. Committing to their motto of "Everyone Deserves a Good Meal," they keep prices low while offering tasty food. As of 2007, the company started in 1973 has grown to $1.5 billion in sales.
#4 Huddle House
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #137
Since starting in Georgia in 1964, Huddle House has sought to provide a warm and inviting environment as well as Southern-style comfort food for the communities around them. This past year alone, customers downed 125 million cups of coffee and about 30 million orders of hash browns from one of the 400 and counting franchise locations.
#5 Beef 'O' Brady's
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #182
Family sports pub
Jim Mellody started Beef 'O' Brady's in 1985 after acquiring a small sandwich shop. Mellody eventually introduced chicken wings into the menu, along with signature sandwiches, burgers, and salads. The chain offers a family, sports pub environment and for franchisors a large network of partners to help in any and all ways possible.
#6 Famous Dave's
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #192
After a long journey to perfectly smoked BBQ ribs, Dave Anderson opened his first restaurant in Hayward, Wisconsin in 1994. With an intensive 10-week training program for managers and specific qualifications for pit masters, Famous Dave's commits to providing the best service and best tasting BBQ in the country.
#7 The Melting Pot Restaurants Inc.
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #201
The first Melting Pot Restaurant opened in 1975 in Maitland, Florida, and since has expanded to more than 129 locations, with at least 42 more in development. The fondue franchise promises a unique experience, private tables, and attentive service at every restaurant.
#8 DoubleDave's Pizzaworks Systems Inc.
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #283
Davyyd Miller founded DoubleDave's in 1984, serving up pizza, stromboli and the signature pepperoni rolls. The Texas-based company prides itself in training its employees and franchisees to make its signature, hand-tossed pizza dough.
#9 Boston Pizza
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #316
Casual dining restaurant & sports bar
It started in 1964, with a concept: provide two different dining experiences under the same roof. Offering both casual, family dining, and a sports bar experiences, the Canada-based company plans to bring those experiences to the public with 100 new restaurants in the next few years. In an effort to give back to their communities, it started the Boston Pizza Foundation and commits to supporting three national charities through various events during the year.
#10 BD's Mongolian Barbeque
2008 Franchise 500 ranking: #377
Create-your-own stir fry restaurant
By allowing its customers to create their own stir fry, BD's Mongolian Barbeque promises a unique experience, every visit. Since 1992, guests choose their own ingredients from a variety of meats, seafood, vegetables, salads, sauces, and spices and it's prepared on a large grill.