You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Ever Dreamed of Owning Your Own Restaurant? These Top Full-Service Restaurant Franchises Are the Best in the Business Serving up everything from delectable pizza to sizzling Japanese BBQ, discover the top 15 full-service restaurant franchises, according to the 2024 Franchise 500 Ranking.

By Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Key Takeaways

  • This list showcases a wide range of culinary styles, from classic American diner offerings to French-style pastries and baked goods.
  • Several franchises on this list have had significant recent growth rates.
  • These franchises have shown adaptability in their business models and innovation in their offerings.
entrepreneur daily

In today's dining scene, it's not just about grabbing a bite — it's about creating lasting memories with every meal. That's why the demand for top-notch, full-service restaurant franchises continues to soar. Whether you're an experienced restaurateur or a newcomer to the industry, there's plenty of room to grow and thrive.

Now, let's dig into the good stuff: The best full-service restaurant franchises of 2024, straight from our 2024 Franchise 500 Ranking. From cozy spots where locals gather to high-end eateries perfect for special occasions, these restaurant franchises cover a wide range of tastes and styles. So if you've ever dreamed of owning your own slice of the restaurant biz, these options might just be your recipe for success.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests, and budget.

1. IHOP

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 19
  • Founded: 1958
  • Franchising since: 1960
  • Number of units: 1,832
  • Change in units: +3.4% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,200,000-$6,600,000
  • Leadership: Jay Johns, President
  • Parent company: IHOP Franchisor LLC

Since its humble beginnings in 1958 with the inaugural IHOP in Toluca Lake, California, IHOP has expanded to more than 1,900 franchised locations worldwide, consistently making it one of the best restaurant franchises to own. What started as a pancake-centric menu has evolved to offer a diverse array of options, including waffles, French toast and omelets, as well as lunch and dinner favorites like hamburgers, salads and pastas. Now part of Dine Brands Global Inc., alongside brands such as Applebee's (with which IHOP is planning joint restaurants later this year) and Fuzzy's Taco Shop, IHOP continues to delight diners with its iconic breakfast offerings served any time of day.

Related: Are Denny's Corporation Investors Due For A Grand Slam?

2. Denny's

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 121
  • Founded: 1953
  • Franchising since: 1963
  • Number of units: 1,588
  • Change in units: -5.0% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,00,000-$2,300,000
  • Leadership: Kelli Valade, CEO & President
  • Parent company: DFO LLC

Established in 1953 as "Danny's Donuts," Denny's quickly evolved into one of America's largest full-service restaurant chains, known for its around-the-clock service and delicious meals. With locations in Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, the UAE and beyond, Denny's serves millions of customers daily, offering affordable, family-style dining in a casual atmosphere.

Leveraging its strategic positioning along interstate highways, Denny's has become synonymous with accessible, quality food and consistently ranks as one of the best restaurant franchises while remaining a prominent fixture across the United States.

Related: See Who Made This Year's Franchise 500 Hall of Fame

3. Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 134
  • Founded: 2003
  • Franchising since: 2015
  • Number of units: 73
  • Change in units: +82.5% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,300,000-$5,00,000
  • Leadership: Christopher Dawson, CEO
  • Parent company: Walk-On's Enterprises

Since their chance encounter as walk-ons (unrecruited athletes) for the Louisiana State University basketball team, Jack Warner and Brandon Landry have shared not only a love for the game but also a vision for business. This dream culminated in the founding of Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux in 2003, where they combined their passions for sports and dining to create a unique experience. Walk-on's Sports Bistreaux has quickly emerged as a favorite among family sports bars, building a strong brand presence. Since launching franchising operations in 2015, Walk-On's has experienced rapid growth, with over 70 locations now open and operating across the United States — and no signs of slowing down.

Related: This Founder Walked-On to a Top College Basketball Team in the '90s. Today, He and Drew Brees Are Bringing the 'Walk-On Mentality' to Franchising.

4. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Restaurant

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 188
  • Founded: 1996
  • Franchising since: 1997
  • Number of units: 783
  • Change in units: -2.0% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,200,000-$2,600,000
  • Leadership: Ryo Tozu, CEO
  • Parent company: Reins USA Franchise Co.

Meaning "horn of the bull" in Japanese, Gyu-Kaku is an international yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant chain known for its interactive dining experience. Established in 1996 and franchising since 1997, Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Restaurant empowers customers to cook their food at their tables using convenient, self-venting in-table roasters. Adapted for the U.S. market by Reins International USA, the brand has grown rapidly since its stateside debut, boasting more than 750 locations worldwide and a commitment to expanding across more U.S. states and regions in the future. With a proven track record and a unique dining concept, Gyu-Kaku continues to captivate diners with its innovative approach to Japanese barbecue.

Related: This Entrepreneur Is on a Mission to Eradicate Generational Poverty in the Black Community — And She's Using Franchising to Do It.

5. Buffalo Wild Wings

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 195
  • Founded: 1982
  • Franchising since: 1991
  • Number of units: 1,252
  • Change in units: -1.0% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $2,500,000-$4,800,000
  • Leadership: Lyle Tick, President
  • Parent company: Inspire Brands

If you're craving wings, beer and sports, Buffalo Wild Wings might be the franchise opportunity you've been looking for. Established in 1982 and franchising since 1991, Buffalo Wild Wings has cemented its status as a global leader in casual dining. With a presence in numerous countries including the U.S., Canada, India and more, they're dedicated to spreading the joy of casual dining worldwide, specializing in wings and specialty sauces. With more than 500 franchises in the U.S. and 60 more internationally — along with 650-plus company-owned locations — Buffalo Wild Wings offers ample opportunities for franchisees to make their mark. Ideal candidates are passionate about great food, fostering community and building a successful business while providing quality meals to their local neighborhoods.

Related: Applebee's and IHOP are Launching Joint Restaurants in the U.S.

6. Boston's Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 196
  • Founded: 1963
  • Franchising since: 1968
  • Number of units: 425
  • Change in units: -1.0% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,000,000-$2,800,000
  • Leadership: Jeff Melnick, President
  • Parent company: N/A

Looking to score big with your own sports bar and pizza joint? Boston's Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar combines delicious pizza, a lively sports atmosphere and a commitment to customer satisfaction. With a robust franchise system established since 1968, Boston's has expanded across the United States and internationally, offering a winning combination of quality food and entertainment. With this full-service restaurant concept, franchisees have the opportunity to tap into a proven business model and become part of a successful brand.

Related: This Marine Turned Around Two Businesses Through Exceptional Leadership. Now They're Approaching a Combined $1 Million in Revenue.

7. The Toasted Yolk Café

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 285
  • Founded: 2010
  • Franchising since: 2016
  • Number of units: 40
  • Change in units: +185.7% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $927,000-$1,500,000
  • Leadership: Chris Milton, CEO
  • Parent company: The Toasted Yolk Franchise Co. LLC

Ready to crack into the breakfast and brunch scene? The Toasted Yolk Café offers a golden opportunity to do just that. Since its inception, The Toasted Yolk Café has been delighting diners with its innovative menu, inviting atmosphere and commitment to serving up the most important meal of the day with a twist. Founded in 2010, The Toasted Yolk Café has quickly established itself as a favorite breakfast and brunch destination, earning a loyal following along the way. With a franchising program launched in 2016, the brand has expanded rapidly, bringing its unique blend of comfort food and hospitality to communities across the United States.

Related: One Entrepreneur's Journey From Golden Arches to Lash Extensions

8. la Madeleine

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 320
  • Founded: 1983
  • Franchising since: 2011
  • Number of units: 89
  • Change in units: +1.1% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $370,000-$3,100,000
  • Leadership: Christine Johnson, COO
  • Parent company: Le Duff America

Looking to bring a taste of France to your community? Consider joining the la Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe family. Founded in 1983 and franchising since 2011, La Madeleine is a bakery and restaurant chain renowned for its French-style pastries and delectable cuisine. With more than 85 locations nationwide, including more than 60 franchised locations, la Madeleine offers a diverse menu featuring delicious pastries, sandwiches, entrées, salads and all-day breakfast options.

Related: This Entrepreneur Built and Sold a Franchise for Millions. Now He's Betting Big on a $1.38 Billion — and Growing — Industry.

9. California Pizza Kitchen

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 333
  • Founded: 1985
  • Franchising since: 1989
  • Number of units: 181
  • Change in units: -15.0% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $3,500,000-$6,700,000
  • Leadership: Giorgio Minardi, EVP of Global Development
  • Parent company: CPK Holdings Inc.

Looking to turn up the heat in the pizza game? California Pizza Kitchen has been crafting innovative pizzas and California-inspired cuisine that has captivated taste buds since 1985. Since launching its franchising program in 1989, California Pizza Kitchen has expanded its footprint to more than 180 locations. With a commitment to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and embracing culinary creativity, California Pizza Kitchen delivers a dining ex`perience that's as fresh and vibrant as the California sunshine. As a franchisee, you'll have the opportunity to join a trusted brand known for its quality food, welcoming atmosphere and dedication to customer satisfaction.

Related: Don't Have Time to Start a Business? This Doctor, Lawyer and Now Part-Time Franchisee Would Disagree.

10. Black Bear Diner

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 344
  • Founded: 1995
  • Franchising since: 2002
  • Number of units: 156
  • Change in units: +11.4% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,500,000-$2,100,000
  • Leadership: Anita Adams, CEO
  • Parent company: BBD Holdco LLC

With more than 150 locations spread across the United States, Black Bear Diner offers a rustic yet inviting atmosphere, reminiscent of crisp mountain air and vibrant autumn foliage. Franchisees have the opportunity to tap into a brand that captures the essence of mountain living and embraces the spirit of the season.

Related: How Immigrating from Argentina to the Bronx Prepared Her for Life as a Franchisee

11. Golden Corral

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 346
  • Founded: 1973
  • Franchising since: 1987
  • Number of units: 362
  • Change in units: -13% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $3,500,000-$9,200,000
  • Leadership: Lance Trenary, CEO
  • Parent company: Golden Corral Corp.

Golden Corral, established in 1973, is an American restaurant chain famous for its extensive all-you-can-eat buffet and grill. Offering over 150 food choices, including salads, hot dishes and desserts, it caters to diverse tastes. With a welcoming atmosphere and more than 360 locations, Golden Corral prides itself on serving quality meals in abundant portions. Ideal for franchisees with a passion for exceptional food and hospitality, it provides opportunities to delight customers and foster community connections.

Related: Don't Make These 5 Risky Franchise Ownership Mistakes

12. Eggs Up Grill

  • Overall Fracnhise 500 rank: 379
  • Founded: 1986
  • Franchising since: 2005
  • Number of units: 67
  • Change in units: +55.8% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $611,000-$935,000
  • Leadership: Ricky Richardson, CEO
  • Parent company: WJ Partners

Eggs Up Grill is a thriving franchise specializing in delicious breakfast and lunch options, perfect for starting the day right or enjoying a midday treat. From fluffy omelets to mouthwatering sandwiches, each dish is prepared with care and attention to quality ingredients. With a welcoming atmosphere and a commitment to customer satisfaction, Eggs Up Grill franchises offer entrepreneurs a rewarding opportunity to bring joy to their communities through the simple pleasure of a great meal.

Additionally, the lower initial investment — typically under $1 million — makes Eggs Up Grill one of the cheapest full-service restaurant franchises to start up.

Related: This Sleep Company Is Combining 2 Key Factors to Transform the $40 Billion Mattress Industry — And It Just Made Another Major Move

13. Wings Etc.

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 383
  • Founded: 1994
  • Franchising since: 2005
  • Number of units: 80
  • Change in units: +6.7% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $344,000-$2,800,000
  • Leadership: Rob Hensmann, CEO
  • Parent company: Wings Etc. Inc.

Step into the ultimate sports and family hangout at Wings Etc., where every visit promises a winning combination of mouthwatering cuisine and laid-back vibes. Established in 1994 by Jim Weaver, this grill and pub franchise has perfected the art of serving up hearty fare, including their famous jumbo wings, burgers, wraps and more. Whether you're catching the game on one of the many flat-screen TVs or challenging friends to arcade-level video games, there's something for everyone to enjoy. With more than 50 U.S. franchises and 25 corporate-owned locations, Wings Etc. continues to be the go-to destination for families seeking wholesome fun and delicious eats.

Related: Is Franchising Right For You? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions to Find Out

14. Tony Roma's

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 404
  • Founded: 1972
  • Franchising since: 1979
  • Number of units: 57
  • Change in units: -46% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,700,000-$2,900,000
  • Leadership: Mohaimina Haque, CEO
  • Parent company: Romacorp Inc.

Tony Roma's is a household name celebrated for its legendary secret BBQ sauce. Since its inception in 1972 in Miami, Florida, Tony Roma's has expanded worldwide, venturing into international markets with its first franchise opening in Tokyo in 1979. Now, as they continue to expand, this restaurant brand continues to set the standard for unforgettable dining experiences infused with flavor and flair.

Related: From Coding to Creole Cooking — Here Are 5 Inspiring Success Stories of Black-Owned Businesses

15. Perkins Restaurant & Bakery

  • Overall Franchise 500 rank: 429
  • Founded: 1958
  • Franchising since: 1958
  • Number of units: 272
  • Change in units: -13% over 3 years
  • Initial investment: $1,500,000-$3,300,000
  • Leadership: James O'Reilly, CEO
  • Parent Company: Ascent Hospitality Management

Bring the timeless appeal of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery to your community as a franchisee. Since 1958, Perkins has been a cherished destination for families craving top-quality American fare served with a side of warmth and hospitality. As a franchise owner, you'll have the chance to offer beloved classics like all-day breakfasts and a diverse range of home-style favorites, all crafted with care and tradition.

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Writer, Editor & Content Marketing Consultant

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Specializing in lifestyle, business, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Realtor.com, Travel + Leisure, and Bon Appétit, among other print and digital titles. Through her content marketing consultancy, By Clarissa, she leverages her extensive editorial background and unique industry insights to support enterprise organizations and global creative agencies with their B2B, B2C, and B2E content initiatives. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Resumes & Interviewing

Build a Better Resume with This $35 Subscription

AI Resume Builder promises to help you apply to jobs twice as fast.

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Marketing

I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.

Business News

Samsung Makes 6 Day Workweeks Mandatory for Executives as the Company Enters 'Emergency Mode'

Samsung said its performance "fell short of expectations" last year. Now executives are required to work weekends.

Productivity

6 Habits That Help Successful People Maximize Their Time

There aren't enough hours in the day, but these tips will make them feel slightly more productive.

Leadership

You Won't Have a Strong Leadership Presence Until You Master These 5 Attributes

If you are a poor leader internally, you will be a poor leader externally.