20. Firehouse Subs
19. Buffalo Wild Wings
18. Cold Stone Creamery
16. Carl's Jr.
14. Dairy Queen
13. Auntie Anne's
12. Papa John's
9. Papa Murphy's
8. Taco Bell
7. Jack in the Box
5. Pizza Hut
4. Dunkin Donuts
1. Jimmy John's
Every year, Entrepreneur ranks the top 500 franchises. While the 2016 list features restaurants galore, we've paired it down to give you the top 20 chains in the buzzy, fast-moving world of fast food.
The companies you see below were judged on their financial strength and stability, size and growth over the last two years. Also considered were the costs associated with opening one of these franchises and how long the company has been operating. We've provided some of that data, plus a few fun facts, to give you a whole picture of what the franchise is all about.
Now that we've chewed over the details and digested the information, check out the results below. Did your favorite place make the cut?
Year began: 1994
Franchising since: 1995
Number of franchised units in 2015: 870
Startup costs: $128.8K - $1.2M
Year began: 1982
Franchising since: 1991
Number of franchised units in 2015: 590
Startup costs: $1.4M - $3.6M
Fun fact: Jim Disbrow, a co-founder of the chain, was a professional figure skater in the 1960s and the president of the U.S. Figure Skating Association from 1998 to 2000. He got the idea for Buffalo Wild Wings when he was judging a figure skating competition in Ohio; he wanted some buffalo wings and there wasn't a restaurant in the area that served them.
Year began: 1988
Franchising since: 1994
Number of franchised units in 2015: 1,224
Startup costs: $261.1K - $404.5K
Fun fact: Customers had the option to buy chocolate-covered crickets at Cold Stone locations in 2001 due to the popularity of the CBS reality show Survivor. Those who ate the insects scored free ice cream on their next visit.
Year began: 1945
Franchising since: 1984
Number of franchised units in 2015: 1,257
Startup costs: $1.3M - $1.9M
Year began: 1945
Franchising since: 1948
Number of franchised units in 2015: 7,627
Startup costs: $90.4K - $396.1K
Fun fact: From the Baskin-Robbins website: "Baskin Robbins is the current Guinness World Record holder for the largest cup of ice cream. It was made on September 13, 2005, in celebration of its 60th birthday. This massive chunk of vanilla ice cream weighed 8,865 pounds!"
Year began: 1953
Franchising since: 1959
Number of franchised units in 2015: 3,127
Startup costs: $1.1M - $1.97M
Year began: 1981
Franchising since: 1982
Number of franchised units in 2015: 1,369
Startup costs: $264.8K - $446.2K
Fun fact: Papa Murphy's got it's name because in 1995, Terry Collins decided to merge the two pizza chains he'd previously acquired -- Papa Aldo's Pizza, based in Oregon and Murphy's Pizza, based in California.
Year began: 1962
Franchising since: 1964
Number of franchised units in 2015: 5,272
Startup costs: $1.2M - $2.6M
Year began: 1965
Franchising since: 1974
Number of franchised units in 2015: 43,916
Startup costs: $116.6 K - $263.2 K
Fun fact: Subway announced in June 2015 that it would begin eliminating artifical colors, flavors and preservatives from its menu over the next 18 months.
Year began: 1983
Franchising since: 1993
Number of franchised units in 2015: 2,238
Startup costs: $323 K - $544 K
Fun fact: Jimmy John's is the highest-ranked franchise among the entire Franchise 500 for 2016, climbing from the number six slot in 2015. The company's founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, started out by handing out free sandwiches to college students in Mattoon, Ill., in the 1980s.