Franchise 500

5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

If you want to make food but don't have the dough, these food franchises are actually accessible.
Entrepreneur Staff
Associate Editor, Contributed Content
5 min read

Starting a restaurant can be a risky proposition, in large part because of the high price tag associated with finding a physical location, buying equipment and hiring staff. Even restaurants with dollar menus often cost seven figures. (For example, a McDonald's franchise will run anywhere between $1 million and $2.2 million). In fact, of the top 10 restaurants in the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list, Jersey Mike's Subs is the most affordable with a minimum price tag of $193,000.

Even if you're willing to dive in, get to work and take a chance on a restaurant, that type of price tag can be prohibitive for many potential investors. That's why we've put together a list of successful but accessible franchises that cost five figures, allowing you to achieve your dream without breaking the bank.

Start the slideshow to learn more about each of these franchises.

Related: The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018

5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

Firehouse Subs

The amount you'll need to invest in a Firehouse Subs restaurant can vary wildly depending on a bunch of factors, but on the low end of that scale it is around $95,000. However, according to the Firehouse Subs franchising page, you need a minimum of $80,000 to invest (plus a credit score of 650+), which means that it's not totally out of the ballpark.

The subs franchise is looking to invest in new franchises all over the country -- from New York to Florida and California -- but you can see a full map of franchise opportunities here.

Franchise 500 rank: 39

CEO: Don Fox

Business headquarters: Jacksonville, Fla.

Franchising since: 1995

Initial investment: $94,783 to $1,090,366

Initial franchise fee: $20,000

New units in 2016: 80 units (8.0 percent)

Training: 336 hours on the job, 35 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: Quiz: How Much Do You Really Know About McDonald's?

5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

Baskin-Robbins

It's still wintertime, so you might not be ready to think about ice cream just yet, but you should. Baskin-Robbins franchises have shown a ton of growth internationally since 2008. In the past decade, Baskin-Robbins has added 2,151 international franchises, which represents a 67.4 percent growth. 

The ice cream franchise sells for a minimum of $93,550. However, considering that its sister company, Dunkin' Donuts, typically sells for between $229,000 and $1.7 million, it could definitely be worse.

Franchise 500 rank: 41

CEO: Nigel Travis

Business headquarters: Canton, Mass.

Franchising since: 1948

Initial investment: $93,550 to $401,800

Initial franchise fee: $25,000

New units in 2017: 164 units (2.1 percent)

Training: 2.5 weeks on the job, 2.5 weeks in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, SEO, website development, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: The 5 Best Pizza Franchises You Can Start Today

5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

Chester's

Chicken restaurant Chester's has been around since 1952, but it only started franchising in 2004. It only makes sense, then, that the company has experienced rapid growth in the past decade, going from 82 locations in 2008 to 1,156 by 2017. One reason for that is the company's low initial investment, $12,000, and its even lower franchise fee, which is $3,500.

Franchise 500 rank: 153

CEO: Ted W. Giles

Business headquarters: Birmingham, Ala.

Franchising since: 2004

Initial investment: $12,000 to $296,600

Initial franchise fee: $3,500

New units in 2017: 40 units (3.6 percent)

Training: 30 hours on the job, 3 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Ad templates, social media

Related: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a Pizza Hut Franchise

5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

Checkers and Rally's

The number of Checkers and Rally's restaurants has been up and down for the last decade, but by 2017, there was a 10-year high of 851 locations -- 284 owned by the company, 567 U.S. franchises. Checkers and Rally's is still looking to add locations along the east coast, the midwest and southwest regions, and you can see a map of markets here. The current initial investment is $96,414.

Franchise 500 rank: 140

CEO: Enrique Silva

Business headquarters: Tampa, Fla.

Franchising since: 1989

Initial investment: $96,414 to $1,501,265

Initial franchise fee: $30,000

New units in 2017: 18 units (2.2 percent)

Training: 160 to 220 hours on the job, 32 to 40 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media

Related: Just How Much Does It Cost to Own a Fast-Food Franchise?

 

5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures

Champs Chicken

Champs Chicken
Image credit: Champs Chicken

Like Chester's, Champs Chicken is a low-cost chicken restaurant. You can potentially invest in a Champs Chicken for as little as $9,000 (which, technically, makes it a little too affordable for this five-figure slideshow). 

Champs Chicken only started franchising in 2013, so it might not be as well known as some other entities on this list, but there are already 397 locations in the U.S..

Franchise 500 rank: 281

CEO: Shawn Burcham

Business headquarters: Holts Summit, Mo.

Franchising since: 2013

Initial investment: $9,000 to $349,000

New units in 2016: -21 units (5.0 percent)

Training: 28+ hours on the job

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, social media, email marketing

Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less

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  • 5 Affordable Restaurant Franchises You Can Start for 5 Figures
  • 1. Firehouse Subs
  • 2. Baskin-Robbins
  • 3. Chester's
  • 4. Checkers and Rally's
  • 5. Champs Chicken
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