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Franchises > Franchise 500

5 Restaurant Franchises That Will Cost You at Least $1 Million

These five franchises each cost at least seven figures, but many see them as a worthwhile investment.
juststock | Getty Images

At Entrepreneur, we know not everyone has a million dollars to invest. That’s why we share low-cost franchise ideas, including franchises you can start for $25,000 or less.

But while these franchises are affordable, they aren’t necessarily better investments than the more expensive ones. Some entrepreneurs are willing to pay higher upfront costs to buy a well-established franchise with an excellent reputation, strong support and higher return on investment. And many of these expensive franchises are in the world of food.

Check out the five restaurant franchises on our Entrepreneur Franchise 500 that will cost you at least a million dollars.

Related: The 7 Cheapest Franchises on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500 List

5 Restaurant Franchises That Will Cost You at Least $1 Million

McDonald's

It probably shouldn’t too much of a shock that McDonald's is the No. 1 franchise in this year’s Franchise 500, given that it finished second last year. The company has been franchising for more than 60 years and yet adds new units every single year. Right now, there are more than 37,000 McDonald’s restaurants across the world, including over 13,000 U.S. franchises. That’s exactly the sort of long-term success we look for in our rankings.

CEO: Steve Easterbrook

Business headquarters: Oak Brook, Ill.

Franchising since: 1955

Initial investment: $1,008,000 to $2,214,080

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units in 2017: 507 units (1.4 percent)

Training: 6 to 24 months on the job, 75 hours in the classroom

Marketing support: Co-op advertising, ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, loyalty program/app

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

5 Restaurant Franchises That Will Cost You at Least $1 Million

Sonic

With 3,557 locations as of the start of 2017, Sonic has less than a 10th the number of units as McDonald’s, but the drive-in burger and ice cream joint has been franchising for almost as long. The company, which ranks No. 6 on the Franchise 500, first opened in 1953 as Top Hat Drive-In but began franchising in 1959 under the Sonic Drive-In name.

There is still plenty of franchise ability left in the U.S., which you can find on the Sonic franchising page.

CEO: Cliff Hudson

Business headquarters: Oklahoma City

Franchising since: 1959

Initial investment: $1,073,000 to $2,361,500

Initial franchise fee: $45,000

New units in 2017: 31 units (0.9 percent)

Training: 400 hours on the job, 24 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: Just How Much Does It Cost to Own a Fast-Food Franchise?

5 Restaurant Franchises That Will Cost You at Least $1 Million

Hardee's

Hardee's is the eastern half of the CKE Restaurants Holdings, with Carl’s Jr. restaurants taking control of the western half. So, it should come as no surprise that both restaurant franchises sell for about the same amount. However, Hardee’s gets the slight edge ahead of its western counterpart on the Franchise 500 list (it’s ranked No. 9, and Carl’s Jr. is No. 15) in part due to the fact that it has been franchising for 22 years longer.

CEO: Jason Marker

Business headquarters: Franklin, Tenn.

Franchising since: 1962

Initial investment: $1,431,500 to $1,949,000

Initial franchise fee: $25,000 to $35,000

New units in 2017: 80 units (3.7 percent)

Training: 80 hours on the job, 32 hours in the classroom (eight weeks of additional management training and at grand opening)

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 Burger Franchises You Can Buy (and How Much They Cost)

5 Restaurant Franchises That Will Cost You at Least $1 Million

Culver's

Culver’s is the newest business on this list and has the fewest number of units, with around 631 at the start of 2017. Part of that has to do with its cost -- putting up $4.2 million as a startup cost for one restaurant is intimidating -- but that also means there are plenty of opportunities for franchising left.

You can find a map of where Culver’s (No. 14 on the Franchise 500) is looking to expand here.

CEO: Joseph Kross

Business headquarters: Prairie du Sac, Wis.

Franchising since: 1988

Initial investment: $1,815,000 to $4,273,000

Initial franchise fee: $55,000

New units in 2017: 57 units (9.9 percent)

Training: 550 hours on the job, 172 hours in the classroom

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

Related: The 5 Best Pizza Franchises You Can Start Today

5 Restaurant Franchises That Will Cost You at Least $1 Million

Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr might be the last entry on this list, but it’s no slouch. The western half of CKE ranks No. 15 overall on the Franchise 500 list. As of the start of 2017, there were over 1,600 Carl’s Jr. units across the globe, up 38 percent from 2008.

CEO: Jason Marker

Business headquarters: Franklin, Tenn.

Franchising since: 1984

Initial investment: $1,431,500 to $1,949,000

Initial franchise fee: $25,000 to $35,000

New units in 2017: 71 units (4.6 percent)

Training: 80 hours on the job, 32 hours in the classroom (12 weeks of additional management training and at grand opening)

Marketing support: Ad templates, national media, regional advertising, social media, email marketing, loyalty program/app

Related: The 10 Best Franchises to Open in 2018