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Top 10 Cheapest Food Franchises To Open With Low Start-Up Costs

Many people dream of becoming their own boss and owning a successful business. But they don’t know where to start. The initial hardships of starting a business prove to be quite a deterrent.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit but don’t want to build your business from the ground up, consider investing in the cheapest food franchises to open. These are one of the easiest ways to break into the industry without facing the challenges of starting from scratch. 

Top 10 Cheapest Food Franchises To Open

different-types-of-franchises-guideBelow are the top food franchises that you can start on a shoestring budget:

1. Dickey’s Barbeque Pit

This franchise offers a barbecue restaurant concept that was established in 1941. Dickey’s Barbeque Pit has more than 500 locations across 43 states. The average total investment for a Dickey’s Barbeque Pit franchise is between $256,360 – $323,789.

But you will also need $100,000 in liquid capital and a net worth of $300,000 to start your first Dickey’s Barbeque Pit. The best thing about starting Dickey’s franchise is that you don’t need any prior experience in the restaurant industry to start Dickey’s.

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Initial Franchise Fee

$15,000 to $20,000

Total Initial Investment

$256,360 to  $323,789

Franchise Information (Link)

https://franchise.dickeys.com/

2. Subway

If you want to operate your business while still enjoying the support of the world’s largest restaurant chain, then you should explore Subway. It’s not just one of the cheapest food franchises to open but also one of the best food franchises to own.

The total investment required to open a Subway franchise is between $207,050 and $476,900. And the initial franchise fee for a Subway is  $15,000. They also offer a training program even before you open your restaurant.

Besides, they offer continuous online courses for you and your team. Not just that, they also have a Business Development Agent system that provides local support for your business.

Initial Franchise Fee

$15,000

Total Initial Investment

 $207,050 to $476,900

Franchise Information (Link)

https://www.subway.com/en-US/OwnAFranchise

3. Baskin-Robbins

baskin robbins

Baskin-Robbins is one of the cheapest ice cream franchises you can get into. The average total investment for a Baskin-Robbins ice cream franchise is between $94,350 to $402,200. The initial franchise fee for a Baskin-Robbins franchise is $25,000, with a continuing royalty fee of 5.5%. You will also require a net worth of $200,000 and cash liquidity of $100,000.

The great thing about Baskin-Robbins is that they offer several support services to grow your franchise. These support services include training, field operations, marketing, and more. Plus, some special developmental incentives for military veterans and new store owners reduce these costs significantly.

Initial Franchise Fee

$25,000

Total Initial Investment

 $94,350 to $402,200

Franchise Information (Link)

https://www.baskinrobbinsfranchising.com/

4. Scooter’s Coffee

Scooter’s Coffee is a drive-thru and coffee café franchise established in 1998. It now has 500+ locations in 30 states across the United States. The average total investment for a Scooter’s Coffee franchise is between $794,000 – $1,264,500. The initial franchise fee for Scooter’s Coffee is  $40,000, with a continuing royalty fee of 6%.

You will also need a minimum net worth of $500,000 and liquidity of $200,000. But the great thing about Scooter’s Coffee is that they offer several financing options to help you get started. These financing options can help reduce the money you need to start your franchise.

Initial Franchise Fee

$40,000

Total Initial Investment

$794,000 – $1,264,500

Franchise Information (Link)

https://franchising.scooterscoffee.com/

5. Domino’s Pizza

dominos

Domino’s Pizza is one of the world’s largest and cheapest pizza franchises. It was established in 1960 and has more than 16,000 locations in 85 countries. The average total investment for a Domino’s Pizza franchise in the US is between $119,600 – $461,200.

The initial franchise fee for a Domino’s Pizza franchise is $25,000, with a continuing royalty fee of 5.5%. You will also need a minimum net worth of $100,000 and liquidity of $100,000. Domino’s Pizza offers several support services to its franchisees, including training, marketing, and operations support.

Initial Franchise Fee

 $25,000

Total Initial Investment

$119,600 – $461,200

Franchise Information (Link)

https://biz.dominos.com/about-us/franchising/

6. Mucho Burrito

Mucho Burrito is an authentic Mexican fast-casual restaurant and one of the cheapest franchises to open. It was established in 2006 and has more than 200 locations across Canada and the United States. The average total investment for a Mucho Burrito franchise is between $282,500 – $649,500.

The initial franchise fee for a Mucho Burrito is $25,000, with a continuing royalty fee of 6%. You will also need a minimum net worth of $400,000 and liquidity of $150,000. Interestingly, Mucho Burrito has relationships with third-party financial sources that offer financing services to cover franchise fees, startup costs, equipment costs, inventory costs, accounts receivables, and payroll costs.

Initial Franchise Fee

$25,000

Total Initial Investment

$282,500 – $649,500

Franchise Information (Link)

https://muchoburritofranchise.com/

7. Chester’s

If you are looking for cheap food franchises to open, Chester’s should be on top of your list. It’s the world’s leading chicken QSR concept as of this writing. It has over 1300 active service locations and 50 years of business experience.

The average total investment for Chester’s franchise is between $12,385 – $277,313. The initial franchise fee for Chester’s franchise is up to $3,000 with no continuing royalty fee. Chester’s offers several support services to their franchisees, including 30 hours worth of in-class training along with on-job training.

Besides, their operations manager is always available to help you with any business matter. So, consider Chester’s if you’re looking for cheap food franchises under $5,000. 

Initial Franchise Fee

Up to $3,000

Total Initial Investment

$12,385 – $277,313

Franchise Information (Link)

https://www.chesterschicken.com/franchise-with-us

8. Planet Smoothie 

The smoothie market is growing, and Planet Smoothie stands out with a menu built around healthy and natural ingredients. It has two franchise options: the traditional Planet Smoothie model and the non-traditional Planet Smoothie model.

The standard Planet Smoothie model has an initial franchise fee of $12,000 – $25,000 and a total investment requirement of $193,150 – $421,500. On the other hand, the non-traditional model has an initial franchise fee of $16,000 to $20,000 and requires a total investment of $81,150 – $293,500, depending on your location.

The best thing about Planet Smoothie is that it has a flexible footprint. You can customize it to fit your location, such as a small kiosk in an office building, convenience store, street, or pedestrian mall. Etc.

Initial Franchise Fee

  • Traditional – $12,000 – $25,000
  • Non Traditional – $16,000 to $20,000

Total Initial Investment 

  • Traditional – $193,150 – $421,500
  • Non Traditional – $81,150 – $293,500

Franchise Information (Link)

https://planetsmoothiefranchise.com/

9. Quiznos

Quiznos is another affordable franchise opportunity in the multi-billion dollar food franchise industry. It’s a fast-casual sandwich chain that was established in 1981. It now has more than 5,000 locations in 40+ countries around the world.

The average total investment for a Quiznos franchise is between $216,100 to $500,000. The initial franchise fee for a Quiznos franchise is up to $10,000, with a continuing royalty fee of 5%. The royalty fee can be reduced if you operate under their multi-unit or incentive program. You will also need a minimum net worth of $70,000 and 100,000 in liquid capital.

Initial Franchise Fee

Up to $10,000

Total Initial Investment

$216,100 to $500,000

Franchise Information (Link)

https://ownaquiznos.com/

10. Cold Stone Creamery

coldstone

If you’re looking for food franchises under 100k, consider Cold Stone Creamery. Cold Stone Creamery is a popular ice cream outlet and one of the cheapest food franchises to open. It was founded in 1988 and offers an affordable frozen-treat franchise concept, which has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs realize their dream.

It now has outlets in more than 1,500 locations in 32 countries. The average total investment for a Cold Stone Creamery franchise is between $53,200 to $580,650. The initial franchise fee for a Cold Stone Creamery franchise is anywhere from $12,000 to $27,000, with a continuing royalty fee of 6%. The biggest requirement for this franchise is that you must have a minimum net worth of $250,000 and liquidity of at least $120,000. 

Initial Franchise Fee

$12,000 to $27,000

Total Initial Investment

$53,200 to $580,650

Franchise Information (Link)

https://coldstonecreameryfranchise.com/

Final Thoughts

Opening a food franchise doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of cheap food franchises out there that you can start with a small investment. Just remember to choose the right franchise, understand the franchisor’s requirements, avoid common franchise mistakes, and have a solid business plan. With the right franchise opportunity, you can be on your way to owning a successful business. Good luck!

Cheapest Food Franchises To Open – FAQs 

What Is The Cheapest Food Franchise To Start?

If you are wondering what is the least expensive food franchise to open, the answer is…. No! It’s not Chick-fil-A… it’s Chester’s. That’s right! Chester’s is currently the cheapest food franchise to start.

It has an initial license requirement of up to $3000, and you can start your business for a total investment of just $12,000. Subway and Quiznos are second and third options in the cheap fast food franchises to open category. 

What Is The Easiest Fast-Food Franchise To Own?

Chester’s is currently the easiest fast-food franchise to open. While this position was held by Chick-fil-A in the past, Chester’s replaced it in 2022 just because of it’s low-cost and less competition. Opening a Chick-fil-A franchise has become very difficult now as they allow only 70-80 franchises in a year. 

What Cheapest Fast Food Franchise Makes The Most Money?

With its $10.8 billion system-wide sales in the US, Subway is currently the cheapest fast food franchise that makes the most money. While McDonald’s and Starbucks make more sales than Subway, they are certainly not the cheapest franchise options in the industry. 

What Are The Most Profitable Fast Food Franchises To Own?

Chick-fil-A and Shake Shack are currently the most profitable franchises to own in the fast food industry. An average Chick-fil-A location averages 4.517 million dollars a year in profits. In contrast, an average Shake Shack location earns approximately 4.214 million in profits. However, both of these franchises are a bit expensive to open. 

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