Restaurant Franchises

A Complete Guide to the Cheapest Restaurant Franchises of 2024

cheapest restaurant franchises

Did you know that franchises came about in the Middle Ages? Franchises today have evolved a lot since then, and they are far more accessible. Getting involved with a restaurant franchise is a great way to make a living.

It is also a unique business path that you can enjoy. But what are the cheapest restaurant franchises out there? What should you know about owning a franchise?

How can you know that it’s the right option for you? Keep reading and learn more about how it works below. 

Franchise Fees You Need To Consider

All types of franchises come with fees. It is important to understand these fees before you consider owning a franchise. These fees may differ depending on what kind of franchise you have. 

But in the restaurant industry, many of these fees are the same. You will first need to consider the initial franchise fee. This cost is impossible to avoid, but it is the fee that will pave the way for your franchising future. 

This is a lump sum fee that you have to give to the franchisor. It is necessary to make this payment after you sign the contract that puts you on board with the franchise. This contrast shows that you have a relationship with the franchise and that you will receive certain services.

These services may include employee training, marketing support, and so on. This ensures that the franchise will be ready to go once you get started. This is one of the most expensive fees that you will have to face when buying a franchise. 

The good news is that it is a one-time fee. Some restaurant franchises have more expensive initial fees than others. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to be familiar with these fees before you sign any contracts. 

You also have to think about royalty fees. You need to pay these fees monthly, and the payments go to the franchisor.

How It Works

The percentage of the royalty fees will depend on the franchise you’re involved with. 

Some may be as low as 4% per month while others may be 12% or more. You may also have to deal with advertising fees. Advertising is an important part of keeping restaurant franchises afloat. 

If you don’t constantly keep ads running, the public will forget about the restaurant. They will be more likely to go to a competitor’s restaurant. If you want to avoid this problem, you’ll have to spend extra on advertising fees. 

These fees are lower than royalty fees. This ensures that you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to keep the franchise up and running. You will also have to deal with unavoidable and ongoing costs. 

These include utilities, monthly rent, cooking supplies, employee payments, and so on. All of these can add up, so it’s important to keep track of where all the money is going. Some franchises are very expensive to keep running, while others are much more manageable. 

Which restaurant franchises are the best options for those who don’t want to spend too much money? 

Cheapest Restaurant Franchises Examples

Baskin Robbins

If you’re looking for some of the cheapest restaurant franchises on the market, take a look at Baskin Robbins. Baskin Robbins is one of the kingpins of the ice cream industry. When people think of an ice cream shop, they’ll likely think of this franchise. 

It isn’t just a popular shop in the United States either. There are more than 7,700 Baskin Robbins across 52 countries worldwide. This immense popularity is already a great reason to get involved with this franchise. 

But the initial franchise fee is attractive as well. It is one of the lowest initial fees you will ever come across when getting involved with a franchise. This makes it a great option if you are afraid of high upfront costs. 

Many people don’t expect Baskin Robbins to have such a low initial fee since they are such a famous ice cream shop. The reason why it’s so affordable is that it is a very easy franchise to run. Many of the processes are straightforward to understand.

The monthly royalty fees are low for the same reason. The royalty fees for this franchise are drastically lower than most other franchises that are equally as popular. The royalty percentage is a very agreeable 4.5%. 

This low percentage allows you to have more freedom to spend money on other aspects of the franchise. There is also a flat advertising fee. This is great news if you plan on doing a lot of advertising. 

But you may not get all the bang for your buck if you run ads in small quantities. 

Cold Stone Creamery

This ice cream shop is on par with Bakin Robbins in that it is affordable and a very popular ice cream joint. In recent years, it has been growing like crazy around the world. New Cold Stone Creamery shops are popping up on every corner.

Similar to Baskin Robbins, the initial franchise fee is very low. This ensures that you don’t pour your whole budget into the franchise at once. The royalty fees aren’t that bad either. Making these two options the perfect option for someone looking for the cheapest restaurant franchises available.

It is slightly higher than the fee from Baskin Robbins at 6%. The reason why the prices are so low is that every Cold Stone Creamery is very small. There is no need to hire many employees or manage many things at once. 

The simplicity of the franchise keeps the prices low. This makes it a great option for beginners who have never dealt with a restaurant franchise before.


This restaurant has more than 2,000 branches strewn across the world, most of them in the United States. It is famous for its high-quality chicken sandwiches. When most people think of delicious, tender chicken, they think of Chick-Fil-A

It is also known for its waffle fries and many other fantastic meals. The initial franchise fee is around $10,000. While this may sound like a lot, this is average for the franchising industry. 

It’s a good deal considering that this restaurant is one of the leading members of the chicken industry. This franchise is also very easy to manage, especially on the marketing side of things. This is because you won’t be dealing with franchise marketing or operations. 

These factors are managed at a corporate level. This ensures that you can focus on more pressing matters. You also don’t need to spend a lot of money on cooking equipment since the menu is very simple.

Chester’s Chicken

This restaurant has 1200 locations spread across the United States. It is a rising star in the chicken industry and a close competitor for Chick-Fil-A. It has been around since 1952 and has been producing high-quality food ever since. 

This restaurant may also be found in gas stations, paired with other restaurants, and so on. The benefit of this option is that the initial franchise fee is low. There are also minimum requirements to get involved. 

Some franchises have strict requirements relating to a minimum net worth, but Chester’s Chicken is the exception. Another bonus is that you won’t have to deal with royalty fees because there aren’t any.

This allows you to focus on other important matters. 

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs is one of the most well-known sub sandwich restaurants in the US. Its branches use high-quality ingredients to create a variety of delicious sandwiches. These sandwiches are also easy to enjoy on the go for those who are always in a hurry. 

It has very low start-up costs and initial fees. This allows you to use your funds to better promote the franchise. The monthly royalty fees are 6%, which is lower than most other restaurant franchises. 

The downside is that you need to satisfy certain financial requirements. You need to fit a certain net worth range as well as liquid asset requirements. Without fulfilling these requirements, it might not be possible for you to get involved with Firehouse Subs.


Quiznos is another popular restaurant that provides a variety of sandwich options. It has been around since the early 1980s and has more than 5,000 restaurants in the United States. Quiznos franchises also make it as easy as possible for you to get started. 

Quiznos restaurants are very small, so the upfront fees are low to reflect this. You won’t need to pay much rent either. There also won’t be any need to hire a large number of employees.

All this will keep the cost of running a Quizno’s very low. The monthly royalty fee is only 5% of gross sales. The advertising fee is 2% of this cost as well. 

There are very few requirements to get started with a Quiznos restaurant. This makes it a more accessible option for those who are just entering the franchise business.

Taco Bell

Everyone knows about Taco Bell. It is one of the leading fast-food chains in the United States. It’s known for its delicious tacos, crunch wraps, and nachos, among other meals. 

There are more than 7,000 locations worldwide. Taco Bell has also been in business for 60 years. This shows that it knows what it’s doing and how to keep its customers happy. 

The downside of a Taco Bell franchise is that it has a higher initial fee than most other options on this list. This can make it difficult for some people to get started with this franchise. But this upfront cost is counteracted by other fees, which are much lower. 

You also get plenty of support when you opt for this franchise. Another downside is that it has strict requirements, which include your net worth and liquid assets. If you can’t satisfy these requirements or deal with the high upfront cost, this franchise may not be a good option for you.

But if you can get past this barrier, you’ll be in luck. Taco Bell franchises follow specific business models that make it easy to increase profits. The menu also uses a limited number of ingredients. 

This ensures that ingredient costs don’t go through the roof. 

Mucho Burrito

Mucho Burrito originated in Canada, but it has been growing in the United States in recent years. While it’s still new in the US, it is a very promising option for those who are entering the franchise business. 

Most of everything involved in this franchise is affordable, including advertising costs. The royalties are around 6%, which is around average. 

Papa John’s

Papa John’s is an immensely popular pizza joint. This business is very particular about who they pick for their franchise. 

You’ll need to fit requirements for net worth, commitment, and so on. The initial fees are very low, and the royalties are around 5%. This makes the franchise easy to run, as long as you can pass the requirements.

Scooter’s Coffee

There are around 500 Scooter’s Coffee shops across the United States. Their coffee is fantastic, and this franchise is growing fast. 

The initial fee is average, as are the royalties at 6%. But this franchise has plenty of support and many marketing strategies to help it stay successful. This ensures that you won’t have to do much of the heavy lifting. 

These shops aren’t very large either, which makes them easier to manage.

All About the Cheapest Restaurant Franchises

Getting involved with some of the cheapest restaurant franchises is a good way to jumpstart your career. Some popular options include Taco Bell, Papa John’s, and Baskin Robbins. All these options have affordable upfront costs and royalties to help you get started. 

Are you ready to learn more about restaurant franchising? Check out more franchising opportunities here

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