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3 Chick-fil-A Franchise Alternatives for 2023

The chicken sandwich concept is a favorite of many, but getting in as a franchisee is no easy feat.

Chick-fil-A is a fried chicken favorite nationwide, and it is the apple of many prospective franchisees’ eyes. However, franchising with the brand is anything but easy. Though the initial investment is incredibly low, the selection process is rigorous. The corporate team exercises a substantial amount of control over each location. Also, franchisees are firmly restricted to ownership of a single location; there are no multi-unit deals.

The brand’s website is clear about the fact that the investment is one of a lifetime. 

“Franchising is not an opportunity for passive financial investment, working from the sidelines, or adding to a portfolio of business ventures,” it says. “This business opportunity is a hands-on, life investment to own and operate a quick-service restaurant. It often requires long hours and leading a team of mostly young, hourly-paid employees. It’s hard work—but it’s exceedingly rewarding.”

Due to the brand's high selectivity (under 1%), getting into an Ivy League school is easier than joining this company franchise. Many dejected franchisees are left looking elsewhere.

Here are three chicken concepts to consider in 2023 if the Chick-fil-A challenge isn’t for you.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Popeyes is a spicy, New Orleans-style chicken concept that offers all of the same staples as Chick-fil-A—fried chicken sandwiches, tenders and fries are all on the menu.

The initial investment required to open a Popeyes restaurant ranges from $1,086,000 to $3,545,800, including a $50,000 franchise fee. As of the brand’s 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), the average annual sales across all franchised restaurants were $1,871,018, indicating that the concept offers a strong potential for return on investment.

Layne’s Chicken Fingers*

Layne’s Chicken Fingers is a Texas-based chicken concept that has developed what some may call a cult, following in the College Station area. The concept quickly became known for its friendly service, welcoming atmosphere and delicious food.

“Chicken will always be in demand; that’s why the market and the segment have been exploding,” said COO Samir Wattar. “There are a lot of competitors, and everybody brings something to the table. What we bring to the table is our history. There’s something to be said about ‘Texas-born and breaded.’”

The initial investment required to open a Layne’s restaurant is $656,000–$1,280,500, depending on the buildout model.


Zaxby’s is a fried chicken franchise that offers the best of Chick-fil-A—fried chicken sandwiches, tenders, salads and fries—while bringing in other classics like Texas toast, bone-in wings, coleslaw and cheese curds.

The initial investment required to open a Zaxby’s restaurant is $501,700–$950,200. Prospective franchisees must also have a minimum net worth of $1,000,000, liquidity of $500,000, the ability to pass background checks and a “willingness to make a commitment to this venture within 60–90 days of signing a license agreement.”

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.