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B-F-Franchising: 4 Franchise Brands Started by Best Friends

Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? These franchisors have used their friendships as a catalyst for creating businesses that resonate with millions of people worldwide.

Franchise brands often start with a dream, a shared vision between founders who envision creating something remarkable together. When those founders happen to be friends, their synergy can lead to extraordinary success stories and can inspire franchisees to reach for their entrepreneurial dreams as well. In honor of National Best Friends Day, here are four franchise brands that were founded by best friends, showcasing how their friendships fueled their entrepreneurial spirit and led to the creation of popular and enduring businesses.

Ben & Jerry's

Unit Count: 558
Investment Range: $112,700 - $474,300
Franchise Costs, Fees, Profit and Data

In 1978, childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to turn their dream of running a food business into reality. With a modest $12,000 investment — $4,000 of which was borrowed — they opened their first ice cream scoop shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Their commitment to quality ingredients, coupled with innovative and whimsically named flavors like "Cherry Garcia" and "Chunky Monkey," quickly made Ben & Jerry's a local favorite. The brand's commitment to social and environmental causes further distinguished it in the marketplace. 

Today, as a franchise, Ben & Jerry's operates globally, retaining its core values and community-focused ethos, a testament to the power of friendship and shared values in building a brand that stands the test of time.

Modern Market Eatery

Unit Count: 31
Investment Range: $928,500 and $1,468,750
Franchise Cost, Fees, Profit and Data

Modern Market Eatery is a fast-casual restaurant franchise that distinguishes itself by blending chef-inspired menus with sustainable practices, all while delivering meals with the speed and efficiency expected of quick-service restaurants (QSRs). 

The inception of Modern Market traces back to the unique journey of its founder, Rob McColgan, whose career transitioned from the high-stakes world of trading and investment management at Goldman Sachs to pioneering in the restaurant industry. Together with Anthony Pigliacampo, his best friend in high school, McColgan embarked on a mission to reimagine fast food with a restaurant that could offer healthy, clean, and satisfying meals. 

"During my career in finance, I maintained close contact with my high school best friend, who was engaged in engineering work in California,” McColgan told 1851 Franchise. “We had always talked about collaborating on a project together, but it had to be something we were passionate about personally. He consulted for major restaurant companies, and we often discussed the stark contrast between the U.S. fast food culture and dining experiences abroad. We frequently dined at local, healthy bistros and cafes, leading us to ponder: what would our ideal everyday restaurant look like?"

In 2008, fueled by their shared passion and vision, McColgan and Pigliacampo left their careers to lay the groundwork for what would become the first Modern Market in Boulder, Colorado, in 2009. Currently, Modern Market operates 31 restaurants across the country.

Shuckin’ Shack

Unit Count: 19 
Investment Range: $471,750 - $1,416,420
Franchise Costs, Fees, Profit and Data

In 2007, friends Matt Piccinin and Sean Cook identified the need for an atmosphere-rich establishment that served fresh seafood in their sleepy beach town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The town had no oyster bars to speak of and only calabash-style seafood, meaning fried and heavy. Piccinin and Cook knew that a concept that served up fresh oysters on the half-shell and other high-quality seafood would flourish in the area; said simply, the market determined itself.

Enter Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar. The brand boasts a menu packed with unpretentious offerings like its bestselling lobster roll topped with a spicy mustard remoulade, cold crab dip, sharkbite shrimp, a fresh oyster sampler and bursting buckets of steaming shrimp, corn and clams for the truly hungry. The oceanfront-inspired menu rounds out with a wide selection of craft beer and cheers-worthy cocktails.

Since Shuckin’ Shuck began franchising in 2014, the brand has grown to 19 locations in six states.


Unit Count: 7,682
Investment Range: $293,840 and $636,360
Franchise Costs, Fees, Profit and Data

Another tale of ice cream empire-building friendship, Baskin-Robbins was founded by brother-in-laws Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins in 1945. The duo shared a passion for innovative ice cream flavors and a desire to create a fun, family-friendly ice cream experience. Starting from separate ventures, they combined their shops into the Baskin-Robbins brand in 1953, introducing the concept of "31 flavors" — one for each day of the month. This idea was revolutionary at the time and played a significant role in their success. 

Today, Baskin-Robbins has since become the world's largest ice cream franchise, with locations in over 50 countries, all thanks to the visionary partnership of two best friends.

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