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Franchise Deep Dive: First Watch Franchise Costs, Fees, Profit and Data

First Watch has become one of the largest privately owned breakfast chains in America, even though it isn’t currently offering franchise opportunities.

By Jeff DwyerStaff Writer
7:07AM 04/04/23

LAST UPDATED: February 24, 2022
REPORTED COST TO GET IN: $899,800 to $1,522,000 

First Watch is one of the largest privately owned daytime-only restaurant chains in America. It was founded in 1983 in Pacific Grove, California, though the brand’s headquarters has since been moved to Bradenton, Florida.

The breakfast and lunch concept is open seven days a week from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm. The brand serves classic breakfast items, as well as its specialty offerings like the Quinoa Power Bowl, Avocado Toast, Chickichanga and more. In 2019, First Watch opened its first fast-casual all-day restaurant called Sun & Fork in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to the First Watch investor page, the brand is growing through a company-owned model and is not currently offering franchising opportunities. The concept is majority owned by private equity firm Advent International.

How Many First Watch Locations Are There?

There are 474 First Watch restaurants across 29 states. Under its belt, the brand has 366 company-owned locations and 108 franchised locations. The brand began offering franchises in 2008, but as of 2023, is not signing on new franchisees.

What Is the First Watch Business Model?

CEO Chris Tomasso says First Watch offers a compelling business model that helps its restaurant owners scale their business thanks to their generous food costs, hours of operation and restaurant conversion program.

Tomasso says the brand’s food costs are “some of the best in the industry.” And because First Watch is only open during the day, they’re able to focus on offering customers the best experience possible while providing employees and staff with a good work/life balance.  As a result of the hours of operation, the brand has been able to hire and retain quality team members.

Another contributing factor in the brand’s success has been its model to convert other restaurant chains into First Watch locations. In 2014, the brand purchased the Arizona-based “The Good Egg” and converted 18 of them into First Watch restaurants. Just a few years later, the brand also bought the Colorado-based “Egg & I” restaurant chain and converted more than 20 of those restaurants.

Before opening a new location, the leadership team goes through a step-by-step real estate selection model that monitors factors like population growth rate, household incomes, traffic, visibility and access.

How Much Can First Watch Franchise Owners Make?

First Watch does not provide information about a franchisee’s financial performance, but according to the brand’s investor page, First Watch saw same-restaurant sales growth by roughly 14.5% in the 2022 fiscal year.

What Sort of Training Is Offered to Franchisees?

CEO Chris Tomasso says the brand has put a heavy focus on strengthening its training program and reinforcing its culture. As part of that, they bring every new manager to Sarasota, Florida for “cultural immersion” training. When the brand was offering franchises, they worked with each new owner on everything from site selection and lease negotiation to ongoing marketing support and overall operations.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a First Watch?

The initial investment required to begin the operation of a First Watch location can range from $899,800 to $1,522,000.

Ongoing Costs and Fees include:

  •  Royalty Fee: 4% of gross sales once a month
  •  System Fund Contributions: Up to 3% monthly

What Is the Franchise Fee for First Watch?

The initial franchise fee required to open a First Watch location was $40,000.

Who is the Leadership of First Watch?

What Helpful Articles Can I Read to Learn More About First Watch?

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