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The Top 25 Emerging Restaurant Franchises for 2023

Invest in these innovative restaurant brands that have around 50 units or less.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
Updated 10:10AM 12/22/22

Restaurants are one of the biggest franchise segments today. 

With so many choices out there, it can be hard to pin down exactly what franchise opportunity to choose. Emerging concepts, or those with around 50 units or less, can be a great place to start. They give franchisees an opportunity to be an early investor in a growing brand. 

To help you narrow it down, here are our picks for the top emerging restaurant franchises for 2023: 


Investment Range: $215,500–$781,500
Startup Costs: $215,500–$781,500
Unit Count: 2

TaKorean is a quick-service concept inspired by Korean and Latin street food. Its “build your own” bowl and taco concept allows guests to create memorable meals catered to their specific preferences by combining the restaurant’s colorful, wholesome, made-fresh ingredients. 

"After 12 years, it feels like our brand and concept here at TaKorean is stronger than ever,” said Mike Lenard, CEO & Founder. “The confluence of Korean flavors and our simple and effective format continues to gain popularity year after year.” 

Atomic Wings*

Investment Range: $155,900–$338,500
Startup Costs: $155,900–$338,500
Unit Count: 14

Atomic Wings was created in 1989 with a mission to share authentic New York-style Buffalo wings with the world. Now, with dozens of restaurants open in the U.S., Atomic Wings is setting its sights on nationwide growth.

Chop Stop

Investment Range: $375,000–$699,000
Startup Costs: $375,000–$699,000
Unit Count: 25

Chop Stop is a fast-growing, low-cost, chopped salad concept with 11 years of sales history and regional brand recognition throughout Southern California. Patented chopping processes allow the brand to serve a customized salad in about three minutes. 


Investment Range: $298,924–$420,100
Startup Costs: $298,924–$420,100
Unit Count: 1

In 2002, Grégoire opened its doors as the first fine-fast-casual restaurant concept that serves gourmet salad and sandwich dishes, as well as its famous potato puffs and scratch-daily fresh-made french fries, all served in a custom-designed take-out box.

Layne’s Chicken Fingers*

Investment Range: $656,000–$1,280,500
Startup Costs: $656,000–$1,280,500
Unit Count: 8

Founded in 1994 in College Station, Layne’s Chicken Fingers quickly became known for its friendly service, iconic chicken fingers and secret sauce. Now, the company is bringing Layne’s Soon to be Famous™ Chicken Fingers to the rest of the world.

Ziggi’s Coffee

Investment Range: $386,000–$1,500,000
Startup Costs: $386,000–$1,500,000
Unit Count: 55

Ziggi’s Coffee started as a small coffee shop in downtown Longmont, Colorado, in 2004. It has since grown to multiple drive-thrus and coffeehouse locations across the United States. 

Famous Toastery

Investment Range: $575,500–$999,500 
Startup Costs: $575,500–$999,500 
Unit Count: 25+

Charlotte, N.C.-based Famous Toastery began in 2005 in a small house-turned-restaurant where best friends Brian Burchill and Robert Maynard opened their first breakfast spot. In 2013, Famous Toastery evolved into a franchise system and now has over 25 locations. 

Jinya Ramen Bar 

Investment Range: $1,400,000–$3,100,000
Startup Costs: $1,400,000–$3,100,000}
Unit Count: 45

JINYA Ramen Bar focuses on three values: delicious food at reasonable prices that is accessible to all. The franchise is known for its slow-cooked approach to ramen, made from broths simmered for 20 hours in-house. 

Epic Wings 

Investment Range: $454,000–1,300,000
Startup Costs: $454,000–1,300,000
Unit Count: 29

Epic Wings started when the Sacco Family packed up their car and headed from New York to California. They claim to be the first to bring buffalo wings to the West Coast by opening Epic Wings, formerly known as Wings N’ Things, in San Diego, California, in 1982. 

Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar

Investment Range: $453,000–1,128,252
Startup Costs: $453,000–1,128,252
Unit Count: 18

Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar grew out of a vision for a local establishment that would appeal to families of all ages. A place where friends and family can enjoy fresh, delicious seafood and creative cocktails in an environment that exudes relaxation. 

Straw Hat Pizza 

Investment Range: $145,000–$1,100,000
Startup Costs: $145,000–$1,100,000
Unit Count: 29

Straw Hat Pizza has been around since 1959. It recently got a new look, new buildings, colors and logos, but it has retained its commitment to guest service, quality, cleanliness, and its California crust pizza. 

Bar-B-Cutie Smokehouse 

Investment Range: $664,000–$2,100,000
Startup Costs: $664,000–$2,100,000
Unit Count: 12

Bar-B-Cutie SmokeHouse franchise is a family-owned BBQ business with more than 70 years of experience in the industry. Since its founding in 1950, Bar-B-Cutie has served up its BBQ to millions of customers in the American South.

Glory Days Grill

Investment Range: $1,700,000–$2,500,000
Startup Costs: $1,700,000–$2,500,000
Unit Count: 39

Glory Days is a sports-themed family dining concept that opened in 1996 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The American grill and bar combines a menu of freshly prepared appetizers, entrees and sandwiches with entertainment that appeals to all ages.

Shakey's Pizza Parlor

Investment Range: $624,000–$2,204,500
Startup Costs: $624,000–$2,204,500
Unit Count: 50

Founded in 1954, Shakey’s Pizza Parlor was the first franchise pizza chain in the United States. Currently, the stores can be found in the states of California and Washington as well as in the Philippines. The chain has classic pizzas, as well as fried chicken and its “famous” Mojo potatoes.

Broken Yolk Cafe

Investment Range: $454,900–$1,185,000
Startup Costs: $454,900–$1,185,000
Unit Count: 33

The Original Broken Yolk Café started in 1979 in Pacific Beach, a local beach community in San Diego, California and has since become a Southern California favorite for breakfast, brunch and lunch. 

Gus' World Famous Fried Chicken

Investment Range: $587,500–$1,160,400
Startup Costs: $587,500–$1,160,400
Unit Count: 33

Memphis, Tennessee-based Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken is known for its straightforward menu that makes sure only the best options hit its guests’ plates. 

Tio Juan’s Margaritas

Investment Range: $1,538,500–$2,846,600
Startup Costs: $1,538,500–$2,846,600
Unit Count: 25

Tio Juan’s Margaritas is a fast-casual restaurant that serves an array of margaritas and other Mexican-inspired drinks, as well as fajitas, enchiladas, salads, tacos and other Mexican favorites.

Rodizio Grill

Investment Range: $747,000–$1,898,000
Startup Costs: $747,000–$1,898,000
Unit Count: 19

Brazilian steakhouse franchise Rodizio Grill focuses on meat carved tableside – including three-foot skewers of grilled meat – as well as large salad bars, hot side dishes and drinks. It was opened by Ivan Utrera in 1995, who grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Big Chicken

Investment Range: $673,000–$1,600,000
Startup Costs: $673,000–$1,600,000
Unit Count: 6

Big Chicken is a chicken franchise owned by basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal. The first franchised location was in August 2022 in Dayton, Ohio. Big Chicken fuses O’Neal’s home-cooked childhood favorites with today’s trending flavors.

The Red Chickz 

Investment Range: $399,000–$856,000
Startup Costs: $399,000–$856,000
Unit Count: 2

The Red Chickz is a Nashville Hot Chicken concept based in Los Angeles. The brand has plans to grow by over 40 new locations over the next year, all through franchising.  

Smalls Sliders

Investment Range: $1,077,108–$1,279,491
Startup Costs: $1,077,108–$1,279,491
Unit Count: 5

Smalls Sliders keeps its menu simple. Guests can choose from just four combos, including one, two, three or four sliders paired with fries and a drink. The streamlined menu is sold out of a roughly 1,000 sq. ft. shipping container that only has a walk-up window and drive-thru. 

Roll-Em-Up Taquitos

Investment Range: $278,700–$595,500
Startup Costs: $278,700–$595,500
Unit Count: 7

Roll-Em-Up Taquitos is known as the first and only taquito-focused franchise. Taquitos are hand-rolled daily and made to order. The brand’s pivot to online ordering and order-ahead technology has been driving month-over-month increases. 

Aloha Poke

Investment Range: $140,900–$388,270
Startup Costs: $140,900–$388,270
Unit Count: 17

Aloha Poke is dedicated to providing fast, fresh-packed poke bowls filled with sushi-grade fish and Hawaiian-inspired raw ingredients. The first location was a tiny food stall in a Chicago train station. Now, the brand is expanding from coast to coast through franchising. 

Bread Zeppelin

Unit Count: 7

Bread Zeppelin’s signature item, the Zeppelin, is not quite a sandwich and not quite a salad. It’s a hollowed-out baguette filled with the guest’s choice of chopped salad. In 2020, the business launched its own app which led to a rapid increase in digital orders, which represent over 40% of sales. 

Beyond Juicery + Eatery

Investment Range: $469,302–$649,199
Startup Costs: $469,302–$649,199
Unit Count: 37

Beyond Juicery + Eatery is a health-focused chain that serves made-to-order juices, smoothies, wraps, bowls and salads. It started franchising in 2019 and has seen continued growth since. 

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