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The Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Franchises

These five franchises are ones you love to indulge in.

By Savannah BilboStaff Writer
12:12PM 04/27/23

Are there some foods you just love even though you know they’re bad for you? Donuts, sugary coffee, burgers, fries and shakes? These are all things you love but probably shouldn’t have too often if you’re looking after your health. Learn more about these top-five guilty pleasure franchises. 

Cold Stone Creamery 

Cold Stone Creamery was founded in 1988 by a couple named Susan and Donald Sutherland in Tempe, Arizona. The ice cream brand began franchising in 1994. Cold Stone has over 850 locations in the U.S. and 300-plus units internationally. Offering a large selection of sundaes, ice cream cakes and signature creations, Cold Stone allows you to customize your treat in any way you’d like. All of the ice creams are made fresh daily, or you can pick up a pre-packaged container if you’re on the go. 

The guilty pleasure ice cream brand has a low barrier of entry. Investment costs range from $53,200 to $580,650, depending on if you launch a traditional or non-traditional location. There’s no previous experience required to run a Cold Stone, only a passion for business and the Cold Stone Creamery Brand.

You can learn more about franchising a Cold Stone Creamery here

Five Guys 

Five Guys was founded by Janie and Jerry Murrell and their four sons, Jim, Matt, Chad and Ben. The couple later had a fifth son, Tyler. The burger-and-fry brand known for its free peanuts was founded in 1986 in Arlington County, Virginia. Five Guys began franchising in 2002 and has grown from five restaurants to over 1,500 in 16 different countries. The guilty pleasure burger brand offers fries shakes, burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs. With a variety of toppings available to add, the menu is incredibly customizable. 

Currently, there are no territories available in the U.S. or Canada but Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific regions are available. In order to franchise a Five Guys location, candidates need $5–10 million in capital available. 

To start the process of franchising a Five Guys franchise you can fill out a form here. 

Dunkin’ Donuts

Founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts is well-known for its coffee-and-donut quick service franchise. Before becoming the Dunkin’ Donuts known today, the donut shop was previously known as Open Kettle in 1948. The menu was similar to the well-known one today, serving coffee, sandwiches and pastries. Four years after officially becoming Dunkin’ Donuts, founder William Rosenberg already opened five restaurants. Now Dunkin’ boasts over 11,300 locations worldwide. 

Dunkin offers standard coffees and other beverages but also has seasonal specials. Additionally, it offers a plethora of breakfast items. 

The investment cost for Dunkin’ Donuts is $526,900–$1,787,000, and the franchise fee is $40,000–$90,000. To qualify as a candidate, you need a minimum of $250,000 in liquid assets. To become a franchisee of Dunkin’ Donuts, you can visit the site here


S. Truett Cathy started his business The Dwarf House (now renamed the Dwarf Grill) in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia. It was there that the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich was created. Cathy then officially opened Chick-fil-A in 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia. The quick-service “eat mor chickin” brand offers a wide range of chicken products and breakfast options, and has over 2,500 locations. Chick-fil-A is famously closed on Sundays because Cathy previously worked seven days a week at other restaurants. He wants his employees to have a day of rest and worship if they choose to

Chick-fil-A has an incredibly low barrier to entry, with only $10,000 needed as an initial investment. Candidates must be dedicated to serving great food and providing excellent hospitality. To learn more about franchising a Chick-fil-A, click here. 

Dairy Queen

In 1938, John Fremont McCullough developed Dairy Queen’s famous soft serve. In 1940, in Joliet, Illinois, the first Dairy Queen was created. Three years after opening, the quick-service ice cream brand started franchising and now has over 2,500 stores in the U.S. and over 6,000 worldwide. Not only does Dairy Queen offer its famous soft serve but it offers chicken tenders, fries, sundaes and ice cream cakes. 

The franchise fee for Dairy Queen is $45,000, and the initial investment is $1,461,200–$2,426,990. Dairy Queen has a franchise support team there to help you from the first phone call to the grand opening. If you’re interested in franchising a Dairy Queen, you can learn more here