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Top Burger Franchises Over 50 Units

1851 Franchise lists leading burger franchises with 50-plus units.

Whether you consider a burger to be a sandwich or not, there’s no denying that burgers are a hot category, with Technomic reporting $85 billion in annual burger sales (for fast casual and limited service restaurants) in 2017. Even IHOP tried to tap into the $135 billion burger segment this year, with its fake name change to International House of Burgers (IHOB). Below are ten burger franchises to watch in 2018, including players in the both fast casual and quick-service segments. We chose brands with more than 50 units to be considered established.

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes*

Unit Count: 79

Investment Range: $373,350 - $623,300


Plano, Texas-based MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes is having quite a moment. The “seriously fun,” fast casual burger brand recently earned the “Best Burger Deal” in QSR Magazine’s 2018 list of the best franchise deals. In 2017, MOOYAH was acquired by an affiliate of Balmoral Funds LLC and Gala Capital Partners and has developed a strategic plan to focus on improving its technology, operations, marketing and franchisee support. MOOYAH offers 100% Certified Angus Beef® burgers, Jennie-O® turkey burgers and black bean veggie burgers, along with buns baked in-house daily, real ice cream shakes and hand-cut fries made to order.

Burger King

Unit Count: 15,000+

Investment Range: $323,100 - $3,076,600


In the neverending battle of the burgers, Burger King threw its hat into the ring in a big way in 2018, with an increasingly clever social media presence that takes on other brands in the category and crowdsources ideas from its followers. One such idea, announced in August 2018, is bringing back 90s favorite Surge, a citrusy, heavily caffeinated soda, which is now available in Coke Freestyle machines at select Burger King locations. The brand also announced a partnership with Budweiser that will remake the polarizing but classic 90s “Whassup” commercials. What 90s nostalgia will they tackle next?

Checkers* & Rally's*

Unit Count: 850+

Investment Range: $96,414 - $1,501,265


Checkers & Rally’s has established itself as a standout brand in the burger category with its modular restaurant design. A restaurant is built entirely offsite and delivered to its location and set, which allows franchisees to save significant time and money on construction, avoid weather delays, and get their restaurants opened faster. The brand has opened ten modular restaurants in 2018, with plans for an additional 20 before the end of the year. The Tampa-based, value-focused brand plans to open 70 restaurants in 2018 and will celebrate its 900th opening in the fall. In addition, Checkers & Rally’s has plans in the works to improve its technology, develop programs that help its franchisees find and retain good employees and continue its impressive year-over-year growth.

DQ Grill & Chill*

Unit Count: 1,560+ (DQ Grill & Chill locations)

Investment Range: $1.07 million - $1.83 million


The popular purveyor of frozen treats has become a restaurant force to be reckoned with. Dairy Queen’s DQ Grill & Chill model offers a full-service dining experience, with burgers, sandwiches, salads and sides, in addition to the cold treats that made Dairy Queen a household name. The Warren Buffett backed franchise brand brought on a new CEO, Troy Bader, in early 2018 to modernize the beloved, classic brand while keeping the loyal system of franchise owners happy. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Bader plans to do this by focusing on improving the brand’s technology and food offerings.


Unit Count: 108+

Investment Range: $670,400 - $973,250


In just seven years, BurgerFi has broken out in the crowded burger segment with its focus on gourmet beef and veggie burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, fries, onion rings, craft beer and wine. This simple formula, along with a commitment to environmental sustainability and 100% angus beef, has helped the brand open more than 100 units. The technology-focused brand launched a call center in 2018 to take off-premise orders and a “virtual drive-thru” for customers to pick up orders curbside. BurgerFi is set to open 15 to 20 more stores before the end of 2018, with 25 to 30 planned to open in 2019.


Unit Count: 36,000+

Investment Range: $1,058,000 - $2,230,000


The global burger leader announced in August 2018 a $6 billion plan to reimage its more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants. The remodel will feature new interior and exterior decor, updated furniture, a table service option, as well as kiosks for digital ordering, digital menu boards and parking spots for customers who order ahead on the McDonald’s app. McDonald’s also opened a new 490,000 square foot, nine story global headquarters in the former Harpo Studios space in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood. The office houses McDonald’s 2,000 employees and will help fuel CEO Steve Easterbrook’s continued brand innovation.


Unit Count: 6,500+

Investment Range: $2,000,000 - $3,500,000


Backed by the launch of a new, smaller restaurant prototype, Smart 55, Wendy’s reported in August 2018 22 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. This year, after seeing an increase in average check sizes, the Dublin, Ohio-based burger brand is also expanding its third-party delivery partnership with DoorDash to 40 percent of its North American stores. Wendy’s has cemented itself as the social media leader in the burger space through its clever, tongue-in-cheek social media presence, particularly on its Twitter, which features “clapbacks” to competitors and its unsatisfied customers and topical, humorous takes on current events.


Unit Count: 3,500+

Investment Range: $865,000 - $3,641,300


2018 was the summer of the pickle juice slush. Sonic shocked customers across the United States by adding the polarizing menu item for the month of June. This product was born in Sonic’s test kitchen, located in its Oklahoma City headquarters, helmed by chef Scott Uehlein, who took Business Insider behind the scenes for a sneak peek into where the magic (or madness) happens. Other 2018 menu innovation include chicken tenders that are less breaded than their fast food counterparts, a sweet and salty pretzel twist, a Philly cheesesteak (on a hot dog bun) and blended mushroom burgers.


Unit Count: 665+

Investment Range: $2,043,000 - $4,652,000


The Wisconsin based chain responsible for bringing ButterBurgers to the masses is now turning its focus to chicken. In August 2018 the brand released a new national commercial targeting millennial mothers that details the brand’s commitment to sourcing high-quality chicken. The spots feature the brand’s three chicken offerings: grilled, crispy and spicy crispy sandwiches and highlight how Culver’s was one of the first chains to focus on proper chicken sourcing. The 34-year old enjoyed $1.43 billion in sales in 2017, finding success in 23 states outside of its home base in Wisconsin.

Jack in the Box

Unit Count: 2,250+

Investment Range: $1,481,500 - $3,336,600


In August 2018, Jack in the Box announced a strategic plan to invest $45 million to revitalize its drive thru, including new digital menu boards, as well as canopies to allow staff to take outdoor orders, and a plan to overhaul the overall aesthetic of the drive-thru area. The brand focused on providing its customers with a value offering as well as refranchising underperforming stores in 2018, taking company-owned stores and selling them to qualified franchise candidates, which led to an increase in same-store sales, according to its third quarter earnings report as reported by Nasdaq.

*Brands marked with an asterisk are clients of 1851 Franchise or No Limit Agency*.

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