1851 Franchise lists leading chicken franchises with under 50 units.
Chicken is the new beef. According to a Priceonomics report, this is the first time in over 100 years that the U.S. chicken consumption has exceeded beef, reaching about 60 pounds per person per year. A large reason for this peak is due to its sheer versatility and its affordable price -- chicken has become a staple in every country. This also increases the number of brands competing in the space as hundreds of chicken franchises have opened all over the world, trying to take on the big players. We’ve looked into the top emerging brands in the industry who might have the ability to become the next Chick-fil-A or KFC.
Unit count: 15 across three states and 1 in Lebanon
Cluck-U was started in New Brunswick, New Jersey back in 1985 by a college student who wanted to bring the food he craved to his campus. As a result, the Buffalo Winger was born. Since then, the brand has grown to a full menu of delicious chicken recipes and 16 locations in the U.S. and Lebanon with room to grow through franchising. With the motto, "Fresh Food Grilled or Fried, U decide," Cluck-U offers items like Breast Bites, Boneless Buffalo Wings, Cluckwiches and sides made with secret recipes and hot sauces. They make it a priority to have healthy-yet-delicious options for those looking for an alternative to fast food.
Investment Range: $125,000 - $225,000?
Unit count: 5 locations with 4 in the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates
There nothing better (or stranger) than a viral food trend. From unicorn cupcakes to charcoal ice cream, at times it seems to be getting out of control. Yet Chick’nCone is one that has received a lot of praise and may very well stick around. With over 48,000 followers on Instagram, this brand has reinvented the way people eat crispy fried chicken - by serving it in a delicious waffle cone. The currently have brick-and-mortar and mobile locations in New York, Colorado, Texas, Kentucky and Dubai, with plans to expand their franchise business largely and rapidly. According to their website, “We are looking for serious and seasoned franchisees wanting to open five, 10 and 25 units.”
Investment Range: $450,000 - $550,000
Unit count: 27 locations in seven states
Phil Sanders had a passion for delicious food and western movies, so he decided to combine his two dreams to found Cowboy Chicken with his wife, Jeanette, in 1981. Many years later, Cowboy Chicken is still thriving and is known for its healthy, signature wood-fired rotisserie chicken. They hold their chicken to the highest standards by ensuring it is always all natural with no added hormones or steroids. The original Cowboy Chicken opened in Dallas and through the brand’s successful franchise model, there are now 27 locations with a promise to keep growing. Cowboy Chicken makes it easy to love them with online ordering, full catering options and a variety of menu options to fulfill all cravings.
Investment Range: $511,996 - $844,907
La Rosa Chicken & Grill
Unit count: Nine locations across New York and New Jersey
La Rosa is focused on finding the right franchisees to help grow their Italian chicken brand. The brand’s Italian roots keep its food authentic - always made from scratch and cooked to the highest quality and taste. La Rosa started in New Jersey, which is where the majority of its locations are. The brand has great positioning for those looking to join a brand with strong family values and dedication to giving customers an authentic experience. Testimonials from current franchises talk about the amazing food as just the start of a great partnership and mentor model.
Investment Range: $273,800 - $456,500
Duff’s Famous Wings
Unit count: 11 locations the U.S and Canada
A place where “hot” sauce means fire-in-your-mouth-that-you-can’t-put-out hot sauce, Duff's Famous Wings sells over 24 billion chicken wings every year. The brand is thriving in the market with their crispy wings and signature sauce, famous for being, well, really hot. Duff’s officially started in 1969 with the intention to build a brand to live up to its ‘famous’ name. Now with locations in New York, Georgia and Canada, the brand is proud to hold that title. Duff’s is actively looking for business-minded franchisees with a passion for its food and the ability to work with customers and its corporate team.
Investment Range: $435,325 - $972,323
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles
Unit count: Seven locations across 3 states
The dynamic duo of chicken and waffles is beloved by many and Lo-Lo’s has mastered the creation. The brand ensures that each element is cooked to perfection, good enough to stand alone, but mind-blowing when savored in one yummy bite. Lo-Lo’s was founded in Arizona by Larry “Lo-Lo” White, and the brand has since grown into a multi-unit soul food success. Even though Lo-Lo’s hasn’t joined the healthy food trend, the brand has found its niche with a crave-worthy sweet and savory meal that will never get old. The brand has an impressive franchise website outlining the process, benefits and key markets where it is hoping to grow.
Investment Range: $850,000 – $2,300,000 (not including land)
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Unit count: 26 locations across 12 states
This chicken brand has been thriving for more than 60 years since its humble beginnings in the town of Mason, Tennessee. Now with locations all across the U.S., Gus’s Fried Chicken has stayed true to its small-town roots with its iconic Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken recipe and classic sides. Gus’s is one of the few brands that have managed to expand across the nation, with locations in 12 states thanks to an ideal model for those looking to provide simple, delicious comfort food. The brand is currently targeting expansion in Kentucky.
Investment Range: N/A
Mrs. Winner's Chicken & Biscuits
Unit count: 14 locations across three states
Mrs. Winner’s lives and breathes southern comfort food. The quick-service restaurant chain known for southern staples, including traditional sides, sweet tea, biscuits and of course, the main offering of juicy fried chicken. Mrs. Winner’s emulates southern hospitality on par with its comfort food at all of its locations. The brand is offering incentives for prospective franchisees like a reduced royalty fee and waived advertising fees during the first six months. Mrs. Winner’s employs an extensive franchisee training program over five weeks, three of which are on-location at an existing franchise, that sets franchisees up to be successful.
Investment Range: $250,000 - $500,000
Smithfields Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q
Unit count: 39 locations in North Carolina
Quality, service and cleanliness are the standards Smithfields Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q holds to each location and all of its franchisees. Quality relays to the fresh, delicious ingredients slow cooked overnight, ensuring each piece of meat is mouth watering and perfect. Smithfields’ fast-casual barbecue caters to the busy individual looking for a classic meal made with healthy and fresh ingredients. Its franchise model has experienced success with 39 open locations throughout North Carolina and plans to expand across the nation.
Investment Range: $50,000 franchise fee; full investment range N/A
Wild Wing Cafe
Unit count: 44 locations across 9 states
Wild Wing Cafe lives by the mantra of wings, cold beer and good times. The brand began on the beach in South Carolina and has grown to the current 44 locations across the U.S. with a passion for making great wings and staying true to their local community. Wild Wing Cafe does a great job of getting their community involved with daily events like the “Wild Wing Voice Off” singing competition and “Fantasy Draft at the Wing,” inviting customers to enjoy a beer while drafting their fantasy teams. The brand leverages its emphasis on community involvement in its franchisee recruitment process.
Investment Range: $1,054,242 - $2,238,925