Move Over McDonald’s, 20 Healthy Food Franchises to Challenge the Burger Chains

Move Over McDonald's -- 20 Healthy Food Franchises to Challenge the Burger Chains

When you think about franchise restaurants, you might not picture menus that are especially healthy. But there’s more to the franchise restaurant game than McDonald’s.

If you’re interested in opening a franchise restaurant, but you want to keep it healthier than traditional fast food, here are 20 franchise restaurants with healthy options.

Healthy Food Franchises to Consider

Panera Bread

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Panera Bread

With strong nationwide brand recognition and a reputation for using only fresh, natural ingredients, Panera Bread is one of the top franchise options for healthy food. To get started, you need experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator and a net worth of at least $7.5 million.

FRESH Healthy Cafe

20 Healthy Food Franchises - FRESH Healthy Cafe

FRESH Healthy Cafe is a global brand that fits into the fast casual sector. The company is open to everything from multi-unit developments to co-branded franchises. So costs can vary based on your preferences.

UFood Grill

20 Healthy Food Franchises - UFood Grill

Another fast casual restaurant franchise, UFood Grill specializes in fresh, grilled, low-calorie options. The initial franchise fee is $35,000. And the company provides assistance with site selection, training and more.

Noodles and Company

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Noodles and Company

With a menu that includes a large variety of noodle-based dishes, Noodles and Company also includes fresh veggies and other healthy ingredients in many of its menu items. The company is mainly looking for franchisees interested in opening multi-unit developments. And you need a net worth of at least $3 million to get started.

Extreme Pita

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Extreme Pita

Extreme Pita pairs traditional pita bread with a number of fresh, healthy ingredients. The initial cost can vary based on a number of factors. But you’ll need a net worth of at least $200,000 and a clear credit history to get started.


20 Healthy Food Franchises - Saladworks

Specializing in customizable salads made with fresh ingredients, Saladworks is part of the growing fast casual restaurant market. You need a net worth of at least $1.5 million to get started.

Maui Wowi

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Maui Wowi

Smoothies offer a unique opportunity to offer menu items with lots of fresh fruits and other healthy ingredients. And Maui Wowi specializes in smoothies and coffee. A mobile franchise style, Maui Wowi is fairly affordable compared to other opportunities, with a liquid capital requirement of $75,000.

Smoothie King

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Smoothie King

Smoothie King is another smoothie and juice bar franchise that offers a variety of healthy ingredients for customers. The initial franchise fee ranges from $20,000 to $30,000. And other costs can vary depending on location, size and other factors.

Del Taco

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Del Taco

A Mexican restaurant franchise that specializes in using only fresh ingredients, Del Taco has been building up its nationwide brand recognition for over 50 years. The initial franchise fee is $35,000. And you’ll need a net worth of at least $1 million to get started.

Au Bon Pain

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Au Bon Pain

Operating cafes mainly in the Northeast part of the U.S. Au Bon Pain is open to new franchises in select locations like office buildings, shopping malls and more. Costs can vary based on a number of factors. But you’ll need a minimum net worth of at least $5 million to get started.

Corner Bakery Cafe

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Corner Bakery Cafe

Corner Bakery Cafe is a neighborhood cafe restaurant chain that has a menu featuring items like soups, salads and sandwiches made with fresh ingredients. There are several territories currently available. And you’ll need a net worth of at least $3 million to get started.


20 Healthy Food Franchises - Qdoba

Qdoba is a well-known Mexican food chain. But many of the menu items feature fresh and low-fat ingredients. Plus, customers can customize their own dishes to their specific tastes. The company is currently looking for franchisees that have the financial capacity to develop multiple units.

Firehouse Subs

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Firehouse Subs

With more than 1,000 locations, Firehouse Subs is a sandwich shop that uses healthy ingredients and is also dedicated to helping the communities they serve. You need a minimum of $80,000 to invest.

Teriyaki Grill

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Teriyaki Grill

Teriyaki Grill is a restaurant chain that specializes in Asian inspired dishes made with fresh, healthy ingredients. The initial franchise fee is $25,000, which includes training.

Smoothie Factory

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Smoothie Factory

A smoothie and juice bar, Smoothie Factory offers a variety of healthy beverage options. You need to have a net worth of at least $200,000 to get started.

Taco Del Mar

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Taco Del Mar

Specializing in tacos and similar items made with fresh ingredients, Taco Del Mar offers another franchise option for health minded entrepreneurs. The company provides training, field support, product development assistance and more to franchisees. And the initial franchise fee is $15,000.

Pita Pit

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Pita Pit

Pita Pit’s menu items are made with fresh baked pita bread, lean grilled meats and fresh toppings. The company currently has many openings in markets around the U.S. Costs can vary based on location and other factors.

Atlanta Bread

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Atlanta Bread

Atlanta Bread is a chain of bakery cafes that offer quality, healthy food items. The company provides assistance with real estate, design, marketing, ongoing support and more.

Rush Bowls

20 Healthy Food Franchises - Rush Bowls

Rush Bowls is a Colorado-based franchise concept that specializes in acai bowls and other menu items made with fresh fruit, granola and other healthy ingredients. Launched in 2004, the company has already developed a strong brand recognition in select markets. You can request more information on the company’s website.

NrGize Lifestyle Cafe

20 Healthy Food Franchises - NrGize Lifestyle Cafe

Specializing in healthy smoothies and meal replacement shakes, NrGize Lifestyle Cafe offers a variety of different franchise opportunities ranging in cost from $7,500 to $30,000 for the initial franchise fee.

Healthy Food Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

6 Reactions
  1. McDonald’s has done a good job of improving the number & quality of healthy options on their menu. I’m sure I could find food equally as “unhealthy” as a burger on the menus of Del Taco or Noodles & Company. What consumers need to learn is that their lifestyle and their food choices are more important than where they eat.

    • That’s very true – lots of variety out there no matter what the restaurant’s reputation is

    • Robert: I agree with your statement. A hamburger in its pure form, is a healthy food dish, according to my view.

      Where could I find NrGize Lifestyle Cafes?

    • Couldn’t agree more with you. We cannot limit ourselves from a little pleasure from time to time, whether that is some junk food or a few drinks. Keeping a healthy lifestyle, doing workouts regularly, having enough sleep, etc. is what matters.

  2. Healthy food restaurants are now becoming a big deal with the consumers. It seems that there is now a shift in perspective when it comes to food and they now favor healthier options.

  3. Well its about time that consumers in the US get on the “healthy train”. But what about healthy supermarkets ??

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