15 Chicken Franchise Opportunities

chicken franchise

If you love chicken dishes and have an entrepreneurial spirit, a chicken franchise may be the perfect business opportunity for you. There are lots of restaurant chains in the U.S. that specialize in chicken and offer franchising opportunities. Here’s a guide for potential franchisees.

What Is a Chicken Franchise?

Chicken franchises are restaurant chains that serve dishes like chicken tenders, chicken wings, chicken fingers, and chicken sandwiches. They use a franchise business model, where they partner with independent business owners to license their brand and other resources in exchange for a fee.


The Chicken Restaurant Industry in 2022

Chicken restaurants make up a large portion of the fast food and quick service restaurant industries in 2022. In fact, this market segment is worth about $40 billion and is projected to grow by about 4.5 percent this year.

15 Chicken Franchise Opportunities

Why You Should Consider a Chicken Franchise

If you’re interested in starting a business in 2022, here are some top reasons to consider chicken franchise restaurants:

  • Break into a growing market: The chicken restaurant market is already large, but still poised for growth.
  • Get up and running quickly: Franchises offer training, site selection assistance, and brand recognition to help your new business get off the ground and start attracting customers right away.
  • Access-proven systems: They also provide access to technology, marketing, menu production, and inventory. So you don’t need to go through a lengthy trial and error period.
  • Shore up your supply chain: Lots of independent businesses are struggling with inventory and supply management. But nationwide chains have established relationships with vendors, which you can enjoy as a franchisee.
  • Put restaurant experience to use: Each franchise has different requirements. But many don’t require specific business experience. In fact, you may be well suited to franchise ownership if you’ve worked in restaurants before. So this can be a good option to go from employee to business owner.

Criteria for Choosing a Chicken Franchise: Our Methodology

When it comes to selecting the best chicken franchise, there are several key criteria to consider. We’ve put together a list of factors that will help you make an informed decision, each rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important:

  1. Franchise Reputation (5/5)
    • The reputation of the franchise is crucial. Look for well-established brands with a strong track record of success in the chicken industry.
  2. Initial Investment Costs (4/5)
    • Evaluate the upfront costs, including franchise fees, equipment, and real estate. Consider your budget and financing options carefully.
  3. Franchise Support (5/5)
    • A supportive franchisor can make a significant difference. Assess the level of training, marketing assistance, and ongoing support provided.
  4. Location (4/5)
    • The location of your chicken franchise can greatly impact its success. Research market demographics, competition, and the accessibility of potential locations.
  5. Menu and Quality (5/5)
    • The quality of the chicken and the variety of menu offerings can set your franchise apart. Ensure the products align with customer preferences.
  6. Brand Flexibility (3/5)
    • Evaluate how much freedom you have to adapt the franchise to your local market. Some franchises have strict brand standards, while others offer more flexibility.
  7. Growth Potential (4/5)
    • Consider the franchise’s growth prospects. Does it have a strong expansion plan and a market presence in your target region?
  8. Franchise Fees and Royalties (3/5)
    • Assess the ongoing fees and royalties you’ll need to pay to the franchisor. Ensure they align with your financial projections.
  9. Franchise Agreement Terms (3/5)
    • Carefully review the terms and conditions of the franchise agreement, including renewal options and exit strategies.
CriteriaDescriptionConsiderationsImportance (1-5)
Franchise ReputationEvaluate the franchise's reputation and track record. Look for established brands with a strong presence in the chicken industry.Research customer reviews and success stories.5
Initial Investment CostsAssess upfront costs, including franchise fees, equipment, and real estate expenses.Determine if the initial investment aligns with your budget and financing options.4
Franchise SupportConsider the level of training, marketing assistance, and ongoing support provided by the franchisor.Inquire about the availability of training programs and the responsiveness of the support team.5
LocationThe location of your franchise can significantly impact its success. Research market demographics and competition.Identify prime locations with high foot traffic and accessibility.4
Menu and QualityAssess the quality of the chicken products and the variety of menu offerings.Taste-test the food, if possible, and ensure it aligns with customer preferences in your area.5
Brand FlexibilityDetermine how much freedom you have to adapt the franchise to your local market.Understand the franchisor's brand standards and restrictions on menu modifications.3
Growth PotentialEvaluate the franchise's growth prospects and expansion plans.Investigate whether the franchise has a strong presence and growth potential in your target region.4
Franchise Fees and RoyaltiesExamine ongoing fees and royalties you'll need to pay to the franchisor.Calculate how these costs impact your financial projections and profitability.3
Franchise Agreement TermsCarefully review the terms and conditions of the franchise agreement, including renewal options and exit strategies.Seek legal counsel to ensure you fully understand and agree to the terms.3
Market ResearchConduct thorough market research to understand the demand for chicken products in your chosen location.Analyze market trends, demographics, and local preferences.4

15 Chicken Franchise Opportunities

Top Chicken Franchise Options

There are many franchised chicken restaurants that offer different business models and benefits. Go through the options below to find the opportunity that best aligns with your needs and preferences.

1. Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick is a fast-casual chain that specializes in chicken salad and menu items made with fresh, quality ingredients. Franchisees enjoy a simple business model and solid work-life balance. Total startup costs range from about $740,000 to $980,000.

2. Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings is a chain of sports bars that specialize in buffalo wings and beer. These are sit-down restaurants that require larger locations and teams, but they have solid brand recognition in markets throughout the country. The initial investment ranges from $529,817 to $796,325.

3. Church’s Chicken

Church’s Chicken is a popular fried chicken franchise with Texas roots that now has locations around the world. There are multiple location types, and both domestic and international expansion opportunities are available. Enjoy solid brand recognition, franchisee support, and quality locations available. With such a huge range of options, startup costs also vary widely, from about $200,000 to $1.1 million.

4. Chick-fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is a popular chicken franchise known for its delicious sandwiches and southern hospitality. This brand looks for hands-on business owners who want to lead their own team and be active in the community. This brand has one of the highest rates of brand recognition and can offer an incredibly profitable model with support to franchisees. The initial cost ranges from about $340,000 to $1.9 million.

5. Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the most recognizable brands in this niche. In addition to their chicken made with proprietary recipes, they offer other great food like buttermilk biscuits and sides. The initial costs for a new construction store range from $1,442,600 TO $2,771,550.

15 Chicken Franchise Opportunities

6. Zaxby’s

Zaxby’s is a popular fast-casual chain mainly in the South that specializes in quality menu options like chicken sandwiches, wings, fingers, and salads. Startup costs vary widely. But franchisees must have a net worth of at least $1,000,000 and liquid assets of at least $500,000.

7. El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco specializes in fire-grilled chicken. Current locations are mainly concentrated around the Southwest U.S., with plenty of room for growth in other markets. Initial costs range from $505,000 to $1.1 million.

8. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Popeyes has been a popular quick service restaurant since 1972. The company’s strong history and brand recognition make it a top choice in markets around the country. New locations cost between $235,000 and $454,000 to start.

More Great Chicken Franchises

The restaurant chains listed above are just a few of the chicken franchises available today. If you love fresh chicken and are looking for a new franchise system, consider the opportunities below as well.

9. East Coast Wings + Grill

East Coast Wings + Grill is a full-service restaurant franchise that offers hot wings and a variety of signature sauces and sides. Franchisees also receive support to enhance the success of their ventures. The estimated initial investment ranges from $427,968 – $981,275.


10. Champs Chicken

Champs Chicken offers a turnkey franchise opportunity. It’s one of the fastest growing companies in the chicken franchise industry, with stores mainly opening inside other venues like gas stations and grocery stores. Initial costs vary widely, but there is no franchise fee.

11. Atomic Wings

Atomic Wings is a nationally recognized brand that offers multi-unit franchising opportunities. Startup costs for three units range from $197,900 to $381,000.

15 Chicken Franchise Opportunities

12. Wingstop

Wingstop franchise opportunities are available in both the U.S. and international markets. Franchisees must have experience with multi-unit restaurant management. Initial costs range from $315,310 to $948,080.

13. Slim Chickens

Slim Chickens has more than 150 dine-in units open around the U.S., with plenty more room for growth. The company offers strong branding and support. Startup costs range from about $1 million to over $3 million.

14. Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken offers dine-in, carryout, and catering. They offer support with everything from site selection to volume purchasing. Startup costs range from $260,000 to $1.2 million.

15. Wing Zone

Wing Zone specializes in fast, delicious wings and offers a customizable business model for franchisees. International and multi-unit opportunities are also available. Initial startup costs range from $420,800-$751,000.

How to Choose the Best Franchise to Set Up Your Chicken Restaurant

The chicken franchises listed above provide a wide range of business opportunities. Here are some tips franchise owners can use to find the best opportunity for their specific needs.

Determine Your Budget

Franchise fees in the chicken industry vary anywhere from about $200,000 to more than $2 million. Many have net worth and liquid asset requirements for franchisees. So, determine a strict budget before applying.

Analyze Your Local Market

Some areas may already have a lot of fast food restaurants, while others may be more saturated with dine-in options. Find a restaurant model that’s a bit different than the others in your local area to attract new customers.

Think About What Business Style Works Best for You

Do you want to be involved in the day-to-day operations of your chicken restaurant? Or would you prefer to hire a management team? What about off-days or training? Consider how you want your work life to feel and find a franchise model that fits your lifestyle.

Compare Features and Services

Then it’s time to look at the specific options offered by each business. Check the franchise disclosure document and speak with company reps to find your most important services.

What Is the Best Chicken Franchise for Fried Chicken?

There are many restaurant franchises that offer popular versions of southern fried chicken. However, Kentucky Fried Chicken is among the top chicken franchises in terms of brand recognition.

What Franchise Serves the Best Chicken Wings?

There are many chicken franchises that are known for quality chicken wings. However, Buffalo Wild Wings is considered among the top names in this space.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Chicken Franchise?

Chicken franchise opportunities vary widely in cost. Startup expenses can be anywhere from about $200,000 to $2 million. Most fall between about $500,000 and $1 million. The initial franchise fee may range from $10,000 to $50,000.

Is a Chicken Franchise Profitable?

Starting a chicken business does come with significant startup costs, but it can be profitable in the right market. Some franchises report profit margins between 7 and 8 percent. And gross sales can range from about $50,000 to over $3 million a year. This all varies widely by restaurant style and location.


Image: Envato Elements

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.