Food Truck Franchise Options: 12 of the Best


food truck franchise

The food truck franchise industry continues flourishing, offering diverse and enticing cuisine while presenting remarkable business opportunities. Aspiring entrepreneurs can make informed decisions by assessing the benefits and drawbacks of owning a food truck franchise.

To set you on your way, we’ve highlighted 12 of the top food truck franchises worth considering for a more successful business venture.

The Food Truck Industry in 2023

The food truck industry in 2023 has evolved significantly, driven by increased demand for convenient and diverse dining experiences. The more than 35,000 food trucks in the United States now achieve a combined more than $2.7 billion in annual sales. In fact, food truck growth is outpacing that of overall food business, including restaurants.

With changing consumer preferences and a penchant for street food, food trucks have become a staple at various events, ranging from corporate gatherings to a food truck festival. These mobile eateries cater to a broad range of tastes, offering an impressive array of gastronomic delights and contributing to the vibrancy of the culinary landscape. From gourmet tacos, chicken sandwiches and artisanal burgers to plant-based cuisine and ethnic fusion, the possibilities are vast and tantalizing for both consumers and business owners alike.

Food truck festivals have emerged as popular destinations for food enthusiasts, showcasing the culinary diversity and creativity that these mobile businesses offer. The events not only boost the visibility of participating food trucks but also foster a sense of community and encourage friendly competition.

Is a food truck franchise profitable?

A food truck franchise can indeed be profitable if approached with the right strategy and a keen understanding of the restaurant industry. Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, food trucks often require lower initial investment and reduced operating costs while offering greater flexibility. Plus, a franchise offers the advantage of an established brand, marketing support and a proven business model, which can accelerate the profit-making process.

However, profitability is contingent on various factors, including the choice of franchise, location, target audience, menu offerings and effective management. After all, it could be easier to stand out in a market with few sushi franchise trucks than marketing yet another sandwich cart in a location boasting several others. Those, thorough market research, smart financial planning and efficient operations play a crucial role in ensuring the success of a food truck franchise.

Our Methodology: Food Truck Franchise Options

In our quest to identify the most viable food truck franchise options for budding entrepreneurs and small business owners, we delve deeply into various facets that contribute to a franchise’s success and sustainability. This isn’t just about hopping on the bandwagon of the latest trend; it’s about meticulous analysis to ensure we recommend options that offer real growth and success potential.

In our effort to recommend the most promising food truck franchise opportunities, we’ve analyzed various factors. These criteria are rated on a scale from 10 (most important) to 1 (least important), ensuring that our picks align with the entrepreneurial spirit and practical considerations of starting a mobile food business.

  1. Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs: Importance 10/10
    • Affordability of the initial franchise fee and startup costs.
    • Transparency in ongoing operational expenses, like royalties and marketing fees.
    • Balance between the investment required and the potential for profitability.
  2. Brand Recognition and Market Presence: Importance 9/10
    • Strength and popularity of the franchise brand.
    • Market positioning and competitive advantage.
    • Established customer base and brand loyalty.
  3. Training and Support: Importance 8/10
    • Quality and comprehensiveness of training programs for franchisees.
    • Ongoing support in areas like operations, marketing, and menu development.
    • Availability of a robust support network and resources.
  4. Menu Appeal and Flexibility: Importance 8/10
    • Attractiveness and uniqueness of the menu offerings.
    • Flexibility to adapt the menu to local tastes and trends.
    • Alignment with current food industry trends and dietary preferences.
  5. Operational Efficiency: Importance 7/10
    • Efficiency of the food truck design and kitchen layout.
    • Effectiveness of supply chain and inventory management systems.
    • Streamlined processes for order taking, preparation, and service.
  6. Growth Potential and Expansion Opportunities: Importance 6/10
    • Scalability of the business model for multiple units.
    • Market analysis and potential for expansion in different areas.
    • Opportunities for growth within the franchise system.
  7. Franchisee Feedback and Satisfaction: Importance 6/10
    • Reviews and testimonials from current and former franchisees.
    • Franchisee success stories and case studies.
    • Overall satisfaction and retention rates within the franchise.
  8. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Importance 5/10
    • Guidance and support in navigating local health and safety regulations.
    • Assistance with permits and licensing requirements.
    • Fairness and clarity of the franchise agreement.

This approach is by no means exhaustive, as the dynamics of each business opportunity may bring additional considerations to the fore. However, this methodology provides a robust framework to initiate our exploration into promising food truck franchises.

The 12 Best Food Truck Franchises

By reading our list of the 12 best food truck franchise options, you can take the opportunity to venture into the realm of lucrative mobile culinary businesses. These industry-leading options boast a harmonious blend of exceptional cuisine, innovative business models and strong brand recognition.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will find promising prospects within these franchises, setting the stage for a successful and fulfilling journey in the ever-growing food truck industry.

Food Truck FranchiseDescriptionInitial Franchise FeeTotal Investment RangeRequired Liquid Capital
Kona Ice- Standout shaved ice franchise with tropical-themed, colorful trucks
- Offers a unique business opportunity in the food truck industry
- Initial franchise fee: $15,000
- Estimated total investment: $160,000 (includes inventory pack and truck)
$15,000$160,000-
GiGis Cupcakes- Gourmet cupcakes food truck franchise
- Known for delicious cupcakes with delightful flavors and designs
- Initial franchise fee: $35,000
- Total investment range: $237,200 - $427,500
- Required liquid capital: $150,000
$35,000$237,200 - $427,500$150,000
Masshole Lobster- Brings the authentic taste of New England's coastal cuisine to the streets
- Specializes in mouthwatering lobster dishes
- Total cost for a Masshole Lobster truck: $84,700 - $160,150 (includes franchise fee)
-$84,700 - $160,150-
Cousins Maine Lobster Rolls- Offers an authentic Maine experience nationwide
- Serves succulent lobster rolls
- Initial franchise fee: $38,500
- Total investment range: $190,800 - $863,750
- Required liquid capital: $50,000 - $75,000
$38,500$190,800 - $863,750$50,000 - $75,000
Kono Pizza- Specializes in cone-shaped pizzas
- Offers a variety of flavors, including dessert cones
- Initial franchise fee: Starting at $25,000
- Total investment range: $90,000 - $150,000
Starting at $25,000$90,000 - $150,000-
Wing It On!- Fast-growing food truck franchise offering wings, sauces, and sides
- Total investment range: $210,000 - $440,000
- Franchise fee: $30,000
- Required liquid capital: $150,000
$30,000$210,000 - $440,000$150,000
Bobablastic- Franchise specializing in bubble tea and beverages
- Total investment range: $100,000 - $200,000
- Franchise fee: $25,000
- Required liquid capital: $50,000
$25,000$100,000 - $200,000$50,000
Totally Nutz- Franchise specializing in freshly roasted cinnamon-glazed nuts
- Total initial investment: $57,000
- Franchise fee: $27,500
- Many owners can achieve full return on investment in December alone
$27,500$57,000$25,000
Ice Cream Emergency- Food truck franchise offering a variety of ice cream and frozen desserts
- Total investment range: $139,700 - $228,400
- Low royalty fee
- Required liquid capital: $35,000
-$139,700 - $228,400$35,000
Churro Mania- Food truck franchise offering churros and Spanish treats
- Total initial investment starts at $184,450
- Initial franchise fee: $30,000
- Required liquid capital: $90,000
$30,000$184,450$90,000
The Rusty Dog- Food truck franchise specializing in corn dogs
- Initial franchise fee: $20,000
- Initial investment (custom-built trailer): $65,000 (exact cost varies with options)
- $5,000 royalty fee includes various support services
$20,000$65,000-

1. Kona Ice

Kona Ice, a standout shaved ice franchise, delivers a refreshing and fun experience to customers of all ages. With its tropical-themed, colorful trucks and vibrant array of flavors, Kona Ice offers a unique business opportunity for entrepreneurs seeking to enter the food truck industry while spreading joy through delicious, icy treats. It also has outstanding brand recognition in markets throughout the country.

To start a Kona Ice food truck franchise, the initial franchise fee is $15,000, with an estimated total investment is about $160,000, including an inventory pack and a truck.

2. GiGis Cupcakes

Gigi’s Cupcakes food truck franchise elevates the humble treat into irresistible gourmet cupcakes. Known for its delicious cupcakes with delightful flavors and beautifully crafted designs, Gigi’s Cupcakes offers entrepreneurs a sweet opportunity to share happiness on wheels, while benefiting from a reputable brand name and a supportive franchise network.

The initial franchise fee is set at $35,000, and the required liquid capital to invest in this franchise is $150,000. In total, it takes between $237,200 and $427,500 to open a new Gigi’s Cupcakes franchise, however, the franchisor also provides ongoing assistance to their franchise owners.

3. Masshole Lobster

The Masshole Lobster Food Truck franchise brings the authentic taste of New England’s coastal cuisine to the streets. Specializing in mouthwatering lobster dishes, this mobile culinary venture offers entrepreneurs a chance to serve up fresh seafood classics while enjoying the benefits of a well-established brand and a supportive franchise system.

Investing in a Masshole Lobster franchise can be an affordable opportunity for interested entrepreneurs. The total cost to purchase a Masshole Lobster truck ranges from $84,700 to $160,150, including the franchise fee

4. Cousins Maine Lobster Rolls

Cousins Maine Lobster Rolls, a culinary sensation, offer a taste of New England through its succulent lobster meat, lightly tossed in mayo and served in a warm, buttery split-top roll. Founded by cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, their food trucks and restaurants deliver an authentic Maine experience nationwide.

To start a Cousins Maine Lobster Rolls food truck franchise, the initial franchise fee is $38,500, with an estimated total investment ranging from $$190,800 to $863,750. The required liquid capital to invest in a Cousins Maine Lobster food truck franchise is between $50,000 and $75,000.

5. Kono Pizza

Popular pizzeria chain meets convenient food truck with Kono Pizza, a brand that specializes cone-shaped pizzas. The franchise offers a variety of flavors, including classic margherita and pepperoni, as well as dessert cones filled with Nutella or fruit. Founded in 2004, Kono Pizza has expanded globally and has locations in more than 20 countries, providing excellent brand recognition and growth potential.

A prospective Kono Pizza franchise owner must pay a franchise fee starting at $25,000, although the cost per truck drops considerably the more units purchased. The total investment required ranges from $90,000 to $150,000.

6. Wing It On!

Wing It On! is a fast-growing food truck franchise that offers a variety of wings, sauces and sides. Founded in 2011, the chicken wing franchise has grown to include both traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant locations as well as mobile food trucks. Its food truck program allows franchisees to take their wings on the road and serve customers at various events and locations. The multiple business models available make this a scalable solution.

Wing It On! requires a franchise fee of $30,000, liquid capital of $150,000 and a total investment ranging from $210,000 to $440,000.

7. Bobablastic

Bobablastic is a franchise that specializes in bubble tea and other beverages. The bubble tea franchise offers a variety of flavors and customizable options for its drinks. Founded in 2019, Bobablastic has been expanding rapidly and currently has locations in multiple states.

To become a Bobablastic franchisee, the franchise fee is $25,000 and the total investment required ranges from $100,000 to $200,000. Franchisees are required to have a minimum liquid capital of $50,000.

8. Xpresso 2 U

Entrepreneurs who are interested in entering the coffee industry should consider a coffee cart with the Xpresso 2 U franchise. The mobile coffee franchise offers high-quality coffee, teas and snacks. Founded in 2003, the franchise offers a low-cost entry point with little required capital and financing opportunities. This extremely profitable opportunity can be afforded for just $1,000 a month, including the cost of financing the startup.

The Xpress 2 U franchise offers training, marketing support and a dedicated support team to help ensure the success of its franchisees. It’s a great option for entrepreneurs looking to enter the mobile food and beverage industry with a low startup cost.

9. Totally Nutz

Totally Nutz is a franchise specializing in freshly roasted cinnamon-glazed nuts. The franchise, which has been expanding for more than 30 years. It offers a unique product that is made on-site and appeals to a wide range of customers.

The franchise fee for partnering with Totally Nuts is $27,500, and the total initial investment to get started is only $57,000. Franchisees are required to have a minimum liquid capital of $25,000, however, the brand promises that many Totally Nutz owners can achieve a full return on their investments in the month of December alone.

10. Ice Cream Emergency

Do you reminisce about the ice cream truck from days of yore? Ice Cream Emergency is a food truck franchise offering customers of all ages a variety of ice cream and frozen desserts. The franchise features an assortment of flavors and toppings, as well as the option to create custom ice cream sandwiches.

Ice Cream Emergency franchisees pay a low royalty fee, and the total investment ranges from $139,700 to $228,400. Franchisees are required to have only $35,000 in liquid capital to get started.

11. Churro Mania

The Churro Mania franchise offers the opportunity to own and operate one of its successful food trucks, serving up churros and other Spanish treats. The franchise offers a variety of flavors and toppings, as well as coffee and hot chocolate.

The initial franchise fee for Churro Mania is $30,000 and the total initial investment starts at $184,450Franchisees are required to have a minimum liquid capital of $90,000.

12. The Rusty Dog

Some of the most successful food truck menus are also some of the simplest yet most classic. The Rusty Dog food truck franchise specializes in… you guessed it… corn dogs. The franchise offers efficient, scalable food truck franchise opportunities to those interested in operating their own businesses under the Rusty Dog brand.

The initial franchise fee to own a Rusty Dog food truck is $20,000, and the initial investment of $65,000 includes a custom-built trailer, although the exact cost will vary depending on the options selected. Later, the $5,000 royalty fee includes access to Rusty Dog’s marketing materials, website help, finance and payroll assistance and plenty of food truck guidance.

What are the benefits of a food truck business franchise?

If you’re considering starting a food truck business, owning a franchise can offer numerous benefits. From established brand recognition to support and guidance, keep reading for some of the advantages of owning a food truck franchise.

Proven Business Model

One of the biggest advantages of owning a food truck franchise is having access to a proven business model. Franchisors have already tested their concepts, refined their operations and identified the most effective strategies for success. This experience can help franchisees avoid common mistakes and increase their chances of profitability from the start.

Marketing Support

Marketing support is another major benefit of owning a food truck franchise. Franchisees can take advantage of the franchisor’s established brand, marketing materials and advertising strategies, helping them save time and money while building brand awareness and attracting loyal customers to their food trucks.

Lower Start up Costs

Owning a food truck franchise often requires lower startup costs compared to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. Food truck franchises typically have lower overhead costs, including rent, utilities and maintenance, which can make it easier for entrepreneurs to enter the food industry with a smaller initial investment and potentially faster ROI.

Independence

By owning a food truck franchise business, you get to be your own boss. Franchisees have the independence and flexibility to run their businesses while still benefiting from the support and guidance of the franchisor. This symbiotic relationship can be especially appealing to individuals looking to start a business without the risks and uncertainties of going it alone.

Rapidly Growing Industry

The food truck industry is growing rapidly, with more and more consumers seeking out mobile food options. As the industry continues to expand, owning a food truck franchise can provide entrepreneurs with a competitive advantage and the potential for long-term success.

Established Customer Base

Another key benefit of owning a food truck franchise is the potential to tap into an established customer base. Many franchises have a loyal following, making it easier for franchisees to attract and retain customers from day one. This brand recognition can help franchisees generate revenue and build a strong reputation faster than starting a business from scratch.

Ongoing Assistance

Food truck franchisees enjoy the benefit of ongoing assistance and support to franchisees. Franchisors typically offer comprehensive training and, marketing and operational support to help their franchisees succeed. This support can include everything from initial training to ongoing coaching and mentoring, helping franchisees navigate challenges and achieve their business goals.

Why Franchises are a Good Idea for First Time Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is a daunting task, especially for first-time entrepreneurs. There are so many things to consider, from choosing the right business model to marketing your product or service.

Of course, there are also some disadvantages to franchising, such as the high cost of entry and the strict rules that you may have to follow. However, for first-time entrepreneurs who are looking for a proven business model and a supportive environment, franchising can be a great option.

Here are 8 reasons why franchises are a good idea for first-time entrepreneurs:

  1. Reduced risk: Franchises have a lower failure rate than independent businesses. This is because they come with a proven business model and brand recognition.
  2. Access to training and support: Franchises typically offer training and support to their franchisees. This can help you get up and running quickly and avoid making costly mistakes.
  3. Brand awareness: Franchises come with an established brand name, which can give you a competitive advantage. Customers are more likely to trust a business that they’re familiar with.
  4. Economies of scale: Franchises can benefit from economies of scale, which means that they can buy supplies and services at a lower cost than independent businesses.
  5. National or international reach: Franchises can have a national or even international reach, which can give you the opportunity to grow your business quickly.
  6. Exit strategy: Franchises often have an exit strategy in place, which means that you can sell your franchise if you decide to retire or move on to other opportunities.
  7. Community of support: Franchisees often form a community of support, which can be a great resource for new franchisees.
  8. Reputation for quality: Franchises have a reputation for quality, which can help you attract customers and build your business.

If you’re considering starting a business, franchising is a great option to consider.

FAQs

Are there any downsides to food truck franchises?

While owning a food truck franchise offers numerous benefits, there are also some disadvantages to consider. Some of the potential drawbacks of owning a food truck franchise include:

  • Franchise fees and ongoing royalties – Franchisees are required to pay an initial franchise fee and ongoing royalties to the franchisor. These costs can be significant and eat into profits.
  • Lack of flexibility – Franchisees might be required to follow strict guidelines and operational procedures set by the franchisor. This structure can limit the franchisee’s ability to make their own decisions and adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Limited creativity – Franchisees might have limited freedom to create their own menu items or marketing campaigns. These limits can be frustrating for entrepreneurs who want to express their creativity and stand out from the competition.

What is the average initial investment for a food truck franchise?

The average initial investment for a food truck franchise can vary widely depending on the brand, the location and the level of support provided by the franchisor. In fact, the total cost to get a food truck franchise business up and running, which usually includes costs like the amount to buy a food truck, equipment, inventory, marketing and other startup expenses, can range anywhere from less than $20,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How much do food trucks make in a year?

The amount of money a food truck can make each year varies greatly depending on the truck’s location, menu offerings and customer demand. According to Toast, American food trucks average between $240,000 and $504,000 in sales each year.

However, some food trucks can make significantly more, while others might struggle to break even. Ultimately, the success of a food truck business depends on a range of factors, including the quality of the food, the selection of profitable food truck items, the effectiveness of marketing and branding, as well as the ability to generate a loyal customer base.

How can you get into the food truck business?

If you’ve always wondered how to start a food truck business, you should consider investing in a food truck franchise opportunity. Buying a franchise food truck can be a great option for entrepreneurs who want to start a food truck business but who might not have experience in the industry. Franchises offer support and guidance, as well as an established brand and business model. To start a food truck franchise, entrepreneurs can research different options and reach out to franchisors for more information.

Why do many food trucks fail?

Food truck businesses can fail for a variety of reasons. One common reason for failure is a lack of proper planning and preparation. It’s important for entrepreneurs to have a solid food truck business plan that covers everything from menu development to financing and marketing.

Other factors that can contribute to failure include poor sales alone, poor location selection, a lack of differentiation from competitors, as well as ineffective marketing and branding. Likewise, food truck entrepreneurs might struggle with managing cash flow and other financial issues. To avoid these pitfalls, it’s important for food truck entrepreneurs to do their research and seek out resources and guidance as they build their businesses.

Image: Envato Elements


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Samantha Lile Samantha Lile is a staff writer for Small Business Trends as well as freelance writer and journalist who contributes to a variety of web publications from her home office in the heart of the Ozarks.

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