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Captain D’s Franchises Profits, Costs & Stats (2023)

One of the very few seafood franchises, Captain D’s is also one of the most popular: since they started to franchise in 1969 they have expanded to 540 restaurants across the US today.

With a relatively low competition and such a strong brand name, investing in a Captain D’s franchise seems like a good idea. But before you go ahead, make sure to understand the financials.

Don’t worry: we did the work for you in this article. With an average annual turnover of $1,067,816 and a 25% profit margin, it does seem like it’s worth investing the initial required investment of $982,778. Want to know more? Let’s dive in!

Key stats

Franchise fee$35,000
Royalty fee4.5%
Marketing fee2.0%
Investment (mid-point)$1,132,000
Average sales$1,092,000
Sales to investment ratio1.0x
Payback period7 years
Minimum net worth$1,000,000
Minimum liquid capital$350,000
Captain D's business plan

Captain D’s Franchise Business Plan

All the stats: startup costs, profits, breakeven, etc.

5-year financial projections built with the FDD

Excellent 4.8/5 based on 70 reviews

Excellent 4.8/5 based on 70 reviews

What is Captain D’s?

Captain D’s is an American fast-food chain owned by private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

The chain was founded on August 15, 1969, in Donelson, Tennessee, by Raymond L. Danner Sr. It began as Mr. D’s Seafood and Hamburgers and changed into Captain D’s in 1974.

It specializes in seafood and serves fried fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, and chicken meals, platters, and sandwiches. Captain D’s began franchising in 1969 and has over 540 restaurants in the US.

Captain D’s franchises: pros and cons


  • Pre-opening training: The franchisor offers franchisees comprehensive training on the business concept, products, operations, customer service, and staff management. It also trains the franchisees to carry out a successful grand opening and provides ongoing online training for staff to run their restaurants smoothly.
  • Real estate support: With an experienced real estate team, the brand offers franchisees expert real estate assistance whether building from scratch or converting an existing restaurant. Franchisees get expert advice on viable business locations, site selection, restaurant plans and approval, construction, and branding.
  • Multiple franchise options: The brand combines market-smart prototypes with its conversion efficiency, making restaurant development easy. It offers franchisees the drive-through and carryout-only format or the dine-in and drive-thru options to deliver sales-to-investment ratios.
  • Streamlined supply chain: The brand has a central supply chain. Franchisees can order supplies and inventory online and from a universal supply chain controlled by the franchisor. This guarantees the franchisees consistent, high-quality, and affordable seafood products that add value to their restaurants and customers.
  • Corporate and management support: The brand offers solid and continuous support to its franchisees to establish and operate their restaurants successfully. Also, franchisees get constant guidance from qualified brand managers and successful industry leaders. This is in form of meetings and conventions, safety and security procedures, seminars, and field operations.
  • Passive investment: The franchise allows for absentee ownership. Franchisees can run their restaurant alongside other investment ventures.


  • No exclusive territory protection: The franchisor does not grant the franchisees an exclusive territory to operate in. Franchisees can face competition from franchises granted by the parent company or from competitive channels it controls.
  • No franchise financing: The brand does not offer direct or indirect financing to franchisees. Also, it does not guarantee any lease, note, or grant for any lender.

How much does a Captain D’s franchise cost?

To open a Captain D’s franchise you would pay around $1,132,000 as the initial required investment, including an initial franchise fee of $35,000.

As the investment amount is an average, it may vary depending on the type of restaurant you choose. Indeed Captain D’s offers different types of restaurants as a franchise:

  • 44-seat Prototype ($1,159,500 – $1,354,200)
  • 22-seat Prototype ($1,037,300 – $1,252,270)
  • Express Prototype ($898,600 – $1,091,700)

How does the payment help you to open a new restaurant? Well, the initial investment helps you as a kick-start for your new business. This means the investment amount covers all types of startup costs needed to begin a restaurant.

Indeed, in addition to the $35,000 initial franchise fee you would also pay for:

  • Formation costs: real estate, building, leasehold improvements, training expenses, equipment, computer systems, etc.
  • Pre-opening costs: incorporation fees, legal fees, business license fees, utility deposits, etc.
  • Operating costs: inventory, insurance, and working capital for the first 3 months.
Type of ExpenditureLowHigh
Initial Franchise Fee$35,000$35,000
Formation Costs$838,900$940,790
Pre-Opening Costs$5,000$9,000
Operating Costs$57,000$123,000
Source: 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document
Captain D's business plan

Captain D’s Franchise Business Plan

All the stats: startup costs, profits, breakeven, etc.

5-year financial projections built with the FDD

Excellent 4.8/5 based on 70 reviews

Excellent 4.8/5 based on 70 reviews

What’s the turnover of a Captain D’s restaurant?

On average, a Captain D’s franchise makes $1,092,000 in sales per year.

The sales number is the annual average sales of all franchised restaurants operating in 2021.

Here is the break down by one-third range of sales:

How profitable is a Captain D’s franchise?

An average Captain D’s franchise makes $271,225 in profits per year. This represents an adjusted EBITDA margin of 25% of sales.

The 25% adjusted EBITDA margin is in line compared to similar franchises as per our intelligence (~25-27% industry average). Although the labor cost is lower (25% sales vs 29% industry average), but the COGS is higher (30% vs 25%), and as a result, the margin is in line.

Note that Captain D’s doesn’t disclose any financial information about franchised restaurants regarding costs, neither they disclose any information on rent. Indeed, we had to use the industry average for rent (8%) and company-owned restaurant data for COGS and labor costs.

Profit-and-lossAmount ($)% sales
Royalty + marketing fees$(123,867)11.6%
Adjusted EBITDA$271,225~25%
Source: Franchise Disclosure Document

Is a Captain D’s franchise a good investment?

So with that in mind, should you invest in a Captain D’s franchised restaurant? Are the future profits worth investing $982,778 upfront?

To answer this question, we must look at the payback period: the number of years it takes for an investment (like buying a franchise) to repay itself with the profits.

We found that the payback period for Captain D’s is 6.1 years on average. This is a good payback and therefore a good investment. Think about it: it would take you only 6 years to reimburse your investors, the bank and/or yourself with the future profits of the business.

Want to start your own Captain D’s franchised restaurant? When applying, make sure to prepare a set of pro forma financial statements. Save time and download our business plan template below, including 5-year financial projections with all you need to get your franchise funded.

Captain D's business plan

Captain D’s Franchise Business Plan

All the stats: startup costs, profits, breakeven, etc.

5-year financial projections built with the FDD

Excellent 4.8/5 based on 70 reviews

Excellent 4.8/5 based on 70 reviews

How does it compare vs. other franchises?

FranchiseInvestment ($)Sales ($)Payback (years)Min. net worth ($)Min. liquid capital ($)
Dunkin' Donuts,0001,056,5211.44.9500,000250,000
Krispy Kreme,0003,400,0004.11.62,000,000300,000
Little Caesars,022,850798,1130.88.5350,000150,000
Steak 'n Shake, Milshakes815,6261,346,3321.74.01,500,000500,000
Crumbl Cookies,2241,582,0903.12.1300,000150,000
Taco Bell,4131,650,0003.61.91,500,000750,000
Smoothie King,108573,2690.88.0300,000100,000
Jersey Mike's,3231,220,5862.14.7300,000100,000
Nothing Bundt Cakes,6501,307,2802.42.7600,000150,000
Jimmy John's,650874,8451.73.9300,00080,000
Texas Roadhouse,209,5002,955,5340.79.5n.a.200,000
Kung Fu Tea tea250,125353,2371.44.7n.a.25,000
Burger King,242,9501,215,9701.06.81,500,000500,000
Sonic Drive-In,467,0831,617,0001.16.01,000,000500,000
Panera Bread,290,5002,599,4321.15.97,500,0003,000,000
Pizza Hut,575906,9111.06.9700,000350,000
Dairy Queen Cream1,404,2201,143,1800.88.2750,000400,000
Jack in the Box,195,8001,755,5030.812.51,000,000250,000
Papa John’s,6951,101,1273.12.1750,000250,000
Five Guys,2251,203,3662.42.8500,000250,000
Carl’s Jr.,860,3351,419,5160.88.71,000,000500,000
Baskin-Robbins Cream465,100316,8150.79.8250,000125,000
Applebee’s American5,137,9662,356,9650.514.51,000,000500,000
Denny's American3,785,4591,639,5490.415.41,000,000500,000
Papa Murphy's,174580,4411.35.0275,000125,000
Auntie Anne's,692343,1351.55.6300,000100,000
Firehouse Subs,186888,3561.44.6350,000100,000
Tropical Smoothie Cafe,500961,9692.23.0350,000125,000
Marco’s Pizza,625895,5232.03.3400,000100,000
Cold Stone Creamery Cream310,956417,5881.35.0250,000100,000
Church’s Chicken,195,1471,395,0881.25.71,000,000300,000
Moe’s Southwest Grill,3701,013,3611.35.21,000,000100,000
Tim Hortons,242,7501,188,2401.07.0500,000100,000
Checkers & Rally's,8471,039,7731.25.4750,000250,000
Charleys Philly Steaks,806786,2331.54.3500,000100,000
Buffalo Wild Wings,546,9002,534,1480.79.31,500,000750,000
Rita's Ice Cream215,839248,3401.25.8300,000100,000
A&W Restaurants,750851,2121.16.2350,000150,000
Hungry Howie’s Pizza,682806,8991.93.5750,000200,000
McAlister’s Deli,424,9631,865,8611.35.11,000,000500,000
Round Table Pizza,2501,037,8161.35.0500,000200,000
Qdoba Mexican Eats,250972,9621.54.5
Taco John’s,119,0001,124,9801.06.61,000,000400,000
Scooter’s Coffee,143,250797,1010.79.6500,000200,000
Einstein Bros. Bagels,075885,0111.25.71,000,000536,500
Great American Cookies,275452,7711.25.7250,000100,000
Wienerschnitzel dogs873,300880,9801.06.6600,000250,000
Blaze Pizza,4501,096,4321.37.9500,000300,000
Wetzel's Pretzels,571748,8572.03.4300,00050,000
Pizza Ranch,268,3001,174,0880.418.61,000,000297,000
Del Taco,406,8501,345,3411.07.02,000,000500,000
Schlotzsky’s, Salads1,102,9331,053,3330.322.21,000,000300,000
Captain D’s,7781,067,8160.419.01,000,000350,000
Biggby Coffee,575648,3520.320.0300,000100,000
Which Wich,375281,8860.322.2500,000150,000
Marble Slab Creamery Cream407,360251,0520.416.7250,000100,000
Mountain Mike's Pizza,900865,7130.320.0300,000100,000
Huddle House,743712,4280.513.3600,000300,000
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue,350612,9210.333.3500,000150,000
Chicken Salad Chick, Salads651,0001,202,0200.320.0750,000250,000
Golden Chick,975917,6092.52.62,000,000425,000
Waba Grill,000466,5361.06.51,000,000250,000
Bruster’s Ice Cream Cream663,925466,6960.79.5375,000150,000

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