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Moe’s Southwest Grill Franchises: Sales, Costs & Profits [2023]

If you’ve thought about opening a Mexican food restaurant franchise, you must have considered Moe’s Southwest Grill franchises. And with a price tag of (only) $792,370, opening a new Moe’s Southwest Grill can seem attractive to some (vs. $1.6 million on average for similar fast food franchises).

But before you open a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise, make sure you understand the profit potential and the costs too. In other words, you would need to understand whether this is a profitable business. That’s what we will look at in this article.

We will answer here questions like how much you can make with a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise, how much it really costs, and whether you should invest in this business. Let’s dive in!

Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise: key figures

Franchise fee$30,500
Royalty fee5.0%
Marketing fee4.0%
Investment (mid-point)$792,370
Average annual sales$1,013,361
Investment to sales ratio1.3x
Investment payback*7.8 years (good)
Minimum net worth$1,000,000
Minimum liquid capital$100,000
* using 10% net profit margin

🔎 How does Moe’s Southwest Grill compare vs. other franchises? Check the ranking

What is Moe’s Southwest Grill?

Moe’s Southwest Grill is an American fast casual restaurant chain owned by Focus Brands, along with Cinnabon, Carvel, McAlister’s Deli, Auntie Anne’s, Jamba, and Schlotzsky’s.

The chain was founded by H. Martin Sprock III in 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia.

It serves mainly Mexican-style cuisine and other southwestern fare such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salads, stacks, burrito bowls, and house-made seasonal salsas. It also offers customized menu items, and every order comes with chips and salsa.

Moe is an acronym for “musicians, outlaws, and entertainers,” and musicians form part of its restaurant design.

Moe’s Southwest Grill began franchising in 2001, and now it has 650 stores in the US and globally.

Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise: pros and cons


  • Solid support: The brand has a qualified in-house team of experts to help franchisees establish, build, and operate successful restaurants. It offers them site selection support, design, and construction, grand opening support, field operations, food handling, security and safety, human resources and financials, etc.
  • Comprehensive training: The brand prepares franchisees for success by educating them on the brand and the market industry. It offers 170 hours of on-the-job training and 40 hours of classroom training.
  • Purchasing power: Franchisees can leverage the brand’s popularity and purchasing power. Franchisees enjoy economies of scale by ordering supplies online from a central supply chain at reasonable commercial rates.
  • Different revenue streams: The brand offers different off-premises revenue streams for franchisees to increase their income and profitability. These include catering, online ordering, and third-party delivery. Franchisees can also choose to operate a flexible franchise format that suits their interests, such as free-standing, in-line, drive-through, or food court models.
  • Territory protection granted: The franchisor offers its franchisees exclusive territory protection, though it is limited. During the agreement, the franchisor does not grant any franchisees the right to operate a Moe’s restaurant or a competing channel in the area of responsibility.
  • Marketing support: Moe’s brand helps its franchisee with a dedicated marketing plan and support team. The franchisor helps newly launched franchisees with a comprehensive, high-resolution product imagery library, menu development, pricing strategies, local market toolkits, R&D projects for local product introductions, and sales trends and analysis guidance.
  • Real estate and construction support. As a franchisee, you get assistance with site selection, restaurant design, and construction. The brand also assists in new market launches and construction plans.


  • No financing: The franchisor does not directly or indirectly finance its franchisees for the franchise fee, trade fixtures, or inventory. Franchisees are referred to third-party financiers not affiliated with Moe’s. The brand also does not guarantee any obligation, note, or lease of any lender on behalf of franchisees.
  • Not a passive investment: The franchise does not offer a passive investment opportunity. It requires franchisees to be fully involved in the daily operations of the restaurant. It is also not an ideal part-time business model.
  • Prior restaurant experience: The brand requires franchisees to have past multi-restaurant experience as restaurant owners or operators.

How much do you need to invest for a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise?

You have to invest around $792,370 to open a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise restaurant.

The investment amount is an average: indeed, it varies based on many factors such as land and building size, location and development needs; construction, equipment specifications etc.

In addition to the initial franchise fee of $30,500 which you must pay to the franchisor, you would pay for the building costs, furniture and fixtures, equipment, inventory, training expenses, etc.

Here’s the full breakdown of costs you may expect (with low and high estimates) as per the latest Franchise Disclosure Document.

Building costs$170,000 – $500,000
Equipment package$80,000 – $125,000
Furniture$12,000 – $30,000
Computer system$12,500 – $46,500
Office supplies $10,000 – $25,000
Working capital (first 3 months)$25,000 – $50,000
Other$165,400 – $333,340
Total$474,900 – $1,109,840
Source: 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document

What’s the turnover of a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise?

On average, a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise makes $1,013,361 in sales per year. This is the average gross sales of traditional restaurants in 2020.

Note this number is 11.4% lower vs. 2019 ($1,143,523) as the restaurants were temporary closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How profitable is a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise?

Luckily, unlike many franchises, Moe’s Southwest Grill does provide a lot of insightful data on the profitability of its restaurants which we have summarized below.

If we exclude the performance of 2020 (pandemic), the average Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise makes $114,669 in profits per year. This represents a 10% EBITDA margin.

Note that the numbers given below represent the performance of traditional restaurants only: these are restaurants located in strip shopping centers, power centers and street-level retail.

Profit-and-lossAmount *% of sales
Labor costs$288,58225.2%
Operating expenses$189,36816.5%
* data as of 2020 // Source: 2022 FDD

Is a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise a good investment?

By comparing the investment cost of $792,370 with the profits you can make with this business (assuming 10% of sales), we obtain a payback period of 7.8 years.

This means it would take you as a franchisee 7.8 years on average to recoup your original investment to start a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise.

Whilst this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s not excellent either. We consider that a good investment should be anywhere at or below 5 years for restaurant franchises like Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Yet, please note that this is based on the average performance of the Moe’s Southwest Grill franchises. Therefore, your restaurant may perform better, or worse. If you’re preparing a franchise application, download our business plan template below and access a pre-built financial plan as well as insightful reports (breakeven point, payback, return on investment and more).

moe's southwest grill franchise business plan

Download the Moe’s Southwest Grill business plan and get your franchise funded

Including a 5-year financial plan built with the latest Franchise Disclosure Document numbers

How does it compare vs. other franchises?

FranchiseInvestment ($)Sales ($)S/I RatioPayback (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