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Top 19 Chicken Franchises: Revenues, Cost & Stats (2023)

If you’re considering getting into the chicken restaurant industry, buying a franchise can be a great option. Yet, which franchise should you choose? There are a number of chicken restaurant franchises you can choose from, each with their own pros and cons.

In this article we are giving you our top 9 picks of the best chicken restaurant franchises in the US.

For each we’re giving you the key financials: the average initial investment cost and Average Unit Volume (AUV). Also, if you want to dig deeper, you’ll find the links to our complete review for each franchise below.

FranchiseUS franchised unitsInvestmentAUVNet worthLiquid capital
KFC3,9061,802,0001,567,0001,500,000750,000
Popeyes2,7361,096,0001,445,0001,000,000500,000
Chick-Fil-A2,6281,364,0004,227,000--
Wingstop1,498632,0001,460,0001,200,000600,000
Church’s Chicken765535,0002,229,0001,000,000300,000
Buffalo Wild Wings7311,195,0001,395,0001,500,000750,000
Zaxby’s5353,547,0002,534,0001,000,000500,000
Bojangles’ Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits4961,658,0001,801,0001,000,000500,000
Chicken Salad Chick205651,0001,202,000750,000250,000
Golden Chick199363,000918,0002,000,000425,000
Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken124661,0001,423,000500,000350,000
Bonchon111820,0001,578,0001,100,000525,000

KFC

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
3,906$1,802,000$1,567,000

KFC is a leading international American fast-food restaurant chain with 5,200 stores in the U.S. and more than 145 countries worldwide.

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC was founded in 1930 by Colonel Harland Sanders and known then as Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1991 it adopted the abbreviated, iconic name, KFC.

Its original product was pressure-fried chicken pieces, seasoned with the Sanders signature recipe of “11 herbs and spices.”

Today, it serves fried chicken and other chicken products such as chicken fillets, sandwiches, and wraps. It also offers salads and side dishes such as French fries and coleslaw, desserts and soft drinks.

The first KFC franchise opened in Utah in 1952 and has never stopped since then. Its parent company is Yum! Brands that also own Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

Today, KFC has over 25,000 restaurants and stores in over 145 countries globally, with more than 5,200 units in the US alone. It is the second-largest fast-food chain after McDonald’s.


Popeyes

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
2,736$1,096,000$1,445,000

Popeyes is an American multinational fast food chain restaurant specializing in fried chicken. Apart from fried chicken, Popeyes sells fried chicken, seafood, Cajun cuisine, vegetables and biscuits.

The company was established in 1972 and today, it operates in 46 US states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia and 30 other countries. 

Of the 3,705 restaurants operating globally, only about 50 of them are company-owned and the rest are franchised.


Chick-fil-A

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
2,628$1,364,000$4,227,000

Chick-fil-A is an American fast food restaurant chain. It is one of the largest and the largest fast food restaurant chain specializing in chicken sandwiches. There are 2,873 restaurants operated by the brand, most of which are located in the United States.

Except for Alaska, Vermont, and Hawaii, Chick-fil-A operates in 47 US states and Washington D.C. Outside of America, the company has several restaurants operating in Canada.

Before Chick-fil-A came into existence, the founder S. Truett Cathy founded Dwarf House in 1946, which primarily focused on steaks and hamburgers. Today, there are 12 Dwarf House restaurants operational in the US. Chick-fil-A was founded in 1967 after Dwarf House became a success. The first Chick-fil-A restaurant was opened in Atlanta.

Apart from chicken sandwich, grilled nuggets are one of the most popular menu items of Chick-fil-A, and the company spent a whopping $50 million dollars and 7 years to perfect the recipe. Most of the money went into designing a special grill by Chick-fil-A scientists.

Chick-fil-A is a privately owned company, and it will never go public because of the last wish of the founder. Cathy actually signed a contract with his children which dictates that the chain will remain a private company, but his children have the freedom to sell off the company.

According to Zippia, Chick-fil-A has 35,574 employees and the company clocked a revenue of $11.3 billion in 2021.


Wingstop

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
1,498$632,000$1,460,000

Wingstop is a leading casual fast-food chain store with over 1,700 locations worldwide, including the United States and 13 other countries.

The chain is an aviation-themed restaurant founded by Antonio Swad in Garland, Texas, in 1994.

It serves cooked-to-order, hand-sauced, and tossed chicken wings, sides, chicken tenders, French fries, and soft drinks.

The Wingstop franchise journey began in 1997 under Wingstop Restaurant LLC, headquartered in Addison, Texas. Its first international restaurant was in Mexico, and by 2002, it had already sold a billion chicken wings..!

In 2003, Gemini investors bought the chain store and sold it to Roark Capital Group in 2010. It went public in 2015.

Today, Wingstop is the largest fast-casual restaurant in the world that specializes in chicken wings.


Church’s Chicken

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
765$535,000$2,229,000

Church’s Chicken is an American fast-food fried chicken chain with over 1,500 locations in the US and 25 countries globally.

Church’s Chicken serves chicken combos, family meals, and tenders. It also offers a limited menu of lunch and dinner meals, such as flavorful chicken, both original and spicy, “Tender Strips,” and southern-style chicken sandwiches with classic sides and hand-made from scratch biscuits.

The chain was founded in 1952 by George W. Church Sr., who opened its first restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.

It started franchising in 1967, and its first international locations were in Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Puerto Rico. The brand is known as “Texas Chicken” outside the US.


Buffalo Wild Wings

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
731$1,195,000$1,395,000

Buffalo Wild Wings is an American sports and entertainment-themed dining restaurant headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. 

It serves the US, Mexico, Panama, India, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. 

Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 in Columbus, Ohio, by James Disbrow and Scott Lowery and specializes in chicken wings, sandwiches, burgers, sauces, and beer. It began franchising in 1991, long before merging with Inspire Brand

Today, the sports bar brand has 1,258 locations spread across 50 US states and 10 other countries across the globe.


Zaxby’s

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
535$3,547,000$2,534,000

Zaxby’s is a leading American casual fast-chain company that has over 915 stores in the US and is still growing.

Zaxby’s was founded in 1990 by Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley in Statesboro, Georgia.

Operating as a fast-casual dining restaurant, Zaxby’s offers made-to-order chicken fingers, chicken wings, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. In addition, it offers teriyaki, BBQ, and hot honey mustard with its signature dipping sauces.

The franchising journey began in 1994, when it opened its first franchise in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It operates under Zaxby’s SPE Franchisor LLC, with its headquarters in Athens, Georgia.

Bojangles

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
496$1,658,000$1,801,000

Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits (also referred to as “Bojangles”) is an American fast food chain of restaurants that offers Cajun-seasoned fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits.

The chain was founded in 1977 by Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it is headquartered.

It offers biscuit sandwiches, Cajun chicken filet biscuits, country ham, eggs, cheese, bacon, country-fried steak, bone-in-fried chicken, French fries, dirty rice, coleslaw, and green beans.

The brand began franchising in 1978, and today it has more than 760 units in 14 US states. Out of these, 400 stores are franchise-owned.


Chicken Salad Chick

Chicken Salad Chick
US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
205$651,000$1,202,000

Chicken Salad Chick is an American chicken salad and casual fast-food restaurant headquartered in Auburn, Alabama.

It offers a variety of sandwiches, desserts, soups, cheese, sides, and chicken salads made with fresh, quality ingredients.

The chain was founded in 2008 by Stacy Brown. Later in 2012 Chicken Salad Chick started franchising and today has over 220 restaurants in 17 US states.


Golden Chick

Golden Chick logo
US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
199$363,000$918,000

Golden Chick is an American fast-food restaurant with over 210 stores in the US.

It was founded in 1967 by Howard and Jacque Walker in San Marcos, Texas.

The chain offers chicken tenders, combos, salads, sides, sandwiches, and beverages.

Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, Golden Chick began franchising in 1972, and it is one of the fastest-growing chicken franchises in the US.


Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken

Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken
US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
124$661,000$1,423,000

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken is an American casual dining chain restaurant best known for its home-style chicken, biscuits, and other complimentary items.

The chain was founded in 1966 by Lee Cummings and Harold Omer as a “Harold-Take-Home” restaurant in Lima, Ohio, where Cummings first introduced his famous chicken recipe.

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken began franchising in 1967 and today has over 130 stores in the US. It is now a subsidiary of Artemis Restaurant Corp., headquartered in Shalimar, Florida.


Bonchon

Bonchon logo
US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume
111$820,000$1,578,000

Bonchon, meaning “my Hometown” in Korean, is a South Korean international fast-food restaurant headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

The chain was founded in Busan, South Korea, in 2002 by Jinduk Seo. It offers Korean fried chicken, starters, desserts, sides and sauces.

Bonchon’s franchising journey started in 2006 when its first location in the United States opened at Fort Lee, New Jersey. Currently it has 120 stores across the US.


Chester’s

Chester’s is a leading quick-serve fried chicken restaurant chain with in-line locations in shopping malls and food courts.

It was founded by O.W. Giles in 1952 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

It offers quality, marinated, double-hand-breaded fresh chicken made using a long-time family recipe. In addition, it offers sandwiches, desserts, sauces, wraps, tenders and biscuits. Chester’s began franchising in 2004 and as of 2022, the chain has grown to over 1,200 stores in the USA and Canada.


Champ’s Chicken

Champs Chicken is a franchise of fried chicken convenience stores owned by Pro Food Systems Inc., headquartered in Holts Summit, Missouri.

Champs Chicken was founded in 1999 by Shawn and Julie Burcham in a garage in Willard, Missouri. The brand is best known for its menu of chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, boneless wings and sides including fries and mashed potatoes.

The store began franchising in 2013 and since then Champs Chicken has grown into one of the leading fried chicken franchises in the US. Whether looking to grab a delicious comfort meal or snack on the go, customers have the convenience of Champs Chickens stores spread from coast to coast across 40+ states.

The brand presents its franchisees with flexible location options, including convenience stores and grocery stores, as well as standalone and endcap locations that can be designed into drive-thru locations. Today, the brand has 424 locations in the US, all of which are franchise-owned.


Epic Wings

Epic Wings is a chain of chicken wing restaurants based in San Diego, California, owned by Sacco Restaurants Inc.

It was founded in 1982 in San Diego, California, by the Sacco family, who opened the first location offering Buffalo wings, previously known as Wings N’ Things. Leaning on its philosophy of “all things fresh and authentic,” Epic Wings started by offering free samples to the once reluctant customers who never wanted to try something new and later opened more than 20 locations in California and its neighborhoods.

The brand takes pride in its tradition of using only fresh, never frozen, and daily made-from-scratch ingredients, which continues not only to set it apart from similar franchises but also gives it the appeal of an industry-leading brand.

Its menu features traditional boneless wings, best-selling tenderloin strips, pizza sticks, fries and salads, plus homemade breadsticks and dips. Epic Wings began franchising in 2018 and today it has 26 locations in the US.


Wing Zone

Wing Zone is a chain of restaurants specializing in chicken wings, with its headquarters in Las Vegas. It serves boneless wings, tenders, burgers, sandwiches and salads.

The franchise was founded in 1991 by two students, Matt Friedman and Adam Scott, while they were at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.

Using their fraternity kitchen, developing their secret recipes and selling their products on campus at night, Friedman and Scots managed to grow their university dream business into one of the fastest-growing franchise concepts in the country.

Wing Zone continues to position itself as a franchise of the future through an evolving menu, a fresh look, new technology and proprietary cooking methods as it attracts partners and builds lasting relationships with communities in its new locations. Wing Zone began franchising in 1998 and as of 2022 it has 60 locations worldwide, with 34 franchises in the US, 24 international locations and 1 company-owned location.


Wings ETC

Wings ETC. is a sports and family-friendly grill and pub driven by its passion for exceptional food, a wholesome ambiance, sports and entertainment. 

It was founded by Jim Weaver in 1994 in the South Bend, Indiana. The founder’s goal was to create “happiness centers” with big TVs, offering great food and cold beverages in a friendly way, something that the brand continues to instill in its would-be partners.

Its restaurants are designed with a family-oriented sports theme with multiple, visible-from-everywhere flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports and programs and offer a wide variety of chicken wings, barbecued ribs, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, subs and salads (for on-premises dining and carry-out) and beverages, including beer, wine and liquor. In addition, it offers kid-friendly, arcade-quality video games.

Headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Wings ETC. began selling franchises in 2005 and currently the brand has grown to 77 locations across the country with 55 franchises.


Williams Chicken

Williams Chicken is a chain of fried chicken restaurants headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

It was founded in 1987 by Hiawatha Williams, who opened the first store’s drive-thru eatery in Dallas. The company’s philosophy of “To Serve, Grow, and Give Back to the Community™ has been its driving force, coming from a humble beginning and growing and expanding in the South, East and West Texas, along with Northern Louisiana, for the last 30+ years.

Williams Chicken has been true to its mission, earning a place in the hearts of its customers as the place for “Great Chicken, Cooked Fresh, Never Frozen”. It continues to offer affordable golden home-style fried chicken for large families, entrepreneurial opportunities to businesses and franchise owners and major community initiatives to support youth and education programs under its “give back spirit.”

Currently, the brand’s expansion focuses on locations that offer off-road visibility. Williams Chicken began franchising in 1987 and currently has over 40 locations in the US.


El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco is a quick-serve American chain restaurant that specializes in Mexican-style grilled chicken. It also offers tacos, burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas.

Headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, the brand was founded in 1975 by Juan Francisco Ochoa in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico.

The first American restaurant was opened in 1980 in Los Angeles, California. El Pollo Loco started its franchising journey in 1987 and today the brand has over 485 restaurants in six states in the US.

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