The A&W story dates back to 1919, when Roy W. Allen opened a small beverage stand in Lodi, California. Soon after, he partnered with Frank Wright to form the A & W Root Beer company. The two began opening restaurants that served their signature soda, along with hot dogs, hamburgers, and other fast food fare. In 1925, they started franchising and now A&W locations can be found around the world.
Start-up Cost: $912K - 1.62M
Ace Hardware started as a collection of stores opened by a handful of retailers who decided to pool their efforts in order to more effectively compete with bigger and more well-known hardware retailers.The idea worked, and the Ace name has stood the test of time. For decades, Ace has continued to expand and there are currently about 4,600 Ace Hardware stores throughout the U.S. and abroad. The brand has even grown to include its own line of products.
Start-up Cost: $750K - 1000K
Margaret and Carl Karcher started their fast food empire with a simple hot dog stand they operated in Los Angeles. After successfully running several of these stands, the couple tried their hand at something a little bigger and found continued success with their restaurant called Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue. Carl’s Jr. stores - smaller versions of the regular-sized Carl’s Drive In - were first opened by the Karchers in the 1950’s and the rest is history. Carl’s Jr. is now one of the most popular fast food chains with nearly 1,500 locations worldwide.
Start-up Cost: $690K - 1.53M
The first Famous Dave’s restaurant was opened in 1994 near Hayward, Wisconsin by founder Dave Anderson. Locals loved the Southern-style barbecue and the variety of specialty sauces. Before long, Dave started franchising and the restaurants spread quickly through several states in the U.S. The barbecue chain now includes almost 200 locations.
Start-up Cost: $630.25K - 4.23M
Goddard schools offer an in-depth and multi-faceted approach to early childhood education, following models set forth by prominent professionals in the field of child development. With over 400 locations and counting, Goddard Systems uses an open classroom style that encourages family participation and interactive lessons plans as part of their curriculum.
Start-up Cost: $701.4K - 721.4K
Gold’s Gym has been around since 1965 when it first opened along California’s famous Venice Beach. Gold’s catered to serious bodybuilders and became known as a hotspot for intense weight training enthusiasts. Gold’s began franchising in 1980, and has grown exponentially. There are more than 700 Gold’s Gyms around the world, and the company also sells its own line of clothing through its franchises.
Start-up Cost: $898.5K - 3.89M
Golden Chick was founded in 1967 in San Marcos, Texas by entrepreneur Howard Walker. He called his restaurant Golden Fried Chicken and served fried chicken and fixings to area customers. In 1972, Golden Fried Chicken became a franchise and continued to spread through the U.S. In 1996, as part of a corporate overhaul, the restaurant was renamed Golden Chick. Nearly 100 of the fast fried chicken restaurants are open today.
Start-up Cost: $634.6K - 1.21M
The Vap family opened HuHot Mongolian Grill in Missoula, Montana in 1999. The Vaps always envisioned expanding their concept, after gaining valuable experience as franchisees of a popular pizza chain. By 2002, the first HuHot franchise had been awarded and the chain has grown to nearly 40 locations in the Western United States.
Start-up Cost: $782K - 982K
J.D. Byrider was founded in 1979 by James F. DeVoe, after years of experience selling used cars. He set up a system to help people with less-than-perfect credit finance a vehicle in their price range. The J.D. Byrider model first figures out a customer’s financial situation, and then helps them to find a vehicle they can afford. Franchised in 1989, J.D. Byrider has more than 130 dealerships operating in the United States.
Start-up Cost: $675.48K - 5.21M
Named after a pirate in the Robert Louis Stevenson classic “Treasure Island,” Long John Silver’s first opened in 1969 in Lexington, Kentucky. The nautical-themed fish restaurant served up fried seafood fast-food style. The brand has undergone many changes over the years but each of its nearly 1,000 locations retains the distinctive seaside look and menu.
Start-up Cost: $833K - 1.43M
First opened in 1990, there are now about 200 Palm Beach Tan locations in 31 states in the U.S. Palm Beach tanning salons were unique when they first opened in that there are several different types of tanning beds available to customers, along with an array of related products they can purchase. Employees are also attentive, and able to give tanning advice to customers. Many salons now follow the Palm Beach model.
Start-up Cost: $554.73K - 821.38K
The first Pizza Ranch opened in 1981 in Hull, Iowa by Adrie Groeneweg when he was 19 years old. Using fresh ingredients and made-from-scratch recipes from his own mother, Groeneweg grew his business quickly. Through the years, Pizza Ranch has added more and more new locations. More than 160 Pizza Ranch franchises now serve customers in the United States.
Start-up Cost: $808.6K - 2.3M
Planet Fitness was created to be a workout facility where everyone would feel comfortable, no matter what their fitness level. In 1992, Michael Grondahl bought a gym which he renamed Planet Fitness. Grondahl significantly reduced membership fees and created an atmosphere that was more laid back than larger fitness chains. These moves were in an effort to attract customers who were interested in working out, but felt intimidated in many gyms that seemed to be dominated by serious bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. Branching out into franchising in 2003, the Planet Fitness name has grown to include more than 400 locations.
Start-up Cost: $673.1K - 1.66M
Since opening the doors of its first learning center 30 years ago, Primrose has operated on a model of balance and creating curriculum that is fun and engaging for children. Primrose seeks to go beyond simply providing child care, offering pre-school programs as well as after-school activities for older kids.
Start-up Cost: $576.58K - 3.94M
Retro Fitness was opened in 2002 and franchised in 2006 by founder Eric Casaburi. He wanted to provide all the accoutrements of a modern gym at old-fashioned prices. Headquartered in Colts Neck, New Jersey, the franchise has expanded quickly and now there are over 75 of the distinctively decorated fitness centers in the United States.
Start-up Cost: $661.75K - 1.52M
RimTyme offers unique financing programs to customers seeking custom tires and wheels for their vehicle. Buyers can lease-to-own their tires and rims through the 21 franchised shops now in operation. In keeping with the RimTyme concept, proprietors take steps to create a hip, laid-back atmosphere - like installing flat screen TVs in their waiting rooms.
Start-up Cost: $503K - 870.83K
The Melting Pot serves up lunch and dinner to customers, fondue style. The first Melting Pot opened in 1975 in Maitland, Florida. The fondue dining experience was immediately popular, and more locations began cropping up in the area. Since becoming a franchised operation in 1984, more than 140 Melting Pot restaurants have been opened in North America.
Start-up Cost: $886.7K - 1.55M
Trammell Crow founded Wyndham Hotel Corporation in 1981 in Dallas, Texas. Since then, the company has acquired several hotel chains and rebranded them under the Wyndham name. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts now operate under the Wyndham Group (formerly Cendant) which includes many major hotel franchise brands including Travelodge, Super 8, and Ramada.
Start-up Cost: $602.5K - 58.78M
Zips is a franchised group of dry cleaning stores in the United States. The company got its start in 1996 as a collection of small dry cleaning businesses in the Baltimore-Washington area. The idea was to provide quick dry cleaning while keeping prices low. Since then, Zips has grown into 30 locations operating on the same principles as the early cooperative.
Start-up Cost: $616.15K - 778.5K