The Best Chicken and Wings Franchises to Buy in 2021
Our series on the the best food franchises to buy in 2021 continues, this time with an eye toward a comfort-food staple format: chicken and wings. In case you missed our previous entries, you can review pizza franchises for sale or the best sandwich franchises in 2021.
While food franchises of all formats have encountered a difficult economic environment, business appears to be improving for many franchises, with chicken and wings chains showing improving year-over-year store visit numbers this summer. And for chicken franchises in particular, DoorDash provided some good news when its recent order trend analysis revealed that fried chicken sandwiches have been its most-ordered item in the pandemic.
Building on these positive signs, let's count our chickens and see which fried chicken and wings franchises are the best bets for 2021 (and beyond).
Buffalo Wild Wings
Originally founded in 1982, Buffalo Wild Wings started franchising in 1992 and has never looked back. Although its dine-in bar service took a hit in the early part of the pandemic exacerbated by the cancellation of live sports, the chain has invested in marketing during e-sports competitions to keep its robust delivery business fueled while live sports return. Buffalo Wild Wings is also part of the $18-billion Inspire Restaurant Group, and will have capital available to ride out the pandemic (Inspire is buying more locations as we speak). Startup costs for a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise begin at $750,000, and you can learn more about franchises for sale at this link.
Quietly one of the world's largest chicken franchises with 1,588 locations worldwide, Atlanta-headquartered Church's Chicken has been franchising for more than fifty years and is able to operate from a strong foundation while weathering the pandemic. The franchise quickly adapted with large "Go-Box" meals, part of a relentless innovation focus that has seen Church's U.S. sales return to pre-pandemic growth levels. Church's Chicken is looking for franchisees in most U.S. states, and you can view franchise listings by requesting information at this link.
East Coast Wings + Grill
Wing-centric franchise East Coast Wings + Grill has weathered the pandemic exceptionally well, recently reporting that summer 2020 sales had risen compared to 2019 on the strength of its strong pivot to delivery, carry-out and curbside dining. The franchisor notes that part of the reason for its strong performance is the priority it places on working with its franchisees, and is actively looking for franchisees in the Southeastern U.S. comfortable with its $435,000 startup cost. To review a franchise listing for East Coast Wings + Grill or request more information, click here.
El Pollo Loco
This crazy chicken has been franchising for 40 years and is still going strong. El Pollo Loco beat Q2 earning estimates in spite of the pandemic downturn, and is starting to return to growth with reported Q3 same-store sales improvement of just under 3%. The franchise credits its heavy investment in digital marketing and its popular loyalty program for driving business, which provides a strong umbrella for its nearly 300 franchisees. El Pollo Loco is currently seeking franchisees in and around Texas, and requires a $770,000 start-up cost. To learn more about franchises for sale at El Pollo Loco, click here.
While the pandemic forced KFC to suspend its famous slogan, its overall business is showing signs of increased store visits and franchisees benefit from parent company Yum! brands' solid international footing and cash reserves. KFC franchisees have continued to hire throughout the summer, and are seeing benefits from the company's contactless ordering system. To learn more about available franchises with KFC, click here.
Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken
Colonel Sanders' nephew Lee started his own friend chicken franchise in 1966. Quickly expanding out of Ohio, the company now franchises 189 locations primarily in and around the midwest. Lee's charges an initial franchise fee of $35,000 and you can request more information about franchising opportunities at this link.
Native Grill & Wings
Award-winning franchise Native Grill & Wings has been recognized time and again for its twist on Buffalo Wings, and has received recognition as a top franchise from Entrepreneur and Restaurant Business magazines. Initial investment begins at $650,000, and the franchise is looking for franchisees throughout the U.S. To learn more about available franchise listings with Native Grill & Wings, click here.
Originally founded in 1971 in Guatemala, Pollo Campero has come a long way and now boasts 350 locations in 10 countries. The pandemic didn't put a dent in the company's record 31-consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth, and in August 2020 Pollo Campero announced that it was seeking to kick its franchise expansion into high gear thanks to the opportunities its executives see in the market. Pollo Campero's initial franchise fee is $40,000, and you can request more information about their franchises for sale at this link.
Pudgie's Naked Chicken
New York-centric fried chicken favorite Pudgie's Naked Chicken was founded on a proprietary skinning and breading process along with a secret recipe that provides a healthier meal option without trans fats. The franchise is owned by regional holding company TruFoods, which gives franchisees the option of co-locating with other formats such as Nathan's Famous. With start-up costs at a low $75,000, Pudgie's makes an affordable chicken franchise investment. For more information on franchise opportunities, click here.
Williams Fried Chicken
Dallas-based regional franchise Williams Fried Chicken offers a low $75,000 start-up cost and the opportunity for expansion into many markets. Williams' drive-through-focused format is ideal for socially distant dining, and the company also delivers through third parties such as GrubHub and DoorDash. Williams has been franchising since 1987, and is currently looking for other franchisees in the Texas region. To learn more about available franchises with Williams Fried Chicken, click here.
From it's founding in Athens, Georgia in the 1990s, Zaxby's has grown its chicken-finger focused menu to 900 restaurants throughout the southeastern U.S. Franchisee sales have been steady through the pandemic, and the company is looking to expand west of the Mississippi based on that strenght. Zaxby's franchise startup cost is $500,000, and you can view available franchise opportunities at this link.
Interested in learning more about available franchises? Search our directory of franchise opportunities to find the best business for you.