The Best Sandwich Franchises to Buy in 2021

Franchise Opportunities
Is Buying a Food Franchise a Good Idea in 2020?

Last time we looked at the best food franchises to buy in 2021, we had to start by considering whether buying a food franchise was even a good idea in the current economic environment. With certain delivery and take-out concepts booming, we started by looking at pizza franchises for sale.

In this post, we'll look at some of the best fast food franchises for sale, focusing on sandwich-based formats. 

Sandwich franchises have seen mixed performance in 2020, with some like Capriotti's reporting strong Q2 sales while others have been forced to change concepts or search for more drive-through/take-out friendly locations. Below, we highlight the sandwich franchises that we believe are best poised for steady performance in the new normal era:


Arby's has been franchising since 1965, and the company has seen more than its share of economic ups and downs. You might be surprised to learn that it's the second-largest sandwich franchise in the world, operating 3,400 restaurants in eight countries. With such a strong foundation, Arby's franchisees will benefit from continued support from a well-established operating model and known brand. Initial investment begins at $321,000, and if you're interested in purchasing a franchise with Arby's, you can learn more here


Burger 21

Tampa-headquartered Burger 21 takes its name from the 21 varieties of burgers on its menu, with half being non-beef options. As such, the franchise is well-positioned to capitalize on consumers' diversifying palates and the desire for increased vegetarian-friendly options. Burger 21 is actively seeking a number of franchisees in the mid-west and west coast who are able to provide a $250,000 start-up investment. To request more information about Burger 21 franchises for sale, click here


Burger King

Burger King has been franchising since 1961, but has been able to adapt quite well to the pandemic due to its parent company Restaurant Brands International's investments in mobile order and curbside pickup technology. These investments supplemented a traditional drive-through business that saw double-digit growth in the past few months and propelled Burger King to fifth on QSR Magazine's listing of 2002 franchises positioned for growth. The franchise fee is $50,000 (RBI), and more information on franchise opportunities with Burger King can be found at this link



Capriotti's has made the news recently for its strong performance in the face of the pandemic, and forecasts to expand to more than 500 locations in the next five years. One of the most compelling aspects of owning a franchise with Capriotti's is their "ghost kitchen" concept, which eschews the traditional store front for a delivery and catering-only kitchen ideally suited for providing food at a distance. Capriotti's franchise start-up costs begin at $197,000, and you can learn more about franchises for sale with Capriotti's at this link.



Focusing heavily on its drive-through business throughout the pandemic, midwestern favorite Culver's has differentiated itself with a broader fast-food menu that includes a number of daily ice cream flavors. The franchise is looking for franchisees in the states bordering Wisconsin and Illinois, with start-up costs beginning at $350,000. For more information on starting a franchise with Culver's, click here


Firehouse Subs

Founded 26 years ago in Jacksonville, FL by two former firefighters, Firehouse Subs has grown to nearly 1,200 locations. When the pandemic hit, the franchise was in the midst of rolling out a brand new POS system and quickly pivoted to include the curbside delivery and third-party order options that have helped its franchisees continue to perform during COVID-19. Franchisor support like this has led to Firehouse Subs being listed on numerous best franchises to buy lists in publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur, and startup costs begin at $80,000. To see a list of franchises for sale with Firehouse Subs and request more information, click here


Five Guys

Five Guys seems to have a knack for performing during tough economic times: the franchise was founded in 1986, began franchising in 2003, and currently continues to expand its 1,500 restaurants in 16 countries. The franchise currently holds a middle spot in QSR magazine's ranking of the top 50 food franchises in 2020, and requires a minimum investment of $150,000. To learn more about available franchises with Five Guys, click here.



Hardee's operates 1,772 franchise locations in the Eastern US, with significant opportunity to expand. The franchise was founded in 1961, and has since spread to more than 43 countries. Parent company CKE Restaurant Holdings also owns the popular Carl's Jr. brand, ensuring a strong foundation for new franchisees. Hardee's startup costs are $300,000, and you can request franchise listings from Hardees at this link.


John Smith Subs

John Smith Subs was founded in 1988 but only began franchising in 2016. The brand is backed by the United Franchise Group, which has gotten a number of franchises off to a very strong start and been recognized in numerous franchise award categories. The chain has adapted well to the curbside pickup model, and offers a $150,000 start-up cost. To purchase a franchise with Jon Smith Subs, click here.


McAlister's Deli

The McAlister's Deli concept of heavy takeout focus of menu items like box lunches and sandwich trays has allowed it to transition well to the pandemic. McAlister's currently operates more than 450 restaurants, and is actively looking for franchisees to help them enter the northeast and west coast regions. Startup costs are $500,000, and you can learn more about franchises for sale with McAlister's Deli at this link.



Plano, Texas-based Mooyah is seeing positive growth during the pandemic, planning to double its locations in its home state thanks to strong takeout demand for its burgers, fries and shakes. The franchise's average unit volume is more than $800,000 with a $250,000 startup cost. To review franchise listings for Mooyah and request more information, click here.


Original Hot Dog Factory

If you're a fan of reality television, you may remember the Original Hot Dog Factory being featured on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. The concept is flexible (and even portable with food trucks), offering a number of delivery and takeout friendly options like wings in addition to its globally inspired 20 styles of hot dogs and toppings. The Original Hot Dog Factory began franchising two years ago, and has a low initial startup cost of $98,000. To learn more about available franchises with The Original Hot Dog Factory, click here


Port of Subs, Inc.

Reno, Nevada-headquartered Port of Subs has been franchising since 1984, and has built a strong foundation to help it weather the pandemic and has continued to open new locations in the summer. The franchise has focused on pickup and delivery options, and is currently building its footprint throughout the West Coast with startup costs beginning at $80,000. To learn more about franchise listings with Port of Subs, click here.



Quirky sandwich franchise Potbelly has been franchising for ten years, and has adapted to the current difficult circumstances with a novel concept: selling groceries. Franchisees at Potbelly's 440 locations are offering bulk ingredients to customers for take-out in addition to standard delivery options in order to keep revenues flowing. Startup franchise costs begin at $250,000, and a listing of available franchises and more information can be found at this link


Quaker Steak & Lube

Originally founded in a renovated gas station, Quaker Steak & Lube has been expanding west from its Pennsylvania home for 40 years and its drive-up/drive through format fits well with socially distanced eating. Start-up costs total approximately $500,000. For more information on franchise opportunities with Quaker Steak & Lube, click here



Sonic's retro drive-through/car-side service has been the perfect concept for diners concerned about social distancing during the pandemic, with a recent study from TOPdata showing that this franchise has been the most popular dining choice in 14 states. The brand was founded in 1953 and has been franchising since 1986, growing to 3,600 locations today. Sonic franchise startup costs begin at $434,000, and you can inquire about Sonic franchises for sale at this link.



Up-and-coming franchise Steak-Out is ideally positioned to keep growing during the pandemic, with its concept focused on delivery, carry-out and catering of southern-style char-broil. The nine-unit franchise is actively looking to expand in the southeastern US, and requires a start-up investment of $75,000. To learn more about franchises for sale with Steak-Out, click here.

The Gyro Shack

The Gryo Shack began 10 years ago as a food truck, not a shack, and has grown to 9 locations in the greater Boise, Idaho area. The Gryo Shack's concept is heavily based on a drive-through and delivery format, which has helped it weather the pandemic well (approximately 80 to 85 percent of orders are now delivery or drive-thru), and same store sales have surpassed 2019 already in 2020. Franchise fees run between $10-$25,000, and you can request more information about franchise listings with The Gyro Shack at this link


Wayback Burgers

Wayback Burgers began in Delaware in 1991, opened its first franchises eight years later and today operates more than 160 locations in 30 states and a number of countries worldwide. The company has been able to continue opening franchises in a number of locations during the pandemic, with online orders for pickup and third-party delivery as strong options. Startup costs being at $100,000, and you can request more information about Wayback Burgers franchises for sale at this link.



Venerable hamburger franchise Wendy's was founded by Dave Thomas in 1969, and has been serving Frostees ever since. The franchise has always operated a strong drive-though business, which along with its introduction of breakfast options at the beginning of the pandemic helped keep same-store sales declines to the single digits. Startup costs for a Wendy's location begin at $13,000, and you can review available franchise locations and concepts with Wendy's by clicking here