Top 11 American Restaurant Franchises in the UK

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American restaurant franchise UK

American food brands are big business in the UK, whether its American sweets, chocolate or fizzy drinks, we can’t get enough. One industry that really is dominated by the US is fast food. In this article, we will explore the popularity of American restaurant franchises and the top franchising opportunities you can get involved with in the UK.

Research suggests that the top five burger chains in the UK are Five Guys, Nando’s, McDonald’s, KFC and then Burger King. With four of these being American brands, the US’s influence on our food outlet preferences is clear to see. According to more research, McDonald’s is also the third most popular dining brand after Greggs and J D Wetherspoon, and American is the fifth most popular cuisine British people choose when dining out. These statistics demonstrate the extent of our adoration for American fast food brands and how starting your own American restaurant franchise has scope to become incredibly lucrative.

Reasons why starting an American restaurant franchise is a good idea

1. In demand

In the UK, we eat out twice a week on average. The younger generation (18-29-year-olds) are happy to part with a hefty £88 a week, which is double that of the national average spend. Those surveyed suggested that this was because of a lack of food in cupboards, not wanting to wash up and not being able to cook very well.

2. No two days are the same

Each day brings new experiences and challenges. Unlike a 9-5 office job, you never really know who’s going to walk through the door and what encounters you’re going to have. This helps keep the role exciting and stops it from getting boring.

3. You can give back to the community

Your restaurant can become the social hub of the community. When you own a restaurant, there is scope to donate food to a local shelter, sponsor a league team and host fundraisers. Charitable behaviour is looked on fondly by consumers too, with 87 percent saying that they would buy from businesses that support an issue they care about.

Top 11 American restaurant franchise opportunities

1. Five Guys

Five Guys truly cares about the quality of its food, selling Irish beef in its UK outlets and cooking everything from scratch, without the use of frozen ingredients. What’s more, customers can customise their menu choices to their heart’s content, with over 250,000 burger, hotdog and sandwich topping combinations and 1,000 milkshake flavour combinations.

  • Becoming a Five Guys franchisee: If you’re passionate about the fast food industry and are business minded, you are encouraged to apply. To learn more, visit Five Guys' website. 
  • How much you need to invest: You’ll need to be able to invest between £300,000 and £550,000.
  • What you get for your investment: From the very start, you’ll receive all of the technical support you need. On-site training lasts for two weeks and additional support including everything from the grand opening to security.


Subway is a very well-known brand in the UK, but you might not have realised that there are more than 43,000 stores in over 110 countries! This is a huge global business, and it’s looking to expand even more with the help of franchise partners.

  • Becoming a Subway franchisee: Subway is looking for savvy entrepreneurs with a passion for the brand. You should have expertise in the market and display good time management and communication skills. You also need to abide by its procedures and follow the training and site selection processes. Visit its profile page to find out more.
  • How much you need to invest: In order to be accepted as a franchisee, interested entrepreneurs will need to make a minimum investment of £85,570. However, you can get help with funding from one of Subway’s financial partners, so if you have good credit standing you could get bank loans that cover up to 70 percent of the cost.
  • What you get for your investment: In order for you to be able to run your own Subway franchise confidently, the brand provides a two-week training course that is carried out in one of its many training centres across the globe.

3. Baskin Robbins

Founded in 1945 by Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins, this business has over 7,300 stores across almost 50 countries. Baskin Robbins serves milkshakes, smoothies and fruit creams alongside a huge selection of ice creams.

  • Becoming a Baskin Robbins franchisee: When you join this franchise, you’ll be able to tempt customers with Baskin Robbins’ sundaes. Those with a sweet tooth are often excited to choose their own ice cream and add toppings such as hot fudge, marshmallows, roasted almonds, chocolate truffles or fruit. To learn more and sign up, visit its profile page. 
  • How much you need to invest: Franchisees looking for a piece of the action should be willing to make a total investment of £500,000.
  • What you get for your investment: Investors will get help finding suitable site locations, as well as guidance in operational support, management systems, food safety and health and safety. What’s more, quarterly franchisee meetings provide an opportunity to network with and learn from other franchisees on a regular basis.

4. Dunkin’ Donuts

There are over 11,000 Dunkin’ Donuts locations spread across 31 countries, serving more than five million customers every single day. In fact, the franchise sells an average of over 30 cups of coffee every second. It’s also accumulated almost 70 years of experience in the food and drink industry, and is famous among coffee – and doughnut – lovers worldwide.

  • Becoming a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee: This doughnut franchise is looking for entrepreneurs who are prepared to open at least 20 outlets within a given period. If you think you’re the person for the job, why not get in touch? To learn more and sign up, visit its profile page. 
  • How much you need to invest: This is a big brand, so you’ll need to have at least £3 million to invest.
  • What you get for your investment: It goes without saying that you’ll benefit from high brand recognition and a ready-made customer base. It’s likely that, wherever you set up shop, you’ll find plenty of hungry customers eager to dunk their doughnuts.

5. Domino’s

Domino’s is the UK’s leading pizza brand and started with a simple business idea to deliver hot, freshly made pizzas in as short a time as possible. From this humble goal, Domino’s now has over 1,000 stores across the country serving nearly 90 million pizzas every year.

  • Becoming a Domino’s franchisee: The business has been able to grow at an extraordinary speed thanks the franchising model. What’s more, 90 percent of the franchises in the UK are owned by franchisees who were once employed by the business.
  • How much you need to invest: You can find out about the franchise's investment requirements by getting in touch with the brand. 
  • What you get for your investment: You’ll take part in a four-week Franchise Development Programme so you know how to run your business confidently.

6. Papa Johns

As a leading pizza delivery chain, Papa John’s offers thick crust pizza, dough-based snacks, drinks and desserts. Founded in the US in the 1980s, Papa John’s expanded into the UK in 2000 and now has more than 5,000 branches across 45 countries worldwide, achieving an annual revenue that exceeds $3 billion.

  • Becoming a Papa John’s franchisee: Investors looking for a slice of the action do not need previous experience with a food franchise as long as they are business-oriented and have good communication skills. 
  • How much you need to invest: A minimum investment of £100,000 and £18,500 in franchise fees will be required to get a Papa John’s store up and running.
  • What you get for your investment: New franchisees will benefit from a six-week training scheme that includes marketing support, as well as a royalty reduction programme and free oven.

7. KFC

The Kentucky Fried Chicken brand is recognised worldwide, with nearly 14,000 restaurants in 112 countries. The first store was opened in the UK in 1965 and now there are 850 locations across the country. Approximately 75 percent of KFC restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees, who sell 690 million pieces of the Colonel’s secret recipe chicken a year.

  • Becoming a KFC franchisee: There are four types of restaurant that you can own as a KFC franchisee. There’s the standard restaurant in city centre locations; the drive-thru for roadsides and retail parks; food courts for busy shopping centres; and express stores for residential areas. The sites have different requirements with varying investment costs.
  • How much you need to invest: You need to have £5 million of assets and £2 million in liquid capital.
  • What you get in return: Proven training systems and support network.

8. Chili’s

Chili’s is an American restaurant chain, founded by Larry Lavine in Texas in 1975 and currently owned by Brinker International, an American multinational hospitality company.

  • Becoming a Chili’s franchisee: In order to be considered as a Chili international franchisee, it is important to have hospitality experience, preferably in the food service industry, and a passion for developing a multiple restaurant development plan of at least five restaurants. 
  • How much you need to invest: You need to demonstrate minimum liquidity of $5 million.
  • What you get for your investment: You’ll receive support with evaluating market potential and key entry points, market mapping and site selection. The brand is keen to train franchisees to be self-sufficient through harnessing tools like new restaurant programmes, compressive training, manager training and people succession planning.

9. Denny’s

Denny’s is one of the United States’ most reputable fast food chains and a popular choice of restaurant amongst those who appreciate good food and the company’s all-night service. Denny’s now operates in all 50 states in the US, as well as at least 11 other countries. Out of a total of around 1,700 restaurants, there are approximately 1,600 in the US.

  • Becoming a Denny’s franchisee: Denny’s is looking to expand into the UK, mainland Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Australia and South America. To find out more and apply, visit its website. 
  • How much you need to invest: You’ll need a liquid capital of around £350,000 and a net worth of £1 million to be accepted as a franchisee.
  • What you get for your investment: When you become a franchisee, you can look forward to industry-leading franchise support systems. Just some of what you can expect includes real estate assistance, advertising support, supply chain support and a Denny’s Project Manager.

10. McDonald’s

If you’re looking to make your fortune with arguably the most recognisable fast food brand in the world, you’ll need to be committed and patient.

  • Becoming a McDonald’s franchisee: The application process alone takes three to six months, with any prospective franchisees needing to attend at least one ‘Insight Day’ before beginning their application. Learn more and sign up on its website. 
  • How much you need to invest: You need to make an upfront investment of £100,000 to become part of the McDonald's brand. 
  • What you get for your investment: As well as being able to operate under one of the world’s most iconic brands, you can make the most of its highly successful training and marketing opportunities.

11. Pizza Hut Delivery

Pizza Hut is, of course, one of the biggest pizza chains out there. Founded in 1958 in Wichita in the US by brothers Dan and Frank Carney, Pizza Hut arrived in the UK 15 years later in 1973. Pizza Hut Delivery offers consumers the chance to purchase and eat the chain’s pizzas from the comfort of their own home.

  • Becoming a Pizza Hut Delivery franchisee: You need to be experienced in retail management to be accepted onto this franchise programme. Pizza Hut has currently stopped taking in applications, but you can keep checking its website and franchise profile for any updates.
  • How much you need to invest: The initial investment is between £130,000 and £150,000.
  • What you get for your investment: In return, you’ll receive day-to-day support from acquisition managers, franchise business managers and business experts. Your royalty fees will contribute to marketing on a national and international scale - so this is one less thing to worry about.

Start an American restaurant – it’s easy with franchising

UK consumers clearly relish American food staples and can’t resist indulging at an American restaurant franchise from time to time. There are even more huge restaurant brands in America, including Jimmy John’s and Jack in the Box, but unfortunately they don’t currently offer franchising opportunities in the UK. Find out if another popular American brand Dairy Queen franchises in the UK in one of our ‘Q&A’ articles.

>> Read more articles on the Restaurant sector

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