15 Franchises You Can Start for Less Than $200k

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The beauty of owning a franchise is that it lets you open a business without doing the hard work of building a brand — but in most cases, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege of repping someone else’s name and logo. If you want to jump on the brand McDonald’s built, for example, you’ll need at least “$500,000 of unencumbered liquid assets,” but total startup costs range from $1,008,000 to $2,214,080. Piece of cake, right?

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McDonald’s is a giant with giant franchise price tags, but you can start your own business with one of these low-cost franchises instead — and many of them are household names. GOBankingRates rounded up franchises that require $200,000 or less in liquid assets, according to Franchise Direct, a company that helps potential franchisees find business opportunities.

Click through to see the franchise openings, and get ideas for starting your own business.

Last updated: July 7, 2021

Lennys Subs / Yelper

Lennys Grill & Subs

Liquid assets required: $75,000

Lennys Grill & Subs offers authentic Philly Cheesesteaks made with fresh ingredients — even though the restaurant originated in Memphis, Tenn. The sub shop began to franchise in 2001 and is still open to franchise opportunities across the country.

In addition to the liquid cash of $75,000 and a franchise fee of $25,000, your net worth has to be at least $400,000. The total investment is $332,030 – $455,594.

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Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Liquid assets required: $100,00

Dickey’s has been around since 1941, slow-smoking its meats in hickory wood smokers much to the delight of Texas-style barbecue lovers everywhere. The restaurant is all about an inviting, family-style experience, with an open concept kitchen that allows guests to see their food being prepared and the opportunity to converse with the Pit Boss in charge of the barbecue.

Dickey’s has grown to become the largest barbecue chain in the world, and it’s not just because of the delicious food — the company has franchising down to a simple, cost-effective science. Franchise fees are relatively low at $20,000 plus a 5% royalty fee and a 4% marketing fee.

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©Bruster's Ice Cream

Bruster’s Real Ice Cream

Liquid assets required: $125,000

Ever heard of Bruster’s? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. The ice cream chain has been around for nearly 30 years and has over 200 locations in 20 states. The company has even expanded overseas, with locations in Guyana and South Korea. Entrepreneur magazine has continually identified the ice cream, froyo and sorbet chain as a top franchise opportunity. And Bruster’s describes its fresh, homemade frozen treats as “A Scoop Above the Rest.”

Total expenses, including advertising, franchising and royalty fees, range between $264,500 and $643,000, but it’s important to note that these numbers are for smaller and less lucrative “end-cap” stores, not free-standing locations, which are much more expensive.

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Le Macaron French Pastries / Yelper

Le Macaron French Pastries

Liquid assets required: $75,000

They’re sweet, light and eye-catching. Join the trend that’s spreading across the U.S. and open up your own macaron shop. In addition to the low startup costs, you won’t have to sweat the baking details, either. All baking is done by French chefs at the company’s central pastries commissary.

A total net worth of $250,000 is required to be considered for a Le Macaron franchise. The franchise fee is $45,000, and the total investment range for a traditional cafe is $149,240 – $349,500. There are also the options of franchising a food truck or a mobile kiosk.

There are nearly 50 Le Macaron shops open across the country, and the company is actively looking to expand nationwide. This might be a great fit if you’re looking to make more money without a traditional office job.

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Imran M. / Yelper

Vocelli Pizza

Liquid assets required: $100,000

Vocelli Pizza has been serving quality pizza and other classic Italian dishes for over 30 years. Now you can get a slice of the pie if you have the minimum cash requirement of $100,000.

The pizza shop has been in business for 30 years and consistently ranks among the top 30, 40, or 50 pizza chains in America. You can expect a total investment $156,000 to $330,900, which includes a $30,000.

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Troy D. / Yelper

The Simple Greek

Liquid assets required: $100,000

The Simple Greek has a number of franchise locations opening up and is still looking to expand its reach across the country. The food chain offers authentic Greek food in a casual yet fast dining experience and only requires $100,000 cash on hand, but you must have a net worth of $300,000.

The total investment range is $316,000 to $586,000. There is also an initial franchise fee of $30,000, but if you’re a veteran, you’ll receive a 50 percent discount.



Liquid assets required: $150,000

If you’re already familiar with Asian-fusion food chain Hiccups, it’s time to meet its other venture: Churroholic. It’s perhaps of no surprise that this dessert chain was founded in Anaheim, Calif., home of Disneyland, where the delicious Spanish treat is a best-seller. The love of churros expands beyond the walls of the Happiest Place on Earth, however. Churroholic has only been open since 2017, and has already expanded to 15 locations. with more on the way — and it’s looking for franchisees to take its sugar-coated dream across the country.

The total investment for a Churroholic franchise is $477,500.

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Liquid assets required: $200,000

Not a churroholic? How about cinnamon rolls instead? With $200,000 liquid capital, you can open the next Cinnaholic location. Featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2014, this bakery chain specializes in socially conscious, vegan-friendly treats everyone can enjoy.

After after buildout costs of $187,000 – $368,500 and a $39,000 franchising fee, you’ll be serving up mouth-watering baked goods with 50 flavorful frostings and toppings for your guests to choose from — as long as you have a net worth of at least $500,000.

©Boomarang Diner

Boomarang Diner

Liquid assets required: $75,000

Boomarang Diner originated in Muskogee, Okla., as a single storefront, but over the last 20 years, the diner has blossomed into roughly 50 franchise locations. The restaurants are ’50s- and ’60s-themed and offer burgers, sandwiches and other diner staples, both dine-in and carry-out. The chain prides itself not only on good food served quickly but on treating the customer well, for a truly memorable experience.

Your net worth only has to be $25,000 to own the next Boomarang Diner, but the total investment will set you back $109,800 to $508,050.

Minnaert / Wikimedia Commons

Robeks Fresh Juices & Smoothies

Liquid assets required: $100,000

Robeks has expanded to more than 90 locations across the country since it was founded in 1996. The on-the-go fresh smoothie and juice franchise appeals to those who want a nutritious food choice — and currently, the business is looking to expand its reach. Markets include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The required net worth is $300,000.

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Wayback Burgers

Liquid assets required: $125,000

Wayback Burgers operates in 30 states and has over 160 franchises currently operating worldwide with more than 500 others contracted out.

You too can be part of the success of Wayback Burgers — a burger joint that’s been in operation since 1991. Generally, the operating costs to start a franchise are between $350,000 and $450,000.

Rush Bowls / Yelper

Rush Bowls

Liquid assets required: $150,000

In 2004, company founder and president Andrew Pudalov quit his finance job in New York City to chase his healthy-living dreams, and thus, Rush Bowls was born. It’s a business centered on açaí (and other) healthy bowls that incorporate fresh fruit, granola and honey.

Rush Bowls is currently offering single unit, multi-unit and area developer opportunities throughout the country. The franchise fees are $45,000 for single units, $25,000 for a second store, and $10,000 for the third and any additional units.

Mark Turnauckas / Flickr.com

Teriyaki Madness

Liquid assets required: $200,000

Another Asian food franchise opportunity worth considering is Teriyaki Madness. The business has had exceptional growth in recent years — including in new markets. Franchise opportunities currently exist throughout the U.S.

The good news is that the $200,000 of liquid capital needed includes the franchise fee of $45,000. However, the initial investment alone for a Teriyaki Madness franchise will cost you somewhere between $327,000 and $678,000.

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r l. / Yelper

Lumberjacks Restaurant

Liquid assets required: $100,000

There’s no confusing this restaurant chain with another run-of-the-mill food joint. You’re sure to notice the difference when you’re greeted by the 12-foot lumberjack standing outside. And the interior of Lumberjacks Restaurant keeps the log cabin theme going, with old saws and faux trees lining the walls. Guests enjoy old-fashioned, family-style food big enough to satiate even the largest appetites.

Lumberjacks Restaurant requires a reasonable $40,000 franchising fee. But, all told, your investment could get pricey — anywhere from $432,300-$1,320,700.

Craving the Curls Rolled Ice Cre / Yelper

Craving the Curls Rolled Ice Cream

Liquid assets required: $50,000

Husband and wife team Renee and Randy Hayden started this family business in Paducah, Kentucky with the help of their daughters. It’s based on a crazy concept taking the culinary world by storm: Ice cream doesn’t have to be scooped — it can be rolled. Everything is made fresh and delicious at Craving the Curls, from its Peachy Keen to its O Oreo flavors.

Craving the Curls will consider single-unit franchises, but its ideal franchisee is someone who is looking to open three to five locations. The total investment for a franchise is between $112,000 and $228,000 depending on the size of the location — units are 1,000 to 1,800 square feet.

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Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.