6 Trending Restaurant Franchise Opportunities You Don't Want to Miss

Franchising is more than just fast food.

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Two years ago, the restaurant industry faced an unprecedented challenge with the pandemic. The need to protect public health caused radical and immediate changes to the business model. It was only through the industry's immediate adaptation to a new landscape that kept the stoves burning and the kitchens running. Through it all, American's affinity for eating out never waned. We now have many more options for outdoor dining and patio seating. Almost all restaurants feature curbside pickup and we've seen an intensified marketplace for delivery-based concepts designed to bring your favorite restaurant orders right to your doorstep. The restaurant industry itself has broadened, reintroducing all kinds of variety into the business model. And nowhere is this more evident than in the franchising industry.

Entrepreneur recently released their 2022 Top Food Franchises Ranking. On this list, you'll find retail concepts that feature consumer favorites like smoothies, specialty coffees, legendary sandwich and sub shops, and fast-casual eateries. Below are six prime examples of trending franchise concepts that you simply don't want to miss.

Related: These 3 Restaurant Franchises Thrived During the Pandemic. Here's What to Learn From Their Successes.

Meet a franchisor with a smooth reputation

Consumers have spoken and their word has made Jamba a brand that's synonymous for on-the-go smoothies and juices. Their track record as a popular franchise concept speaks for itself — the brand boasts more than 800 locations in 35 states and six countries. Jamba has earned three consecutive appearances on Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 list, coming in at No. 189 in 2022 — their highest rank so far. Secret to Jamba's success? Small store footprints and a crack corporate marketing team that's focused on consumer sentiment that it makes brand loyalty look easy.

A blazing hot opportunity

It's common knowledge that coffee is best served piping hot, but this term also applies to the expansion efforts of Scooter's Coffee — a franchise brand that's seen an 82.4% increase in units in just the past three years. This remarkable run earned them a No. 66 ranking on this year's Franchise 500 list. Scooter's relies on speedy fast drive-thru service and a proprietary blueprint for success that's helped this brand "scoot in" to more than 300 U.S. locations.

Related: The Time Is Now to Become A Franchisee Under Historically Good Terms

Nothing beats an original

In the early 70s, before Nixon resigned and the OPEC oil crisis hit, a small sandwich shop with only one menu item debuted in Austin, Texas. The sole offering was branded, "THE ORIGINAL," and has helped Schlotzsky's become a household name. The brand has grown to more than 320 locations, landing them a spot at No. 301 on this year's Franchise 500 list. Though Schlotzsky's has turned their focus to developing digital platforms to better connect with their customer base, their sandwich line has maintained its savory, original taste.

Fiesta time for foodies everywhere

Moe's Southwest Grill utilizes a simple, customizable menu selection that's made this brand an authority for Southwestern fare. Fun fact? The menu is made up of only 20 ingredients. But this fast-casual heavyweight, now up to more than 600 locations, isn't exactly resting on their laurels. The brand has kept their grills going full blast, having recently modernized and refreshed all attributes of their iconic brand. This effort hasn't gone unnoticed, as Moe's earned the 268th spot on this year's Franchise 500 list.

Related: Can Jon Taffer Fix Franchise Restaurants?

A brand squarely focused on dollars and sense

For a majority of consumers craving a good meal at a reasonable price, almost nothing beats a good sandwich. It's a simple proposition that Goodcents has capitalized on for more than three decades. Whether it's dine-in, carryout, or delivery, this brand's subs, salads, soups, and pastas have satisfied the appetites of the American public. Built on flavor, freshness and a strong connection to the local communities they serve, Goodcents is a brand that never stops innovating. After spotting an opportunity to add convenience to their menus, the brand has successfully rolled out their innovative "Goodcents-to-Go" line of ready-made meals.

Vive la France!

Not all fast-casual haunts are created equal. Some aren't even traditional restaurants but have found the perfect niche in the marketplace. That's right, with Paris Baguette, you can own and operate your own bakery café. This is a brand that's experienced phenomenal growth in the past three decades, now topping more than 3,700 locations nationwide – up 10.6% in just the past three years alone. Stats like these helped Paris Baguette earn a prestigious ranking on this year's Franchise 500 list, coming in at No. 129.

When it comes to the best franchise concepts by category, Entrepreneur has you covered. We have business opportunities to share from over a dozen industries. Everything from automotive, home services, and childcare to food, health and beauty, and everything in between. To see what's in our franchisor database, be sure to check out Entrepreneur's Best of the Best Rankings.

Related: Entrepreneur's 2022 Top Food Franchises Ranking

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