5 Brand-New Food Franchises That Started Franchising in 2020

Interested in starting a franchise but unwilling to drop seven figures on a McDonald's? Consider these lesser-known franchises.


Entrepreneur has been ranking the top 500 franchises in America through six different decades now, and typically, our top-ranked franchises are household names like Taco Bell, Dunkin’ or McDonald’s. But there are drawbacks with investing in the most popular franchises in the U.S., which is that you’re going to have plenty of competition. The northeast seems to boast a Dunkin’ on every street corner, and nearly every city in America already has a McDonald’s.

If you invest in one of the franchises on this list, you might be the only one with your specific offerings for several states around. So, if you’re looking for a new venture, these five brand-new franchises might just provide you a perfect opportunity.

Just Poké

Total units as of 2020: 13

Initial franchise fee: $25,000

Just Poké was founded by Danny Brawer and Norman Wu in 2016, and the franchise describes itself as “a healthy local poké chain in the Pacific Northwest, with restaurants currently located throughout the Seattle area and greater Western Washington.” 

As with most food franchises, it’s not cheap to start your own Just Poké: Although the franchise fee is just $25,000, the total cost of opening can run anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000. However, there are discounts for veterans, and Just Poké offers in-house financing to help with startup costs, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable and payroll.

Sam’s Southern Eatery

Total units as of 2020: 12

Initial franchise fee: $25,000

Sam’s Southern Eatery was started in 2008 in Shreveport, La., by Sam Gazawaneh. Since then, the franchise has opened several more locations, which serve Southern treats like cheddar poppers, fried green tomatoes and shrimp po’boys. 

A Sam’s Southern franchise is less expensive than a Just Poké franchise but still represents a big financial investment. Startup costs can run between $106,000 and $220,000 in addition to a royalty fee of 4 percent and an ad royalty fee of 1 percent.

Related: 24 Top-Ranked, Affordable Franchises You Can Buy for $25,000 or Less

Wafflez N’ Creamz

Total units as of 2020: 1

Initial franchise fee: $29,900

Wafflez N’ Creamz is a Houston-based franchise founded in 2013 by Gennifer Davis and run by CEO James Davis. The restaurant’s primary focus revolves around a combination of freshly seasoned, fried chicken wings and flavored waffles. 

A Wafflez N’ Creamz franchise costs about $209,400 to $376,900 to open, in addition to a time commitment of 31.5 hours of on-the-job training and 8.5 hours in the classroom. The royalty fee and ad royalty fee are 4.5 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Halal Shop

Total units as of 2020: 2

Initial franchise fee: $29,900

Halal Shop is based in California and was founded in 2018 by Bilal Khan. It primarily serves gyro sandwiches and rice platters with grilled lamb or chicken. One difference between Halal Shop and some of its competitors is that, due to the relatively small space requirements for halal, franchisees can choose whether to sell through a storefront or a food truck.

Starting up a new franchise can run you somewhere between $161,750 and $266,900, with a royalty fee of 5 percent and an ad royalty fee of 1 percent. 

Related: The Top 5 Franchises of 2021 From the Entrepreneur Franchise 500

Combo Kitchen

Total units as of 2021: 19

Initial franchise fee: $35,000 to $45,000

Combo Kitchen is a Miami-based company founded by Hossein Kasmai that calls itself “the world’s first ghost kitchen franchise.” A ghost kitchen is a professional food preparation service that skips the dining areas to facilitate to-go orders and deliveries, and it’s a perfect business model for the pandemic. It makes sense, then, that the business started just last year and already has 19 units.

Although a Combo Kitchen franchise fee is more expensive than the other entries on this list, its total cost can be lower: An initial investment might run from $68,000 to $274,000, with a royalty fee of 7 percent and an ad royalty fee of 1 percent.

Take our franchise quiz to find the perfect match for you.