Published on 8 Sep 2023 Time 5 min read Last update by 28 May 2024

Cracker Barrel Franchise Cost (2024)

Cracker Barrel Franchise

Cracker Barrel is a popular chain restaurant in the United States. It has gained a loyal following due to its classic American-style food and cozy Southern-country ambiance. The restaurant offers signature dishes like fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, and hot apple cider. Guests can enjoy tabletop peg games or browse through the gift store for vintage candies and other souvenirs. With over 230 million visitors annually, Cracker Barrel Franchise has a warm atmosphere and unique combination of dining and shopping experiences. This sets it apart from other restaurants.


In this article, we will explore the potential cost associated with opening a Cracker Barrel Franchise in 2023. Understanding these costs can provide aspiring entrepreneurs with valuable insights into the investment required to join this successful franchise system.

Cracker Barrel Franchise Cost (2023)

Is Cracker Barrel a Franchise?

No, Cracker Barrel is not a franchise. It is a company-owned and operated chain of restaurants. This means that all Cracker Barrel locations are owned and run by the company itself. This is opposed to being independently owned and operated by individual franchisees.

Why does Cracker Barrel not Franchise?

There are several reasons why Cracker Barrel has chosen not to franchise its restaurants.

Consistency: By keeping all locations company-owned and operated, Cracker Barrel can maintain a high level of consistency in the quality of food, service, and overall guest experience. Franchising can sometimes lead to variations in these areas due to different management styles or operational practices.

Control over brand image: With company-owned locations, Cracker Barrel has complete control over its brand image. This way, it can ensure that it aligns with its desired reputation as a cozy Southern-country restaurant. Franchising may result in variations in decor or menu offerings that could dilute the brand’s identity.

Focus on long-term success: By directly managing all locations, Cracker Barrel can closely monitor performance metrics and make necessary adjustments for continued success. This level of control allows them to respond quickly to market trends and customer preferences without relying on individual franchisees’ decision-making processes.

Investment requirements: Opening a Cracker Barrel Franchise would require significant upfront investment from potential franchisees. This includes real estate costs, construction expenses, equipment purchases, training fees, etc., which may deter some entrepreneurs from pursuing this opportunity.

Overall, while franchising offers certain benefits such as rapid expansion potential and shared financial risk with franchisees. For now at least, Cracker Barrel believes that maintaining direct ownership provides them with greater control over their brand’s consistency and long-term success.

What are some alternatives to a Cracker Barrel Franchise?


Qdoba Mexican Eats

1. Qdoba Mexican Eats is a fast-casual Mexican-themed restaurant. Qdoba offers a wide variety of menu options that range from burritos to Tacos and Quesadillas. All menu items are made to order and are in a tiered pricing structure, giving customers flexibility. Most Qdoba locations also offer catering services, which helps expand revenue streams. Customers can also place online mobile ordering through the corporate-operated App and website.

Qdoba itself charges a 5% royalty fee, 1.25% marketing fee, and 1.75% local marketing fee. This means that Qdoba’s primary fees are on par with industry trends. To open a Qdoba location you must expect to pay between $252,800 to $816,700 for a non-traditional and $476,800 to $1,096,700 for a traditional. Based on our analysis, a Qdoba restaurant will take between 4 and 6 years to recover the initial investment with just the profits.

Rusty Taco

2. Rusty Taco is an American-based chain of fast-food restaurants originating in Atlanta, Georgia in 1962. It was founded by Rusty Fenton and his wife, Denise Fenton. Rusty Taco is a subsidiary of Inspire Brands. The chain serves a variety of Mexican-inspired foods, including tacos, burritos, nachos, and desserts. As of 2022, there are 37 restaurants in nine states.

Prospective franchisees must have a minimum of $500,000 in liquid capital and a net worth of at least $1,000,000. Rusty charges a 6% royalty fee and a 2% marketing fee. This means that Rusty’s primary fees are on par with industry trends. To open a Rusty Tacos location, you must expect to pay between $532,000 and $897,000. Keep in mind that you should also allocate additional funds to live off of while the Rusty Taco business ramps up.  Based on our analysis, it would take around 6 to 8 years to recover the initial investment of Rusty Tacos franchised location if the average revenue of $1,099,722 gives a profit of 15%.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

3. Moe’s Southwest Grill is also a big competitor for Chipotle. Moe’s Southwest Grill, referred to informally as Moe’s, is an American fast-casual restaurant franchise chain founded in Atlanta, GA, in 2000. The name “Moe’s” originates as an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers.” Moe’s is part of Focus Brands – the company that also operates and franchises Schlotzsky’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, McAlister’s Deli, Jamba, and Auntie Anne’s.

The minimum investment amount required to open a Moe’s Southwest Grill franchise is $474,900 and can go all the way up to $1,109,840. Moe’s has seen a decline in locations in both 2020 and 2021. Between 2019 and 2021, Moe’s saw 8% of its outlets close, with 41 and 22 closing in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The total number of Moe’s outlets is now 659, including one company-owned location. The midpoint investment for a Moe’s location is around $792,500. At a 15% profit margin, it will take around 9 years to recover your initial investment. This is longer than other franchise opportunities.


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Cracker Barrel is not a franchise, as all locations are company-owned and operated. The decision to not franchise allows Cracker Barrel to maintain consistency in food quality, service, and guest experience while having full control over its brand image. Opening a Cracker Barrel Franchise would require significant upfront investment. Alternatives to a Cracker Barrel Franchise include Qdoba Mexican Eats, Rusty Taco, and Moe’s Southwest Grill, each with its investment requirements and potential profitability timelines.

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