Steak n Shake Franchise Cost Really $10k?

Steak n Shake Franchise

Written By Brooks Gammill

Last Updated: September 22, 2021

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What is a Steak N Shake franchise?

Steak n Shake franchise is a classic American brand serving premium burgers and milkshakes. The  mission at Steak n Shake is to serve customers the highest quality burgers and shakes along with extending them great service at the lowest possible prices.

In 1939, Steak n Shake began offering a limited number of franchises for Steak n Shake® restaurants, but it did not make a general offering to sell franchises until 1991. As of December 30, 2020 (“FY20”) there were 159 franchise locations and 272 company-operated Steak n Shake® restaurants within the U.S. Steak n Shake offers franchises for restaurants with various operating formats: Freestanding Quick Service Format, In-line Quick Service, Non-traditional, and roadside.

The Steak n Shake Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Biglari Holdings Inc. (“Biglari Holdings”), an Indiana corporation founded by Sardar Biglari. Biglari Holdings’ common stock is quoted under the symbols “BH.A” and “BH” on the New York Stock Exchange. Sardar Biglari is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Biglari Holdings.

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How Much is a Steak n Shake Franchise?

Steak n Shake Franchise Fee


The initial license fee for a Steak n Shake franchise is $25,000. This is the upfront fee that must be paid when opening a Steak n Shake franchise.

New: Steak n Shake Franchising Company-Operated Restaurants

For a total investment of $10,000 selected franchisees (who are called Franchise Partners) are granted the rights necessary to operate a franchised Steak ‘n Shake restaurant.

This  Opportunity as a Franchise Partner:

  • Become a Franchise Partner with a $10,000 investment
  • Earn 50% of restaurant profits
  • Unlimited earning potential
Steak n Shake Franchise

 Steak n Shake Franchise Cost

The estimated total investment necessary to begin operation of a traditional Steak n Shake free-standing Quick Service restaurant ranges from $1,208,000 – $1,687,000.

Steak n Shake also offers various operating formats and their costs are different from the traditional free standing restaurant.

In-Line Quick Service Format: $454,000 – $1,371,000

Non-Traditional: $316,000 – $715,000

Roadside Format: $705,000 – $1,199,497

Additional Cost Breakdown

The following costs are part of the upfront costs included in the initial investment. Many of these are one-time fees that are needed to launch the franchise.

Additional Cost Breakdown

Construction Management / Fee$0 – $35,000
Site Improvements$172,500
Building or Leasehold Improvements$621,000 – $762,860
Furniture & Fixtures, Equipment & Signage$303,500 – $400,640
Pre-Opening Expenses$5,000 – $10,000
Inventory and Supplies for Opening$10,000 – $15,000
Training Expenses$16,000 – $55,000
Architectural, Civil Engineering & Other Professional Fees$35,000 – $78,000
Impact and Tap Fees$5,000 – $78,000
Grand Opening Marketing Expenses$0 – $25,000
Extension Fee$0 – $10,000
Additional Funds for 3 months$15,000 – $20,000
Total$1,208,000 – $1,687,000

Ongoing Costs and Fees

Royalty and System Fee & License Fee: 5.5% of Gross Receipts weekly.

Marketing Fee: 3% of Gross Receipts weekly and can be waived for nontraditional locations.

How Much Do Franchise Owners Make?

Steak n Shake Franchise Sales Figures

The historical financial performance representations in this section include results for: The 12 month period ended December 23, 2020 (“FY20”) for 192 company-operated and 84 traditional franchise Restaurants which had been in continuous operation for at least 18 consecutive months.

FY20 Annual Net Sales

Traditional Franchise Restaurants

Average Net Sales: $1,403,587

Median: $1,346,332

Highest Net Sales: $2,826,778

Lowest Net Sales: $524,382

Company-Operated Restaurants

Average Net Sales:  $1,233,146

Median: $1,235,112

Highest Net Sales: $2,190,628

Lowest Net Sales: $678,503

Based on 192 company-operated and 84 traditional franchise Restaurants used for this data, it shows that Traditional Franchise Restaurants have higher average net sales and median sales than company-operated restaurants.

Steak n Shake Franchisor Income Statement

Steak n Shake Consolidated Statements of Earnings (Dollars in thousands)

Revenues$ 343,699$ 594,446$ 759,918
Cost and Expenses   
Restaurant cost of sales$ 240,253$ 489,058 $ 624,898
Selling, general and administrative$ 59,671$ 80,224$ 121,111
Impaiments$ 23,646$ 8,186$ 5,677
Depreciation and amortization$ 18,675$ 20,379$ 18,045
Interest expense$ 15,711$ 20,999$ 19,551
 $ 357,956$ 618,846$ 789,282
Investment partnership gains (losses)$ (17,202)$ 12,640$ (39,750)
Earnings (loss) before income taxes$ (31,459)$ (11,760)$ (69,114)
Income tax benefit$ (6,860)$ (5,127)$ (22,159)
Net earnings (loss)$ (24,599)$ (6,633)$ (46,955)

Steak n Shake Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (Dollars in thousands)

Net earnings (loss)$ (24,599)$ (6,633)$ (46,955)
Other comprehensive income (loss):   
Foreign currency translation1,263(287)(1,047)
Total comprehensive income (Loss)$ (23,336)$ (6,930) $ (48,002)

Steak n Shake Income Statement Key Insights

Overall, Steak n Shake is notprofitable business, with a net earnings loss of $24.6 million in 2020. This has been a trend in both 2019 and 2018 as in these respective years there were recording losses of $ 6.6 million and $46.9.

Revenues also have seen a decline YoY. In 2018 revenues were $760 million but in 2019 revenues declined 21% to $594 million and further declined another 42% to $343 million in 2020.


Steak n Shake Franchisor Cash Flow Statement

Steak n Shake Franchisor Consolidated Statement Cash Flows (Dollars in thousands)

Operating activities   
Net earnings (loss)$ (24,599)$ (6,633)$ (46,955)
Adjustments to reconcile net earnings (loss) to operating cash flows:   
Depreciation and amortization$ 18,675$ 20,379$ 18,045
Provision for deferred income taxes$ (3,453)$ (9,340)$ (13,513)
Asset impairments and other non-cash expenses$ 24,636$ 9,113$ 6,610
(Gain) toss on disposal$ (951)$ 578$ 1,069
Investment partnership (gains) losses$ 17,202$ (12,640)$ 39,750
Distributions from investment partnerships$ 51,250$ 11,241$ 2,400
Changes in receivables and inventories$ (70)$ 3,425$ (179)
Changes in other assets$ (2,298)$ 9,735$ (88)
Changes in accounts payable and accrued expenses$ (23,360)$ (27,732)$ (5,376)
Net cash provided by (used In) operating activities $ 57,032$ (1,874)$ 1,763
Investing activities   
Capital expenditures$ (17,852)$ (9,951)$ (17,982)
Purchases of perpetual lease rights$ (2,503)
Proceeds from property and equipment disposals$ 2,147$ 2,876$ 853
Distributions from investment partnerships$ 40,000$ 61,000
Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities $ (15,705)$ 32,925$ 44,368
Financing activities   
Principal payments on long-term debt$ (23,279)$ (2,200)$ (2,200)
Loan from Biglari Holdings$ (11,700)$ 11,700
Principal payments on direct financing lease obligations$ (41,241)$ (61,000)
Net cash used In financing activities$ (5,571)$ (5,685)$ (5,049)
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash$ 10$ (5)$ (78)
Increase (decrease) in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash.$ 787$ (6,380)$ (22,196)
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of year$ 12,601$ 18,981$ 41,177
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at end of year$ 13,388$ 12,601$ 18,981
Cash and cash equivalent$ 10,750$ 9,702$ 12,553
Restricted cash included in other long-term assets$ 2,638$ 2,899$ 6,428
Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash$ 13,388$ 12,601$ 18,981

 Cash Flow Statement Key Insights

In 2020, Steak n Shake had a  net income of ($24.6) million, but their cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash were $13.4 million at the end of 2020. The company in 2018 and 2019 had large distributions to Biglari Holdings in 2018 and 2019 amounting to $61 million and $41 million those respective years but had no distributions in 2020.

In 2020 there was $57 million provided by operating activities compared to 2019 which had $1.8 million used for operating activities.

 How many Steak n Shake units have opened/closed?

Steak n Shake Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (Dollars in thousands)

Outlet TypeYearOutlets at Start of YearOutlets at End of YearNet Change
Traditional Franchised    
Total Outlets    

As seen in the table above both Steak n Shake franchise locations and company operated locations have declined over the past two years. In 2020 there was a significant decline of 97 closed company operated restaurants and 24 closed franchise locations. These numbers are concerning indicating the business overall is in decline or downsizing phase.

Steak n Shake Franchise


Steak n Shake is a fast casual service restaurant that boasts its American brand serving premium burgers and milkshakes. However, the business has not seen profitability over the  last three years and restaurant closings have increased over the last three years.

Steak n Shake is in a very crowded market competing with brands like Shake Shack, Five Guys, and the standard fast food companies like McDonalds, and Burger King.

As seen in the Annual Net Sales data, traditional franchise restaurant locations have an average revenue of around $1.4 million which compares to the average McDonald’s restaurant that has around $2.7 million a year in sales.

We strongly recommend you speak to at least 5  Steak n Shake  franchisees to better understand the financials (see questions to ask).

Think Steak n Shake is the right franchise for you, or are you interested in other franchise opportunities in the food and beverage industry? Check out our listings page on the Vetted Biz website for thousands of franchises available for your investment.

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