Want to Own a Korean Fried Chicken Franchise? [5 Best U.S. Options]

If you are interested in owning a Korean fried chicken franchise in the US, you are in the right place. 

We have collected information on some of the best Korean fried chicken chains that are currently looking for franchisees.

Most of them require prior restaurant experience (although one of them does not!) and can be expensive to start (although there is a broad range spanning from $150,000 to over $1 million), but if you are a believer in the product, it may be worth it.

With that, let's dive into it.

1. Bonchon

Bonchon is perhaps the best-known and most popular Korean fried chicken franchise in the US.  

They were formed in Busan, South Korea in 2002 and got their foothold in the US in the New York area. They have rapidly expanded since. No surprise since they have mastered the seasoning and incredible crunch that is necessary for proper Korean fried chicken. They are my top pick if you are an entrepreneur looking to franchise into this space.  

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Bonchon Franchise?

To open a Bonchon franchise you will need an initial investment between $503,879 to $1,099,004, depending on factors like restaurant size and location. Included in this amount are the initial franchise fee of $40,000 and an area development fee of $10,000 if you open 3 or more locations (credited to the franchise fee).

Once your store is open, you will need to pay ongoing royalties between 3.75% to 4.75%. 

Minimum Requirements For Bonchon Franchise

  • Liquid Assets of $250,000
  • Net Worth of $700,000
  • Restaurant Experience
  • Dedication to Operational Excellence

Availability of Bonchon Franchising Opportunities

One of the advantages of buying a Bonchon franchise is that you are getting in on the ground floor.  

They have availability in every state. Some states, particularly states where there are concentrated Korean populations, like California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have multiple franchise locations, but many states do not have any.  

This means you could be the first in your state to open up a franchise and deliver this product, which can be a big competitive advantage.

What Do You Get?

  • A franchisee support team with over 30 years of experience
  • 3-week management training (with ongoing support) 
  • Real estate and construction support
  • Local marketing support and paid digital advertising
  • Turnkey franchise model

I want to pause on this last benefit and share a quick story.

We are in the process of building a new house and our builder happens to run 3 Bonchon franchises on the side.

He is a local builder in the area and that's his full-time business. But Bonchon allows him to operate these franchises without having to be there 24/7. He obviously has dedicated managers running the Bonchon franchises, but many franchises require their owners to be on-site managers. Bonchon apparently does not. This is huge if you want to own multiple franchises or keep your day job.

Related Reading: If you are interested in other absentee-owned franchise opportunities, check out my article on 7 types of franchises that are suited for absentee ownership (with links to opportunities).

How Do I Learn More?

If you are interested in this franchise opportunity, you can fill out an inquiry page on their site here.

All of the above information sourced from Bonchon.

2. BB.Q Chicken

BB.Q is another hugely popular Korean fried chicken franchise, with over 70 locations in the U.S. They are really big in Korea and are known for frying their chicken in olive oil.

There are a few of these franchises in my state, so I had a chance to try them out. They are tasty and the locations seem to be doing well. 

They also appear to be growing rapidly, with several pending locations on the horizon.

Unfortunately, their website is light on details around their franchising opportunity (although they are clearly looking to expand). Here’s what I could dig up.

How Much Does It Cost To Open a BB.Q?

Although their website does not specify any information on initial investment costs, the range appears to be $300,000 to $1 million based on their online Franchise Application (which provides a drop-down range of budget options).

What Do You Get?

They note that you get extensive training through their Chicken University, which was established in 1999. 

They also indicate that have over 40 researchers who are dedicated to enhancing their menu.

How Do I Learn More?

If you are interested in this franchise opportunity, you can fill out an inquiry page on their site here.

All of the above information sourced from BB.Q

3. Mad for Chicken

Mad for Chicken (or MFC) has been around since 2005 and got its start in Flushing, NY. In 2020, they opened up their business to franchising, so they are relative newcomers to the franchise party.

How Much Does It Cost To Open Up a Mad For Chicken Franchise?

Unfortunately, MFC does not provide detailed information on initial investment costs, although it will likely not be too far out of line with other similar franchises.

What Are the Minimum Requirements For a Mad for Chicken Franchise?

  • Liquid Assets of $250,000
  • Net Worth of $500,000 per store to be developed
  • Experience as a restaurant operator
  • Infrastructure and resources to meet development schedule
  • Real estate experience in the target market
  • Total commitment to development of MFC brand
  • Must be actively involved as an owner-operator or have a dedicated operating partner (who has equity) and will manage the location full time.

How Do I Learn More?

If you are interested in this franchise opportunity, you can fill out an inquiry page on their site here

All of the above information sourced from Mad For Chicken.

4. UFC (Unidentified Flying Chickens)

UFC has been around since 2007 and their angle is that they use natural, locally sourced, and organic ingredients from their trusted farmers and partners. They also have a heavy focus on craft beers, with more than 100 varieties offered.

What I think really sets these guys apart from the rest of the pack are (i) no royalties (yes, that’s right!); and (ii) no prior restaurant experience needed.  

Let’s dive into what UFC is all about.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a UFC Franchise?

The initial cost to open a UFC franchise is between $147,500 and $338,500. This includes the initial franchise fee, which is $15,000 for their take-out version of their store and $20,000 for the full-service restaurant.

What Are the Minimum Requirements for a UFC Franchise?

  • Liquid Assets of $80,000 (per store)
  • Net Worth of $250,000 per store

What Do You Get?

You get 4 weeks of initial training at their NY headquarters and intensive on-site training during the store opening. You also receive support for ongoing operations, QA, public relationship, and marketing.

They offer a turnkey setup, which means they handle everything from beginning to end, including planning, construction, and training. This includes taking care of the build-out, from permits and inspections, to making sure all of the right equipment is in place.

How Do I Learn More?

If you are interested in this franchise opportunity, you can fill out an inquiry page on their site here.

All of the above information sourced from UFC.

5. Choong Man Chicken (CM Chicken)

This is my wife’s favorite Korean fried chicken chain, so I couldn’t leave it out.

We eat there a lot.

They are famous for their snow onion chicken, which is fried chicken smothered with onions in a sort of creamy white sauce. They have been around since 2009 and have over 150 franchises. They are light on details surrounding their franchise requirements, but they go into some detail on their “About” page on how they value their franchisees, etc.  

If you want to learn more about franchising with CM Chicken, you can contact them here.

Up and Coming Korean Fried Chicken Franchises

Mom’s Touch. These guys just opened up their first location in the US in July 2021. They are a huge chicken franchise in Asia, with 1,300 locations, and appear to be making a move into the US. Could be a great ground floor opportunity.

Don Chicken. They are a relative newcomer to the Korean Fried Chicken space (only around 6 years old) but appear to be looking to expand. According to their website, you can email them at donchickenus@gmail.com to ask about franchise opportunities.

Conclusion

So there you have it, 5 great Korean fried chicken franchises, with 2 up-and-coming Korean fried chicken chains that have started to franchise in the US.  

If you want to learn more about starting a business, check out our series of articles on the topic. You will find tons of interesting ideas around various business opportunities, many of which you may not have heard of or considered. 

Young M.

Young M.

Young is a lawyer working in the financial services industry and writes about real estate investing, personal finance, passive income, and starting businesses. He owns and manages 9 rental properties, has started several businesses, and enjoys learning about financial matters, especially anything off the beaten path.

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Passive Income
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