The Biggest, Best Fried Chicken Franchise | Pollo Campero

Biggest and Largest Chicken Franchise

The chicken restaurant segment is a giant in the U.S. market, but which restaurant has the strongest model and a broader-reaching global impact?

With a strong market share and continued growth, the chicken restaurant segment has proven to be a reliable investment. The fast food chicken franchise industry experienced an average 8.4% growth from 2018–2023. In addition to this steady growth, the segment has proven its ability to withstand unstable market conditions. For example, in mid-2020, shortly after major pandemic-related lockdowns took place, demand for chicken by quick service restaurants was already back to nearly pre-pandemic levels.

If you’re considering investing in this lucrative market, here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Chicken Franchise?

Chicken franchises are highly concentrated across the U.S., offering investors a simplified pathway to break into the booming market with the support and structure of a well-established franchisor.

Like any other franchise business, chicken franchises are built on a franchise agreement that outlines the responsibilities of both the franchisee and franchisor. Generally, the franchise model benefits franchisees because they are able to get the business running and reach profitability more quickly than they might if they are starting a business from the ground up. Franchisors enjoy faster, more widespread scale, and they can feel confident that local franchisees truly are committed to the business as local entrepreneurs in their own communities.

What You Need to Know About Fried Chicken Franchises

The fried chicken restaurant has old roots in the U.S. As Southern fried chicken became more popular, fried chicken franchises noticed the trend and decided to capitalize on the demand. Some of the earlier fried chicken franchises include KFC, Church’s Chicken and Popeyes, but the industry has exploded to include many other fried chicken concepts, some specializing in certain cultural flavors or cuts of meat, like wings.

While fried chicken has a long history and continues to be available in many types of restaurants, most fried chicken franchises fall into the quick-service or fast-casual categories. This is an important differentiator because it allows owners to make their product available to a wide range of people. By making the product easy to access and available in a way that can fit almost any schedule, fast-food chicken franchises can cater to a broad customer base. Luckily, the customizable nature of chicken only widens that customer base even further.

Because chicken is so easily adapted to fit local tastes, fried chicken franchises have been able to diversify their menus and recipes to cater to a global audience. However, this very often comes in the form of American franchises entering international markets rather than international concepts breaking into the American market. While the flexibility of offerings is valuable to all business models, international models that are able to establish a name in America stand out among hosts of other concepts that are all similar to one another.

Trends in the Fried Chicken Franchise Space

As the chicken franchise space continues to evolve, some common trends have emerged. The chicken itself remains a go-to staple, but customizations allow the brands to continue to grow and address changing market needs. With the help of dipping sauces, spicy variations, expansion to sandwiches, wraps, salads and bowls, and even the expansion to grilled chicken dishes, which are often deemed healthier, fried chicken franchise restaurants have been able to successfully adapt to current demands and remain relevant.

Though market demand will likely continue to evolve throughout the foreseeable future, chicken itself provides a somewhat neutral foundation that is easily dressed and adjusted to cater to the tastes of today.

In recent years, many fried chicken concepts have also expanded their online ordering, pickup and delivery options. In an ever-changing landscape that rewards efficiency and adaptability, these advancements have allowed legacy brands to maintain popularity and create longevity in the business model. By embracing technological advancements, chicken franchises can continue to roll out new offerings to benefit guests, even when they have maxed out the number of menu changes they are willing to make.

Moving forward, chicken franchises will certainly continue to adapt, integrating new technology, cooking techniques, menu items, flavors and more to streamline operations, reduce supply chain challenges, hone the labor model and maintain demand for menu items.

Why Choose a Chicken Franchise?

Chicken franchises have a rich history in the U.S., and the segment offers a range of opportunities. Many franchise brands come with substantial benefits to the franchisee, and the business model is an attractive one for entrepreneurs who are either just starting out or would prefer to leverage the support of others in an effort to further expand their investment portfolios.

In addition to the benefits associated with the franchise business model at large, choosing to franchise in the chicken segment specifically offers additional perks. In 2022, U.S. consumers ate about 100 pounds of chicken each, illustrating a strong demand for the product across the nation.

These business strengths, combined with local owners’ ability to customize menu items and cater to local demand, present an attractive opportunity with great prospects for the future.

What Are the Best Chicken Franchises to Invest In?


Chick-fil-A is a well-known chicken franchise concept. With incredible operations and well-established processes, the fast food giant is known for quick, friendly service. This allows franchisees to build a strong reputation in the community, but breaking into the franchise system is challenging. Chick-fil-A has a rigorous selection process, and franchisees are only allowed to own and operate a single location, as they are expected to work both in and on the business on a regular basis.

Buffalo Wild Wings

This hot wing concept offers flavorful chicken wings in a sports bar environment. Buffalo Wild Wings has been franchising since 1991 and has established a franchise system of over 1,200 restaurants. While the concept focuses on a high-demand menu item, sourcing chicken wings alone can be challenging in some supply chain circumstances, and the franchise requires a sizeable initial investment.

Popeyes Louisiana Chicken

Popeyes is a New Orleans-founded chicken concept. Born in 1972, the franchise boasts over 40 years of culinary tradition. Because it has consistently adapted and evolved its offerings over the years, the brand has been able to remain relevant in the changing market. Currently focusing on Cajun-style chicken, Popeyes offers some differentiation but is not the only option for similar menu items.

Pollo Campero

There are many giants in the chicken franchise space, but few have the history, versatility, historical performance and growth trajectory that Pollo Campero offers. While the franchise has grown to be a favorite in the States, Pollo Campero’s arrival in the U.S. marked an important step in the global franchise’s expansion. As a Central American chicken franchise concept, Pollo Campero offered clear differentiators for both guests and investors alike.

Our heritage carries decades of tradition into the current-day Pollo Campero model. The key factor that sets Pollo Campero above the rest is our history and the Central American flavor that is infused into our chicken dishes. Started as a family-owned restaurant in Guatemala, Pollo Campero uses a chicken recipe that was perfected over the course of generations to provide juicy, marinated-to-the-bone chicken that is prepared either Campero Fried or Citrus Grilled.

This unique flavor profile draws in new guests who are looking for a dining experience that simply is not available at other chicken concepts, and it provides a familiar, welcoming meal option to loyal fans who support Pollo Campero wherever it goes.

With a strong customer base and a standout product offering, Pollo Campero already presents an attractive opportunity. However, it does not stop there. The franchise also provides a robust support system, showing franchisees the ropes from day one. Upfront training includes education regarding the technology used in the business, the importance of the quality of Pollo Campero products, demands associated with running a restaurant and steps to take to ensure consistency at the unit level. 

However, the support does not stop once the franchisee graduates the training program or opens their own restaurant. Ongoing support is available thanks to a thoroughly staffed Support Center in Dallas, Texas. Support Center employees can assist franchisees across the nation in working to achieve their personal long-term goals, digging deeper into financials, labor strategy and cost of goods.

When you start a Pollo Campero franchise, you are bringing a refreshing take on a go-to staple to your community with the backing of an established brand and dedicated customer base.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Chicken Franchise Business?

The initial investment required to launch a chicken franchise can range greatly depending on the initial franchise fee, real estate requirements from the franchisor, the cost of any technology required to outfit the location and any special equipment. Some chicken franchises boast initial investments in the thousands of dollars, and others climb to the multi-million dollar mark. 

When evaluating the options, it is important to remember that each franchise model is different, and costs may be associated with different aspects of development. An initial investment should be viewed as just that — the start of a long-term journey with the brand. Sometimes, a higher initial investment can unlock resources and brand equity that will propel a local franchisee forward, positioning them to achieve profitability more quickly and ultimately positioning them to secure a greater return on their investment.

The market you are trying to enter, the amount of education and support available, ongoing and overhead costs, and the business model itself can all impact the total initial investment range. Instead of choosing a franchise business based on the initial investment range alone, franchisees should always analyze the cost compared to the benefit they will receive and use this thorough view of the opportunity to make the final decision.

Are Chicken Franchises Profitable?

Franchisors cannot legally guarantee a certain amount of sales or profits, but the longevity of the industry should be taken as a positive sign. For franchise systems to continue growing and span the course of decades, like many of the big names have, it is important that they offer a business model and support structure that positions franchisees to succeed — assuming they are dedicated to the growth of their restaurant and follow the prescribed plan.

To evaluate the profitability of a specific franchise brand, an investor should look to the Franchise Disclosure Document. This document will often contain an Item 19, a section that details average unit volumes and other financial representations that the franchisee can use to inform their decision and predict the potential performance of their own location(s).

Profitability can be impacted by costs, franchisor controls and contractual obligations, market trends, real estate selection and more, so it is important to understand and make strategic decisions with these factors in mind.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Owning a Chicken Franchise?

The primary con called out among many franchisees is the idea that the franchise agreement heavily favors the franchisor. Some entrepreneurs feel that entering into a franchise agreement will remove agency, requiring them to do exactly what the franchisor prescribes with little to no input of their own, even if they are familiar with the business and their local market. This perception is largely unfounded, and taking a close look at the Franchise Disclosure Document and Franchise Agreement can reveal that.

Some franchisees are hesitant to pay franchise-specific costs like the franchise fee, royalties or ongoing marketing charges, but these additional costs go to support the resources associated with the franchise model. For many owners, paying a small percentage of monthly revenue to have national marketing efforts completely handled is a welcome trade-off.

Another potential challenge associated with chicken restaurant franchises can be the supply chain. During the height of pandemic-related supply chain challenges, many chicken concepts struggled to secure ingredients for their primary dishes. While being a part of a franchise system does not guarantee immunity from a broken supply chain, franchisees are part of a bigger system that has leverage and foresight when working with suppliers.

While prospective franchisees should certainly consider the potential downsides of investing in a franchise model, careful research with the help of a neutral source can often quell the nerves of an investor and guide them toward a favorable outcome. Franchising has become a booming business model because of its strengths. In a proper franchise relationship, both parties benefit. For the franchisee, this benefit comes in the form of pre-established brand awareness, an existing system of supporting franchisees, a well-developed training program, ongoing support and expert leadership from the top down that will drive a successful, sustainable business.