When you suggest a restaurant that’s franchised, some people will balk; who wants to eat at a chain restaurant?! But, the reality is that some of your very favorite, quality dining options are franchises and you just don’t realize it. 

With the feel of a hole-in-the-wall diner or an intimate meal experience, franchises have come a long way. They’re not only a great way to know you’re going to get food you love, but they offer people the opportunity to manage a business with brand recognition.

What is a Franchise?

You might be wondering what a franchise is. Simply put, a franchise is a branch of a well-known business. For example, let’s say someone owns a restaurant called Best Burgers. It thrives in its solo location and the owner decides to expand. Instead of trying to manage multiple locations, they can license the Best Burgers name, concept, and strategy and have an investor buy the rights to operate an additional location.

By selling the rights to use the Best Burger name, trademark, branding, and business model, the original owner of Best Burgers can see their enterprise grow without being over-extended as the sole operator of multiple locations. The bonus for customers is that they can get the same Best Burger experience no matter which franchise they visit.

So, what are the BEST franchise restaurants in Utah? Let’s get your mouth watering with these top ten picks.

Best Chain Restaurants in Utah

Not only are some of the tastiest restaurant franchises in Utah, but some of them started in Utah as well!

  1. Libertango Argentine Steakhouse

The original Libertango is located in Campos do Jordao, Brazil. But when the Serodio family moved to the States, they opened an additional location in Sandy, Utah. That means you can enjoy Argentine cuisine that’s rich in flavor and culture just south of Salt Lake.

Libertango Steakhouse features award-winning food and an atmosphere that transports you to South America. The menu boasts gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options to provide something for everyone gathered at the table.

  1. The Crack Shack

The Crack Shack originated in San Diego, California when Juniper and Ivy restaurant owners decided to do something with the eyesore next door. Thus hatched some of the best fried chicken this side of the Mississippi. The Crack Shack now has locations throughout CA, Utah, Nevada, and Texas.

Their philosophy is that all ingredients should be sourced locally so everything is fresh and high-quality when it’s served to customers. From breakfast sammies and fried chicken with a variety of dipping sauces to salads and poutine, this coop has the scoop on chicken.

  1. Slackwater 

Beloved for its pizza, Slackwater opened its doors in 2011 and has three locations in UT (Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Sandy). Serving artisan pizza, craft beer, and acting as a hotspot for live music and events, Slackwater stands out as more than just a pizza joint. 

Find over 300 craft beers at Slackwater, plus mouthwatering dishes for meat lovers, vegetarians, and vegan diners.  

  1. Red Iguana

The Cardenas family started Red Iguana in Utah, and its legacy is carried on by the children of founders Ramon and Maria. Something unique about Red Iguana is that its first location was so immensely popular they opened a second location, simply called Red Iguana 2, just a couple of blocks away. Taste of Red Iguana soon followed.

For the best in Mexican food, Red Iguana’s trio of Salt Lake City restaurants is where it’s at.

  1. Spitz

Fresh Mediterranean food from Spitz is thanks to the hard work and dedication of a Utahn and Minnesotan who teamed up. Now, Spitz’s street-style food, sangria, and craft beer can be found in locations throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Texas, and Utah. Quality ingredients and beautiful street art make Spitz stand out no matter which Wasatch Front location you visit

  1. Cafe Rio Mexican Grill

Based in Salt Lake City but franchised throughout Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming, Cafe Rio is a craze thanks to its sweet pulled pork barbacoa.

With 149 locations, Cafe Rio is a welcome sight when traveling because you know you can find the salad, burrito, or taco you love with all the fixings you’d expect at any other location.

  1. Nielsen’s Frozen Custard

Another Utah-based franchise is Nielsen’s Frozen Custard. Established in 1981 in Bountiful, Nielsen’s has since expanded to locations in the Salt Lake Valley, Ogden, St. George, and even Las Vegas, Nevada.

More than world-class custard alone, Nielsen’s also serves delicious diner fare: burgers, grinders, corn dogs, and more. A family-friendly restaurant, Nielsen’s also provides take-home custard options for diners on the go.

  1. Cupbop

Craving Korean? Then visit a Cupbop location or hunt down one of its food trucks. Junghun Song started Cupbop as a food truck in 2013 with just four main dishes. The franchise has now expanded to locations in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Indonesia.

The concept is healthy, tasty Korean food in a cup with customized protein and spice combinations. Once served up, you shake your cup or bowl and dig in!

  1. R&R BBQ

Who wouldn’t want to eat at a BBQ joint that was born out of competition? The R&R BBQ team started their journey by entering and winning regional contests, eventually opening their own storefront in 2013.

Now, R&R’s mouthwatering BBQ is found at 12 restaurants, tantalizing customers with slow-smoked, flavorful meats that can be enjoyed solo, in sandwiches, or with a side of hush puppies. Not sure which dish to try? R&R BBQ features daily specials to help narrow down your choices.

  1. Zao Modern Asian Cafe

For Asian bowls, wraps, soups, and salads, visit Zao. Located primarily along the Wasatch Front, Zao dishes up Asian fusion cuisine with gluten-free sauces. For fresh, simple Asian food that offers vegan, vegetarian, and Keto-friendly dishes, visit Zao’s for one of their famous bowls.

Do you have a restaurant you’d like to franchise? Or are you looking to invest in a franchise? There are businesses that can help! Knock Out Franchising works as a partner with business owners and investors so they can be paired with the right franchise. There’s nothing better than seeing something go from a single idea to a franchise that thrives.

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