If you are looking for a food franchise opportunity and have a passion for sushi, a business in this industry might be an excellent option for you! Sushi is a huge market, and with its healthy options and delicious taste, it is becoming more and more popular in the United States every day. There are many different sushi franchises to choose from, so it is important to do your research before making a decision.
Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of owning a sushi franchise and provide helpful information on some of the top opportunities available.
What is a Sushi Franchise?
In simple terms, it is a way of distributing services and sushi products to a sushi franchisor. In this business arrangement, the franchisee establishes the franchisor’s brand and operations after paying an initial investment. The franchisee then pays royalties and other fees to the franchisor for the right to operate the establishment under the franchisor’s name.
Moreover, a sushi franchise is a great opportunity for those who relish Japanese food and want to be their own boss. When you purchase a sushi franchise, you are given the right to use the franchisor’s name and logo, as well as access to their recipes, methods, marketing materials, and more.
- READ MORE: See our Franchise Guide
The Sushi Industry in 2022
As the healthy eating index in the United States increases, the potential for successful sushi franchises does too. In fact, the number of businesses in the sushi industry in the United States has grown 3.6% per year on average between 2017 – 2022, according to industry reports. That trend is expected to continue. That’s a lot of rice bowls!
Additionally, Japanese sushi bars have evolved over the last three decades. During that time, masterful chefs offered their own unique spin on traditional Japanese cuisine, helping to make it more mainstream. Sushi can now be found in supermarkets, kiosks, all-you-can-eat conveyor belt eateries and even gas stations.
Why You Should Consider a Sushi Franchise
There are many reasons why you should consider sushi franchising in 2022, but we’ve compiled the top four:
- It’s a recession-resistant industry: When the economy takes a downturn, people still want to eat out—they just trade down to cheaper options. Sushi is seen as an affordable luxury, so it tends to weather economic storms better than other restaurants.
- You like being your own boss: Small business owners usually do well if they enjoy what they do and are knowledgeable about the operation. If you like the idea of entrepreneurship and providing excellent service as a sushi master, then a sushi franchise may just be perfect for you.
- It’s a healthy option: Sushi is often made with fresh seafood, vegetables, and rice—all of which are extremely healthy. As the health-consciousness of Americans continue to rise, so too will the demand for sushi.
- It’s a growing industry: As mentioned before, the sushi industry is expected to grow significantly in the next few years. This provides a great opportunity for those who want to get in on the ground floor of a booming industry.
Top Sushi Franchise Opportunities
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of owning a sushi business, let’s take a look at some of the potential franchises available:
1. Rock n Roll Sushi
If you’re looking for a business that is both fun and profitable, Rock n Roll checks all the boxes. The company was founded in 2010 in Mobile, Alabama by husband-and-wife super team Lance and Gerry Mach Hallmark. The eateries also have full bars, making them perfect for enjoying a night out with friends. Rock n Roll features American-style sushi products that set them apart from other sushi restaurants.
- Opportunites: 50+ units
- Initial investment: $218,500 – $585,000
- Franchise Fee: $30,000
Rock n Roll Sushi franchising information
2. Koi Sushi Bar
Incorporated in 2010, Koi allows new potential franchisees to visit and shows well to potential buyers. Their theme includes amazingly-priced fresh and delicious fish served in authentic Japanese sushi bar style. Its business model is structured to make sure you have a smooth and stable business every day. So if you’re looking for a sushi franchise opportunity that can provide you with a steady stream of customers, Koi is definitely worth considering.
- Opportunities: 12 units
- Initial investment: $187,468 – $461,600
- Franchise Fee: $60,000
Koi Sushi Bar franchising information
3. Samurai Sam’s Teriyaki Grill
While not exactly a traditional sushi place, per se, quick-service Samurai Sam’s Teriyaki Grill offers a wide selection of healthy Japanese cuisines like grilled egg rolls, wok-stirred veggies, Gohan bowls, and yakisoba noodles. Founded in 1994, they have a fast-casual atmosphere, making them perfect for busy families or those on the go.
- Opportunities: 19 units
- Initial investment: $106,260 – $432,050
- Franchise Fee: $7,500 – $30,000
- Royalty fees: 6%+
Samura Sam’s franchising information
4. Ace Sushi
Since 1990, Ace has been creating and serving high-quality sushi and other Asian fusion foods to great success in kiosks located within U.S. supermarkets. They started offering franchise opportunities in 2005, providing services such as chef instruction, kiosk set up, and access to all the supplies needed to run a franchise. Plus, franchisees can create a wide array of assortments from AFC’s wide selection of products.
- Opportunities: 1,000+ locations worldwide
- Initial investment: $16,832 – $40,519
- Franchise Fee: $2,400 – $3,600
Ace franchising information
The Benihana company was founded in 1964 by Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki, and it makes the list because they delve into sushi and other Japanese cuisines. Their main focus is teppanyaki-style cooking where the chef prepares the meal in front of you on a large griddle. Teppanyaki is not to be confused with hibachi, known as ‘shichirin’ in Japan. Shichirin is a less expensive option when it comes to franchising, and it involves placing a small charcoal grill in the center of the table for customers to cook their own meals.
- Opportunities: 100+ units
- Minimum initial investment: $3,000,000
- Franchise Fee: $40,000
- Royalty Fee: 5%
Benihana franchising information
6. Sansai Fresh Grill
Founded in 2002, Sansai Fresh Grill is a unique California sushi franchise that offers an array of healthy and delicious meals. Its main goal is to be a leading national restaurant for quality sushi and bento items. Their menu lineup includes sushi rolls, soups, salads, tempura, grilled skewers, combo plates and more. If you decide to contribute to their expansion program, you’ll receive assistance with site selection, accounting, marketing support and more.
- Opportunities: 22 units
- Investment: $440,900 – $801,000
- Franchise Fee: $35,000
- Royalty Fees: 5.5%
Sansai Fresh Grill franchising information
Alonzo Martinez visited Singapore in 2013, and during his time there he saw an early concept of a sushi burrito firsthand. Afterward, he had the ingenious idea to put a Latin spin on things and the mashup “buredo” concept was born. His creation led to the first fast-casual and chef-inspired Komotodo chain in Denver, Colorado a year later. Guests visiting Komotodo can choose from a variety of burritos that are packed with flavors.
- Investment: $168,000 – $439,000
- Franchise Fee: $30,000
- Royalty Fees: 5%
Komotodo franchising information
GYU-Kaku has been awarded the prestigious Hot Concept Award by the Oscars of the eatery business, Nation’s Restaurant News. Gyu-Kaku features tiered all-you-can-eat courses cooked Japanese BBQ style, or yakinuku, as it is known in Japan. They also serve their house Gyu-sushi, which is hand-crafted roast beef sushi splashed with their shoyu barbecue sauce and served alongside Kuki-wasabi.
- Units in operation: 50 units in North America
- Investment: $1,215,444 – $2,606,540
- Franchise fee: $50,000
- Royalty fees: 4.5% – 5.0%
Gyu-Kaku franchising informaion
9. Sushi Freak
Sushi Freak is a fast-casual establishment that was founded in San Diego, California. The chain is known for its customizable sushi rolls, where customers can choose from a variety of fresh fish, vegetables and sauces. If you decide to become a Sushi Freak, you can expect support in specific areas like recipes and food preparation, architectural design, corporate training and ongoing updates for increasing profitability.
- Units in operation: 3,300
- Initial investment: $179,900 – $279,000
- Franchise fee: $35,000
Sushi Freak franchising information
10. Ninja Sushi
If you are interested in being a franchisee in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, then check out Ninja Sushi. The company was founded in 2003 and has been providing quality sushi ever since. They sell nigiri sushi, hand rolls, specialty rolls, and chirashi, as well as bento boxes, salads and noodle dishes. They provide training, materials, equipment and more through their franchise program. The locations available right now are Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai.
- Opportunities: 10 units
- Investment: $247,300 and $500,600
- Franchise fee: $30,000
Ninja Sushi franchising information
11. Sumo Sushi & Bento
Sumo Sushi & Bento has been franchising for over a decade and is now taking the leap to other countries, including the United States. As the name suggests, the casual dining company serves both sushi and bento boxes, as well as gorgeously crafted tartare, poke bowls and hibachi-grilled meats. In exchange for ongoing royalties, they provide things like expert training and ongoing assistance to help you build a Class A business.
- Investment: $817,000 – $1,100,000
- Franchise fee: $35,000
- Royalty fees: 4.5% – 5.0%
Sumo Sushi & Bento franchising information
12. Sarku Japan
Sarku knows that in Japan folks often take their lunches quickly, and their storefront and mall locations play to that by delivering fresh made-to-order sushi rolls, bento boxes, tempura and teriyaki without delay. Its business model has earned it a place as one of the most successful quick-service restaurant chains (QSR) in the United States.
- Units in operation: 250
- Investment: $292,300 – $598,500
- Franchise fee: $30,000
Sarku Japan franchising information
13. AFC Sushi
AFC is another sushi bar company that supplies delicious sushi rolls, meat bowls and cold and hot noodles to grocery stores. They also service other industries such as university and military campuses and corporate office food courts. If you’re looking for a franchise that has a global presence, AFC with over 4000 locations in the United States, Canada, and Australia, has one of the largest sushi franchises in the world.
- Units in operation: 4,000
- Startup costs begin at $50,000
AFC Sushi franchising information
Sushi bars that offer kaiten-zushi use a strategically placed conveyor belt to deliver tasty dishes to customer tables. For the most part, these types of establishments aren’t offering franchise opportunities. There are a few that do, but they require you to contact them for franchise information. If you are tech-oriented and have a vision of owning an uber-efficient sushi bar, this might be the franchise or even a nice startup idea for you.
Yoshinoya started their Tokyo fish markets in 1899, expanding to California in the late 70s. They prepare and serve sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes such as donburi and udon. If you take on a Yohinoya franchise, you’ll be happy to know they’ll provide your enterprise with instruction and manuals, marketing help and POS systems for accepting payments and training.
- Units in operation: 89
- Investment: $509,498 – $806,375
- Franchise fee: $24,750 – $27,500
- Royalty: 5.0% – 5.5%
Yoshinoya franchising information
How to Choose the Best Franchise to Set Up Your Sushi Restaurant
When it comes to choosing the best franchise to set up your sushi restaurant, there are a few factors you should consider.
- The initial investment: Franchises in this industry can range in price from a few hundred thousand dollars to well over a million dollars. You should choose a franchise that is within your budget. Also, make sure to consider other fees and that you have the minimum liquidity they require.
- The location: Where your business will be is important for success. Therefore, you’ll want to choose a location that is in a high-traffic area with a lot of potential customers.
- The menu: The franchisor’s menu is important because it will determine what type of Japanese food you will serve. Also, it’s best to choose a franchise that has a menu that you are passionate about.
- The support: The assistance that the franchisor provides to your business is important and will largely determine your ability to run your business. You want to choose one that provides you with the most training, constant support and other perks so your operating model can be as successful as possible.
- READ MORE: How to Start a Food Truck Business
How Much Does It Cost to Open a Sushi Franchise?
The costs of opening a franchise of any kind can vary depending on the size and location of your restaurant. It can also vary wildly depending on the type of establishment it is. For instance, we saw startup costs range from about $50K for a grocery store kiosk to $3M for a high-end teppanyaki restaurant like Benihana.
However, on average, you should expect to spend at least $500,000 on startup costs when you figure in the initial franchise fee, an investment fee, royalties, marketing, liquor licensing and other miscellaneous costs. Technology concepts can drive up the cost of ownership, so if you have your heart set on a sushi-making robot or conveyors, be sure to tally in their costs as well.
Are Sushi Franchises Profitable?
Perhaps the better question franchisees should ask is: Is selling sushi solely on its own profitable? In many Asian restaurants, sushi and sashimi typically lose money. On the bright side, the profits gleaned from mass-produced cooked foods often offset monetary losses.
That being said, there are many sushi franchises that are profitable. These businesses have several things in common:
- They’re usually part of a larger chain of restaurants, so they have the buying power to get discounts on fish and other ingredients.
- They tend to be located in high-traffic areas, such as malls or airports.
- They offer a wide variety of menu items, so they can appeal to a wider range of consumers.
- They have efficient operations, so they can keep their costs down.
- See our Franchise Guide
- How to Start a Food Truck Business
Image: Envato Elements
This article, “15 Sushi Franchise Opportunities” was first published on Small Business Trends