Philly Cheese Steak Franchises are the Most Underrated QSR

One of America’s favorite foods makes for a big and underrated QSR opportunity

If ever there was a “best time” to consider opening a cheesesteak franchise, that time would be “now.” When the pandemic hit, Americans began looking for comfort, familiarity, and convenience. That’s just one of the many reasons why cheesesteak franchises are the most underrated QSR opportunity right now.

It’s possible there’s never been a better time to open a cheesesteak franchise and jump into the QSR industry. Charleys Cheesesteak Franchise is here to help you understand the complexities of opening a fast food restaurant, decipher the industry jargon, and cut through the clutter of deciding which opportunity is the best QSR for you.

Let’s get started!

What is a QSR restaurant?

For many potential restaurateurs, this question is a “no brainer.” QSR stands for “Quick Service Restaurant.” Almost immediately, your mind probably went to the fast food restaurant “holy trinity” — burgers, chicken, and pizza.

Charleys franchise counter

But the QSR restaurant industry is far more complex than just your fast food burger joint or that pizza delivery you ordered last night. The QSR market spans everything from made-to-order takeout to smoothies and snacks. Put another way: if you order at a counter and someone hands you your food, it’s a QSR restaurant.

QSRs vary in products, size, investment costs, operations expenses, and sizes. There are QSR opportunities that occupy entire corners of bustling intersections and others that tuck quietly behind a counter in your local shopping mall. This diversity is one of the reasons the QSR industry is so big. Just how big it is, though, may shock you.

How big is the QSR market?

When it comes to eating on the go, Americans want exactly three things: fast, tasty, and affordable. Most QSR opportunities tick off all these boxes before the customer sets foot in the door, which is why the industry clocks in at a massive $1.2 TRILLION worldwide.(1)  In the United States alone, QSR restaurants gobbled up some $283 billion in 2019.(2)

The market is growing, too. According to Marketwatch, the worldwide QSR market is expected to grow at a stunning 8.5% rate between now and 2026. This means year-over-year growth for the right business at an ideal time.

Charleys franchise patrons in line

Consider just the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on QSR businesses. While sales declined or completely vanished for fast-casual restaurants and fine dining establishments, QSRs were uniquely positioned to transition into a “take-out only” delivery model. After all, most QSR concepts enjoyed a healthy carryout business prior to the pandemic, and when dining rooms closed across the country, people flocked to QSRs for their next meal.

In the coming months and years, as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, QSR owners stand to benefit from reduced real estate costs, a vibrant and robust labor supply, and the new customer loyalty that came when the local fast food joint was the only place people could get dinner.

The top players in the QSR industry all have two things in common

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the biggest players in the QSR market are. They’re on every street corner, in every shopping mall, and at every exit on the freeway. The “big dogs” are as ubiquitous as they are unavoidable. But aside from their near-universal presence and taste in real estate, they have two other big traits in common.

The biggest QSR players are expensive — ludicrously expensive. In fact, one “top tier” QSR requires an upfront investment of as much as $3 million per location! Another touts its “affordable” pre-opening price tag of $1.5 million. Few entrepreneurs can afford to drop a couple million on that shiny new restaurant at that busy intersection.

At the same time, the biggest QSRs also jockey for space in incredibly competitive segments of the QSR market. They serve hamburgers, fried chicken, or pizza. And while Americans love their pizzas, it’s hard to claw back that $1.2 million you had to spend to sell them that first slice of pepperoni and black olive pie.

Taking a deep dive into the pizza QSR market provides even more caution for the savvy entrepreneur. Americans may consume $45 billion a year worth of pizza, but there are almost 63,000 pizza restaurants in the United States! That’s roughly one pizza place for every 5,000 people.

There is one segment of the QSR industry that stands out as underserved and growing quickly, though. And that’s sandwiches. Americans eat a lot of sandwiches — $25 billion worth of them every year, according to IBISWorld(3) — or just over half the amount they spend on pizzas. They wolf down subs and clubs and paninis by the bag full. But one sandwich stands out as both incredibly popular and under-served, making it the ideal sandwich to offer up to hungry customers.

The cheesesteak sandwich is a beloved and underrated delicacy

The Philly Cheesesteak sandwich is one of America’s favorite sandwiches. Hot, juicy steak, rich cheese, and savory peppers and onions come together in a cravable, delectable dish that drives diners mad. According to HowStuffWorks’s Echo Surina, it’s the fourth-most-popular sandwich in the country, ranking ahead of Reubens and Grilled Cheese!(4)

Charleys philly cheesesteak franchise cheesteakBut you can’t get a good cheesesteak sandwich at any old hamburger place. When it comes to a quality cheesesteak, diners have to seek out restaurants that know how to prepare the sandwich to the exacting standards they want, out of the quality ingredients they demand.

That’s where Charleys Cheesesteak franchise enters the QSR market.

Opening a Charleys Cheesesteak franchise is a good investment

When it comes to QSR businesses, opening Charleys franchise is a good investment because our cheesesteak franchise taps into America’s love of the drippy, cheesy sandwich while also providing you an affordable entry point to the massive QSR industry.

Opening a Charleys doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. In fact, our franchise startup costs begin at just $253,231. That’s nowhere near the $2 or $3 million you’d have to invest in one of the big burger chains, and that means you have the potential to grow your business faster and recoup your investment quicker.

With multiple franchise models available, there is a Charleys franchise for every neighborhood and mall food court out there, too. Our bright, energetic branding helps you stand out from the competition while our menu offers classics and contemporary takes on the beloved Philly everyone craves.

Get started with Charleys franchise today

Joining the Charleys franchise family is simple. To get started, visit our franchise information pages, where you can get the answers to a lot of your questions. Or request our free Franchise Information Report for more information. We’re excited to help you fill one of the most underrated QSR opportunities around.