I can just taste the opportunities as I scan the list of Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500.
While many of the companies on the list can be found in the Matthews-Mint Hill area, there are some fast food and fast-casual franchises that haven’t ventured into our community just yet.
Unfortunately, I chose the starving artist path in life, depriving me of the capital to launch such a venture. That doesn’t mean I can’t inform entrepreneurs of these delicious opportunities.
Even if none of these franchises interest you, I recommend you check out the Franchise 500 to find one that fits your budget and tastes.
• Ranking: 3 of 500
• Closest location: 14315 E. Independence Blvd., Indian Trail
Sonic is a throwback to simpler times. The drive-in concept allows carhops to bring you burgers, hot dogs and slushies on roller skates. Its happy hour promotion allows customers to buy drinks like Cherry Limeade and mocktails at half price.
• Ranking: 6 of 500
• Closest location: 7013 University City Blvd., Charlotte
The Sauk City, Wisconsin-based concept has grown on the deliciousness and freshness of its ButterBurgers and Fresh Frozen Custard. The beef is never frozen, while the custard can be enhanced with fruit, nuts, candies and ooey gooeys.
Jack in the Box
• Ranking: 19 of 500
• Closest location: 4505 Randolph Road, Charlotte
Jack in the Box has gained a cult following from its late-night menu, which includes munchie meals with two tacos, fries and drink. There’s the Chick-N-Tater Melt, Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger and Sriracha Curly Fry Burger.
• Ranking: 45 of 500
• Closest location: 4201 E. Wilkinson Blvd., Charlotte
Scratch Biscuits are the stars of the breakfast menu, while Thickburgers attract lunch and dinner crowds craving hearty meals. Spice up a meal by ordering something off the Red Burrito menu, which includes tacos, burritos and nachos.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
• Ranking: 51 of 500
• Closest location: 8475 Pit Stop Court N.W., Concord
Brothers co-founded the fast-casual concept in 2002, naming it after their father, a World War II veteran. The decor pays homage to the 1940s and 1950s. The menu includes cooked-to-order steakburgers, shoestring fries and a special fry sauce.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
• Ranking: 71 of 500
• Closest location: 4620 Piedmont Row Drive, Charlotte
The concept dates back to 1977, when an antique store began serving sandwiches. Antique potbelly ovens can be found in its restaurants. The menu includes deli-style subs, soups, salads and a variety of shakes.
Ben & Jerry’s
• Ranking: 80 of 500
• Closest location: 7800 Fairview Road, Charlotte
Not only can you buy tubs of the socially conscious, super-premium ice cream brand in grocery stores, but you can also devour spoonfuls of fun flavors at scoop shops. Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia are among the most popular.
• Ranking: 88 of 500
• Closest location: 938 Grove St. Shelby
Here’s another drive-in concept that’s not as widespread in North Carolina. The menu consists of low-priced burgers, hot dogs, as well as chicken and fish sandwiches.
• Ranking: 105 of 500
• Closest location: 601 Broad St., Elizabethton, Tennessee
The Fresh Taste of West Mex first opened 50 years ago in Wyoming but has yet to enter the Carolinas. Tacos, burritos and potato oles are the backbone of the menu. Restaurants serve breakfast burritos, too.
• Ranking: 135 of 500
• Closest location: 3605 Davis Drive, Morrisville
Rosati’s roots can be traced back to 1890s New York; however, the family moved to Chicago to create a pizza legacy. The restaurant as we know it was founded in 1964. The Chicago Deep Dish is the main attraction.