What Are the Best Breakfast Franchises in 2021?

What does the landscape look like for restaurants in 2021? Now that the world has opened up a bit more, Americans can’t wait to head to their favorite eateries. After the past 18 months or so, all of us have been waiting to unshackle the restraints of remote work and social distancing. As we do that, breakfast and brunch franchises will top the list of destinations for many a family.

It’s a uniquely satisfying experience. To order from or dine in at a breakfast or brunch franchise in the company of family or friends. It’s an excellent start to the day and a ritual for millions of people that had to be halted during the pandemic. Now that restrictions are being lifted around the nation, it’s time to hit our preferred spots again.

But which ones? What are the breakfast and brunch franchises that stand out from the clutter? Which ones have stood the test of time and which ones are designed to meet the demands of tomorrow? Which ones have an irresistible combination of the right menu, distinct ambiance, and friendly format? 

To make it easy for you, we have selected the four brunch franchises that are already either household names or are about to be. Here are our picks for breakfast franchises that stand out as fan favorites every time.


4 brunch franchises to check out in 2021

1. Toastique

Most brunch franchises approach toast as an afterthought that doesn’t need any imagination. Not the people at Toastique. They realized that the good old toast needed a reinvention. And they’ve done it…and how!

The gourmet toasts you find at Toastique are unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. It’s a modern and creative rendition that’s delicious and exceptionally appealing. But it isn’t just the appearance where Toastique scores. The menu is focused on the health-conscious consumer who doesn’t like to compromise. 

Cold-pressed juices and açaí bowls are only some of the reasons behind the brand’s growing popularity. The fact that they use only locally sourced ingredients places them rooted in the communities they serve. And of course, the chic, rustic feel of Toastique might make you think that you’re at a premium boutique outlet. 

The brunch franchise also has a grab-and-go format suited to the changing consumer demands of a post-COVID world. Customers are increasingly asking for non-crowded outlets that enable digital ordering and contact-less service. Since these are inbuilt into Toastique’s model, the brand hasn’t had to reorient its services. 

Toastique’s gourmet creations and chic decor have also made the brand exceptionally Instagrammable. Without any paid media or marketing during their first year in business, the brand managed to grow to over 6,000 followers on Instagram! Their health-focused power meals and all-natural smoothies are redefining the standard fast-casual dining in the brunch space and winning followers online. 

This crowd-sourced marketing and word-of-mouth have demonstrable impacts on the brand’s bottom line. In a highly challenging environment, Toastique’s first location in Washington DC earned over $1 million in its first year of operation. That’s a single outlet without any influencer marketing or media outreach.


Think pancakes and most people would quickly think of just one name. That’s because few things are as inherently American as a breakfast of pancakes at IHOP, or if you’re feeling fancy, the International House of Pancakes, which makes it a compulsory destination for millions of families nationwide. 

From the classic buttermilk pancakes to the Mexican trés leches, the brand has it all. What makes it exceedingly appealing and enduring is the simplicity with which IHOP approaches its menu. No needless tinkering, just a laser-sharp focus on providing dishes that answer their customers’ cravings. 

Breakfast at IHOP can be a feast for the entire family. It’s a remarkable experience and a distinctly American one at that. But it isn’t just the buttermilk pancakes and crepes that people like at IHOP. Their scrambled eggs, sausage links, smoked bacon strips, omelets, Belgian waffles, syrup caddy, and burritos and bowls are equally sumptuous. 

Like most brunch franchises (but not all), IHOP too was severely affected by the pandemic. The brand has had to reexamine its menu and delivery models. The IHOP ’N GO Family Feasts were the brand’s answer to customers’ reservations about dine-in. Still, if there’s one thing consumers know, it’s that pancakes and waffles don’t tend to travel well, leaving IHOP’s takeout and delivery strategy up in the air if we ever have to return to dine-in restrictions again.

3. Waffle House

The whole world may be going health conscious but Waffle House knows what works for its patrons. And that is comfort food that has all the traditional charm and unrestrained love for an old-fashioned breakfast. 

Maybe that’s why they stick to the basics. If it has worked so well for so long, why unnecessarily change it? Why chase the calorie-conscious when the existing customers treat it as an indulgence? 

So, how well has it worked? Well, if your brand has over 2,100 locations, you bet it’s worked remarkably well. And everything is designed around, you guessed it, waffles.

Every day you’ll find hundreds of thousands frequenting the brand for lunch and dinner but their breakfast is what most people remember them for. While there are hash browns, sausages, sandwiches, steak, and burgers, it’s waffles people seek. 

So, why do people frequent a brand that doesn’t care that much about health-conscious diets? Because it reminds Americans about an intrinsic part of their childhoods. It takes them back to a time when breakfast was simple, homemade, and delightfully traditional, and simple. 

Every day, people across the country head to their outlets to relive those wholesome moments. Waffle House, in that sense, is in the business of serving memories. However, due to growing concerns about how what we put into our bodies affects our overall health, Waffle House has become synonymous with one of America’s guilty pleasures, rather than as a viable, go-to option for frequent breakfast dining.

4. Cracker Barrel

Looking for a traditional Southern breakfast? Can’t go wrong with Cracker Barrel! Starting in Tennessee, the brand has now become a ubiquitous sight around highways, and a go-to destination for road-trippers and locals alike. 

Cracker Barrel’s decor can be best described as resembling an old-fashioned general store from the South. Rocking chairs, front porch, and fireplace are elements common to its outlets. Its commitment to the Southern way of life isn’t just limited to the food or the ambiance. The brand’s deeply committed to everything from country music to support for war veterans. 

So, how Southern is the menu? From the very first outlet, it started serving catfish, fried chicken, and biscuits. Cracker Barrel now is synonymous with country bacon, ham steaks, fried apples, and apple butter, grits, and pancake mix served with natural syrup. Their eggs-in-the-basket and hash browns are also crowd favorites. 

What’s important to remember is that the restaurant chain has two menus – one for breakfast which is served all day and one for lunch and dinner.  You can walk in any time and order a classic breakfast dish. Those who are trying to stay on the lighter side for breakfast fare may not find a lot on the menu to choose from, but Cracker Barrel is an enduring part of Americana that is a genuine pleasure for the occasional Sunday family brunch. 

The advantages of franchising brings smiles to the faces of Toastique owners.

Your turn now

As you can see, when it comes to breakfast and brunch spots, consumers have a broad range of choices. From the health-conscious to the traditional, there’s a world of options out there. And most of it is just a short drive away. 

But if you’re thinking like a potential Franchise Owner, it’s important to consider where the future of breakfast is headed. People are becoming more health-conscious than ever, particularly in light of the events of last year, and are really taking stock of what they’re putting into their bodies.

Moreover, with uncertainty still surrounding the future of dine-in eating, it’s important to select a breakfast franchise with an easy-to-pivot model so you can be sure you’re always a step ahead of the game. 

2021 just may be the best year to invest in a breakfast franchise concept in a long time. With the restaurant industry beginning to bounce back in a big way, coupled with real estate prices at all-time lows in some communities, this could be your chance to become a successful entrepreneur. What you have to do is look for a brand that has a future-friendly and health-conscious menu, friendly format, and proven revenue streams. 

A brand like Toastique, that’s poised to reap the benefits of the post-pandemic customer demands and a steady, growing, and profitable business model. Click here to join the tribe of entrepreneurs who are rewriting their futures by becoming Franchise Owners of Toastique.

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