If you are a burrito lover, odds are you have heard of Baja Fresh. This west coast Tex Mex chain first opened in 1990 and currently operates over 162 restaurants in 3 different countries. The brand is known for its emphasis on fresh ingredients and self-serve salsa bar in every location. Baja Fresh pulls in around $32.4 million in revenue each year and the majority (90%) of Baja Fresh locations are franchise-operated.
In short, the cost to open a Baja Fresh franchise location is between $322,310-$974,290 for a single location restaurant or between $210,200-$620,200 for an express location. These costs vary based on property costs and the cost of equipment, among other differences in location, training, and legal costs.
The company has been working with franchise owners since they first opened over 30 years ago. As of 2020, Baja Fresh ranked number 113 on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 yearly round-up of the best franchise chains to own. So, there is ample opportunity to buy into this fast-casual burrito restaurant. To help you out, we put together this comprehensive guide on the costs of opening a Baja fresh franchise.
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Baja Fresh Franchise?
Baja Fresh has a long history of working with franchise owners. Over that time, they have managed to put together a fairly accurate summary of the costs of opening a franchise. First, the company has some franchising requirements. Franchisees are typically required to have about $200,000-$250,000 in liquid assets and must have previous experience working with restaurant management and leadership. The company also looks for energetic individuals who want to share their food philosophy.
Overall, Baja Fresh costs are not as expensive as some other franchise opportunities. The corporate offices have managed to put together great vendor relationships to keep costs low and their streamlined organization and menu keep operating costs low. You also get all the benefits of proven operating strategies from the corporate offices.
There are two major options for opening a Baja Fresh franchise: a single restaurant or an express restaurant. We will cover the costs of each option below.
Single Restaurant Cost
A single restaurant lets you build your own full-sized Baja fresh restaurant. The full-sized locations have full seating for guests. When you buy a single restaurant location, you will be starting mostly from scratch but you will have the support of the corporate to help you find a location, equipment, market, supplies, and more.
Baja Fresh estimates that the cost of opening a single restaurant location will be between $322,310-$974,290. These costs include everything you need to start a Baja Fresh location, such as lease agreement, inventory, marketing costs, furniture, fixtures, employee salaries, and more. A single restaurant location averages between 1,200 to 2,000 square feet.
Overall, this cost can vary greatly because the cost of real estate, raw materials, and labor can differ significantly depending on where you are. Another relevant factor is whether you are building a new store from the ground up or converting an existing storefront into a Baja Fresh location.
Express Location Costs
An express location is a smaller inline or end cap location that is commonly found in airports, universities, campuses, and other locations with a small footprint. Since express locations are smaller, they usually have fewer costs than opening a single restaurant. Baja Fresh estimates that the cost of opening an Express location will be between $210,200 – $620,000.
The lower cost of an express location is due to the lower real estate costs, equipment costs, and supplies costs. Smaller express locations also do not require as many employees so they do not incur as high of costs in wages.
Probably the single biggest difference in costs between the two locations is real estate. A single restaurant requires an entire building while an express location requires a much smaller installation. Express locations can fit into a space as small as 670 square feet.
Baja Fresh Franchising Costs
Like any good restaurant, Baja Fresh charges a franchise fee. The franchise fee is used to provide resources to help your new business get off the ground as fast as possible. Franchise fees can go as low as $25,000 for some express locations but can go as high as $50,000 and up. The exact franchise fee you will have to pay depends on the location and various individual factors about your application.
Additionally, Baja Fresh has a few ongoing fees. Franchise owners must pay an advertising fee of 4% every month and a 5% royalty fee on all sales made in-store. This royalty fee is meant to pay for research & development, professional development, and other ongoing support costs. The company also offers a 20% discount on franchising fees if you are a veteran.
When you sign up for a Baja Fresh franchise, the franchise term is 10 years. So you will be locked into an agreement for the next decade. The company will pay for comprehensive training for all aspects of owning and operating a franchise. You also cannot run the franchise part-time. Franchise ownership is a full-time deal for Baja Fresh.
How Much Can a Baja Fresh Franchise Owner Make?
Baja Fresh does not publish figures on how much franchise owners make and we could not find any reports of salaries from franchise owners. However, we can do some quick math to estimate how much revenue a single location pulls in per year.
As of 2020, Baja Fresh locations pull in about $32..4 million per year. Given that there are approximately 162 locations, that comes out to about $2,000,000 in revenue per location. That number is just a rough estimate and the actual revenue per location is likely different. For example, a franchise in a high-traffic location that sees a lot of customers might have a higher average annual revenue.
As of the time of writing this article Baja Fresh is currently offering franchising opportunities in California, Texas, Oregon, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, and Nevada. The average salary of a franchise owner in these states is likely different due to different operating expenses and traffic.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a Baja Fresh franchise cost?
As a rough estimate, a Baja Fresh franchise costs approximately between $322,310-$974,290 for a single restaurant location and between $210,200-$620,200 for an inline or end cap location. These costs are just average and may not accurately represent every franchising opportunity.
Which kind of Baja Fresh locations are the cheapest?
The cheapest kind of Baja Fresh franchise to get is an express location. However, most franchising opportunities available are single restaurant locations.
How much is the Baja Fresh franchising fee?
Baja Fresh charges franchising fees as low as $25,000 for an express location and normally charges around $50,000 for an express location. Franchising fees differ based on location and other factors relevant to your application.
What royalties does Baja Fresh charge?
Baja Fresh charges a 5% royalty on all in-store sales in addition to a 4% advertising fee. That means about 9% of your gross revenue will go to royalty fees.
How much liquid cash do I need to start a Baja Fresh franchise? Generally speaking, you need around $200,000 in liquid capital to be accepted as a franchise partner. Some partners may be required to have up to $250,000 in liquid assets to be eligible as a franchise partner.
What kind of training is required?
Baja Fresh corporate will pay for up to 240 hours of on-the-job training and up to 40 hours of classroom training. They also offer a wide range of ongoing support such as advertising email marketing and website development.
Is buying a Baja Fresh franchise worth it?
Yes, buying a Baja Fresh franchise is worth it. The average Baja Fresh location generates about $2,000,000 per year. The vast majority of Baja Fresh locations are franchise-owned as well. So if you want a piece of that revenue, then you should look into owning a Baja Fresh restaurant.
Baja Fresh is a unique kind of offering in a world dominated by fast food. This smaller chain is rapidly growing in popularity, and there has never been a better time to open a franchise.
Baja Fresh costs less than many other franchise opportunities to open a location and there is a good range of locations to choose from. You can choose to open a full-sized restaurant location or open a smaller express location. When you open a franchise with Baja Fresh, you get all the assistants of their corporate offices for marketing, sales, training, and more.
So if you are interested in restaurant franchising opportunities, then Baja Fresh is one that is worth checking out. You can make a lucrative business owning and operating a Baja Fresh franchise.