Rank no.130-Nathan’s Famous Inc.-US

Rank no.130-Nathan’s Famous Inc.-US

Top 250 Franchise by Entrepreneur-Rank no.130-Nathan’s Famous Inc.-US


Products & Services: Hot dogs, hamburgers, seafood, chicken, cheesesteaks

Number of Locations: 319

Total Investment: $276.35K – 1.07M

Founded: 1916

Began Franchising: 1988

About Nathan’s Famous Inc.

Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker took his wife Ida’s recipe for hot dogs and started selling them from a stand in Coney Island in 1916. The Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest that started that same year continues to be held every July 4th to this day. Al Capone, Jimmy Durante and Cary Grant were regular customers, and FDR had Nathan’s Famous hot dogs served to the king and queen of England in 1939. Nathan’s Famous became a public company in 1970, and began franchising in 1988. In addition to hot dogs, the menu offers hamburgers, chicken, cheesesteaks and fries.

Franchise Units

Year U.S. Canadian International Company Owned
2013 281 4 29 5
2012 266 2 28 5
2011 243 1 23 5
2010 231 0 17 5
2009 226 0 15 5
Where Seeking Franchisees: Franchisor is seeking new units internationally.

Startup Costs, Ongoing Fees and Financing

Total Investment: $276,360 – $1,071,360
Franchise Fee: $30,000
Ongoing Royalty Fee: 5.5%
Term of Franchise Agreement: 20 years, renewable
Financial Requirements

Net Worth: $500,000
Liquid Cash Available: $200,000


60% of all franchisees own more than one unit. Number of employees needed to run franchised unit: 14. Absentee ownership of franchise is allowed. (65% of current franchisees are owner/operators).


Nathan’s Famous was founded by a Polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker, and his is truly an authentic “only in America story.” He started his business in 1916 with a small hot dog stand in Coney Island, New York. He sold hot dogs that were manufactured based on a recipe developed by his wife, Ida.

In the over 96 years that have passed since opening day, Nathan’s has gained worldwide recognition for the unequaled quality and taste of its product. Today, Nathan’s has gained a reputation for being among the highest quality hot dogs in the world.

Nathan’s popularity was almost instantaneous, and in its earliest days had legendary characters such as Al Capone, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, and Cary Grant as regular customers. It gained its first international exposure when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt served Nathan’s Famous hot dogs to the King and Queen of England in 1939. Later, Roosevelt had Nathan’s hot dogs sent to Yalta when he met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Years later, Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York, stated that, “No man can hope to be elected in his state without being photographed eating a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous.”

Politicians, show-business personalities, and sports celebrities are often seen and photographed munching Nathan’s dogs, and heard singing its praises. Barbra Streisand, actually had Nathan’s hot dogs delivered to London, England for a private party. A trip to Nathan’s was the focus of a Seinfeld episode created by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. More recently, the ex-mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani declared Nathan’s the “World’s best hot dog.” Shortly after that, Nathan Handwerker was named to the city’s top 100- joining the ranks of Joe Namath, Irving Berlin, Andrew Carnegie, Joe DiMaggio and others. Even Jacqueline Kennedy loved Nathan’s dogs, and served them at the White House. In his final last will and testament, actor Walter Mathau requested Nathan’s hot dogs to be served at his funeral – they were! The point is Nathan’s is not just a hot dog, it has history and it is Americana!

Last year there were over 435 million Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs sold! Today, Nathan’s is sold and enjoyed in all 50 States and sold at over 40,000 food service and retail outlets.

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