Golden Corral Franchise Costs, Fees & Owner Salary (2023)









April 11, 2024


Golden Corral

a franchise?

Golden Corral

Golden Corral is a distinguished name in the American dining industry, celebrated for its expansive buffet that caters to a wide array of tastes and preferences. Founded in 1973, the franchise embarked on its journey to provide a plethora of dining options under one roof, making it a favored destination for families and food enthusiasts alike. The franchise model was introduced in 1987, allowing entrepreneurs to become a part of the Golden Corral family and spread its unique dining experience across various locations.

Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Golden Corral has established itself as the nation's largest all-you-can-eat buffet chain. This achievement is a testament to its commitment to quality, variety, and value, offering guests an unparalleled dining experience. 

The franchise distinguishes itself through a culture of hospitality and community, valuing diversity and fostering an inclusive environment for employees, guests, and franchisees alike. This ethos is integral to Golden Corral's operational philosophy and is reflected in the high satisfaction levels among its franchisees, as evidenced by its ranking by FRANCHISE BUSINESS REVIEW in 2021 as one of the top franchisors for franchisee satisfaction.

Innovation and adaptation have been pivotal in Golden Corral's enduring success. The franchise has continually evolved to meet the changing preferences of its patrons, including the introduction of the "Gateway" restaurant design to offer a more contemporary dining experience. This design enhancement, coupled with the adoption of new technologies such as mobile ordering and curbside pickup, underscores Golden Corral's commitment to staying relevant and competitive in a dynamic market.

How many

Golden Corral


are there?

In 2022, there were
outlets in
the United
States, of which
are franchises, and
are corporate-owned.

What are the

Golden Corral



Advertising fee

2% to 6%

Initial Franchise Fee

The initial franchise fee for a Golden Corral franchise is $50,000, payable in parts: $20,000 upon signing the Franchise Agreement, $15,000 upon site approval, and the remaining $15,000 at least 14 days before the restaurant's opening. This fee is non-refundable​​.


The Royalty Fee is 4% of Gross Sales, payable weekly by electronic funds transfer.

Opening Advertising

The Opening Advertising fee ranges from $10,000 to $15,000, due before, at, and during the first 90 days after the restaurant's opening.

Advertising Contributions

Advertising Contributions are 2% - 6% of Gross Sales, currently set at 2.4%, payable weekly by electronic funds transfer.

Transfer Fee

For franchisees, the Transfer Fee is 5% of the then-current initial franchise fee. For developers, it's the greater of 5% of the aggregate development fee paid by the selling developer or the franchisor's costs to review the proposed transfer, payable before the transfer.

Note: The fees presented here can be found in the Item 5 of the Franchise Disclosure Document. For a complete list of all the fees borne by the franchisee, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.

How much does

it cost

to start a

Golden Corral


It costs between
to start a
Golden Corral
Type of Expenditure Amount
Initial Franchise Fee $50,000
Purchase of Land $800,000 - $3,000,000
Construction, Contractor Site Preparation, Leasehold Improvements $2,600,000 - $4,100,000
Signage $70,000 - $91,000
Furniture and Equipment $1,030,000 - $1,309,000
Opening Advertising $10,000 - $15,000
Initial Training $75,050 - $176,630
License $1,400 - $1,600
On-Site Assistance Costs $125,000 - $195,000
Inventory $50,000 - $85,000
Insurance $30,000 - $65,000
Additional Funds (first 3 months of operation) $19,000 - $125,000
TOTAL $4,860,450 - $9,213,230

Note: The table above provides a snapshot of the main costs associated with starting the most common franchise format (as disclosed in the Item 7 of the Franchise Disclosure Document). For a complete overview of all the expenses involved with the various formats offered by the franchisor, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.


Golden Corral



to its


Golden Corral

Initial Training Program

Golden Corral's training program is comprehensive and designed to prepare franchisees and their managers for successful restaurant operations. The program includes both classroom and on-the-job training components, conducted at certified training restaurants. Key subjects covered include restaurant operations, management, food preparation, and customer service.

Practice Management Training

For new franchisees, an additional level of initial training called Practice Management is required. This six-week program provides a deeper understanding of managing the restaurant's operations. It may include a week of classroom training in Raleigh, North Carolina, covering leadership, coaching, and advanced management skills.

On-the-Job Training for Hourly Employees

Before opening, 8 to 16 hourly-wage employees, such as meat cutters, bakers, cooks, and servers, must undergo 20 to 60 hours of on-the-job training at an operating Golden Corral restaurant. This training includes working alongside experienced staff to learn job-specific skills.

A-Team Support

For the opening of the first and second restaurants, Golden Corral provides an "A-Team" of personnel from Golden Corral and/or authorized franchisees to assist in training and preparing non-managerial employees. This support is tailored to the needs of each new restaurant to ensure a smooth start.

Additional Training Programs

Golden Corral may offer additional training programs as deemed appropriate. These programs are designed to keep franchisees and their staff updated on new developments and best practices in restaurant operation and customer service.


Golden Corral




Golden Corral offers a defined area known as the "Protected Territory" to franchisees, but this territory is not exclusive. The Protected Territory is typically defined by a radius from the front door of the restaurant, which can vary based on demographic factors, business concentrations, competition, growth projections, and economic conditions. The size of this territory can range from 1/20th of a mile to 5 miles in large metropolitan areas and from 1 to 5 miles in other localities.

Despite the provision of a Protected Territory, franchisees should be aware that Golden Corral retains certain rights within this territory. These include the rights to:

  • Operate, acquire, establish, and franchise others to establish and operate Golden Corral restaurants at Non-Traditional Sites.
  • Sell and distribute any products under proprietary marks, including within the Protected Territory, through various channels like the Internet, retail, or wholesale.

This setup means franchisees may face competition from other franchisees, company-owned outlets, and other distribution channels or competitive brands controlled by Golden Corral, even within their Protected Territory.

Can a

Golden Corral


be run as

a passive


The franchisor does not support a purely passive investment model. The franchise business must be under the direct supervision of the franchisee or an approved Operations Principal. This individual must devote substantial time, energy, and best efforts to the management, supervision, and operation of the restaurant or business​​.

A manager who has successfully completed Golden Corral's training program must be present in each restaurant at all times during its operation, ensuring that the restaurant meets Golden Corral's standards for operation and service​​.

The Operations Principal is required to, if necessary, own at least a 10% equity interest in the franchise and must attend and complete Golden Corral’s training program. This person should possess the appropriate restaurant operations experience to manage the number and types of restaurants being developed​​.

Related Posts