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Frequently Asked Questions

Curious about the Gold Star opportunity, but want more info? We’ve got you covered.

Below is a list of answers to common questions prospective franchise owners ask while they are researching franchise opportunities with Gold Star. If you don’t see the answer to your specific question on this list, please give us a call using the number on this page or fill out a form to download our Franchise Information Report and learn more.

How old is Gold Star?

Gold Star was founded in 1965, two years after four brothers purchased a well-known restaurant, Hamburger Heaven, and began tinkering with its Cincinnati chili recipe. When their chili sales doubled those of hamburgers, they adapted their approach, rebranded and became the beloved brand that’s in more than 70 locations in the Greater Cincinnati region.

Do you serve more than chili?

Yes. Over the past few years we have expanded our menu to include handcrafted hamburgers (remember, we started as a hamburger restaurant!) and salads. The chili is still the main attraction, and these new items have allowed franchises to build repeat business from customers who enjoy all our entrees equally.

What are my total start-up costs?

Gold Star’s entry point is well below the average QSR restaurant brand. For more information on our startup costs click here or download our Free Franchise Report.

Do I have to have restaurant operations experience?

No, but you do need passion and drive. Many Gold Star franchise owners come to us from other business backgrounds. Some managerial experience is recommended, but our comprehensive onboarding and training program will teach you everything you need to know about running a successful Gold Star restaurant franchise location.

What makes a good location?

Gold Star restaurants do well in mixed residential and commercial locations with a large amount of foot and vehicle traffic. Our development team will work with you to assess any locations you have in mind, as well as perform the market analytics to identify new properties that would work well.

Can I purchase an existing Gold Star franchise?

Yes. Because Gold Star has been around for more than 50 years, we sometimes have franchise owners who are at or near retirement age and are looking to disengage from their restaurant. We will explore franchise-assumption options with you, as well as those for opening a new Gold Star franchise.

May I own multiple units?

Yes. Once a franchise owner has established his or her first Gold Star franchise and is up and running, we are happy to discuss scaling up to more properties.

Gold Star is on the move. We are expanding outward from our Cincinnati roots and looking for enthusiastic franchise partners who want to bring our iconic chili and other delicious menu items, as well as our legendary customer service, to their communities. Ready to learn more? Click here and we’ll send over detailed information and arrange a call so we can answer any questions you have.

What are my initial franchise fees?

  • There is a $30,000 initial franchise fee for the first location, and then a $15,000 fee for the second through fourth additional location (this is waived if an existing franchise owner is relocating an existing restaurant within their territory).
  • The fee is $15,000 if you are purchasing an existing Gold Star franchise.
  • The fee is $5,000 for the fifth location and beyond.

What are the ongoing franchise fees?

Royalties are paid weekly and breaks down as follows: 5% of net sales for traditional locations and 4% of net sales for non-traditional locations.

Is there an advertising co-op fee?

Yes, and it is paid weekly alongside the continuing franchise fee. The co-op fee is 4.5% of net sales for traditional locations and 3.5% for non-traditional locations, not to exceed 6% of net sales.

Is there a transfer fee for buying or selling a franchise?

Yes. A $3,500 transfer fee when buying or selling an existing franchise, and the new franchise owner will sign the current franchise agreement.

What are the terms of the franchise agreement?

The agreement is in force for 10 years, with the option for an additional 10 years. The existing franchise term will be considered in a transfer agreement.

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