Maine is known as the lobster capital of the United States. In 2021, the lobster industry was valued at $725 million. That’s a lot of value pulled out of the ocean.
If you want to bring the taste of Maine to your town, Cousins Maine Lobster might be the franchise you’ve been looking for. In spite of the name, the business was founded in California by two cousins that hailed from Maine. Fast forward to right now and they have 38 food trucks and restaurants and you could add to those numbers too.
How much does it cost to open a Cousins Maine Lobster? To qualify, you’ll need a liquid capital between $50,000 – $75,000 and a net worth of $100,000 to $200,000. These are significantly lower net worth requirements than other food chains where $500,000 or more is the minimum.
The total initial investment ranges from $190,800 to $863,750 with a franchise fee of $38,500. The total startup cost with this franchise depends largely on whether or not you go with a food truck or restaurant unit.
Still curious about Cousins Maine Lobster? Read on for more information about revenue numbers and profitability. Take our 7-minute franchise quiz to find out if opportunity is right for you.
- Financial Requirements and Fees
- Average Sales / Revenue per Year
- Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise Facts
- How Much Does Cousins Maine Lobster Make in Profit?
- Advantages of a Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise
- Challenges of a Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise
- Is the Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise Right For You?
Financial Requirements and Fees
These are the financial requirements that Cousins Maine Lobster needs from interested franchise applicants:
|Fees / Expenses||Financial Amount|
|Liquid Capital||$50,000 to $75,000|
|Net Worth||$100,000 to $200,000|
|Total Investment||$190,800 to $863,750|
Cousins Maine Lobster has two business models to choose from when you decide to franchise with them: a food truck or a restaurant. The initial investment for their food truck is $190,800 to $501,850 while the investment for a restaurant is $257,650 to $863,750.
As for royalty fees, Cousins Maine Lobster requires 6% to 8% of royalty fees and an ad royalty fee of 2%. The term of agreement to run Cousins Maine Lobster is 5 years and can be renewed if desired. This is a significantly shorter agreement than other food franchises that usually require a 10 year term.
Average Sales / Revenue per Year
There is no updated data on Cousins Maine Lobster revenue since these were not made public. But in 2018, the company disclosed that they generated $20.5 million in revenue. According to reports published in 2022, the company increased revenue to $29 million.
Compared to other big players in the food franchise industry these revenue numbers are small potatoes. Take for example Chick-fil-A that generates more than $10 billion annually in systemwide sales. Still, this company fills a profitable niche in many markets that don’t have many options for fresh seafood or lobster rolls.
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These revenue come from the chain starting out as food trucks more than restaurants and were selling lobster rolls, chowder, mac and cheese, tacos, and other seafood treats when they hit this revenue mark. The company even has an e-commerce site now selling what else from fresh seafood.
Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise Facts
|Incorporated Name||Cousins Maine Lobster|
|Industry||Food Truck and Restaurant|
|Subsector||Food and Beverage|
Many would think that Cousins Maine Lobster started out as a very old business but in fact, the brand was founded in 2011 by cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac. Tselikis and Sabin recognized the rise of the food truck scene in Los Angeles and thought serving Maine favorites like lobster rolls could be profitable. So the customers decided to pool their savings together and do just that: serve their favorite fresh Maine lobster treats in a food truck in Southern California.
And guess what? The business did well. They had only one truck and a small staff but they were able to serve 50 to 60 customers which were enough to record exceptional sales especially considering the typical lobster roll sells for $15 – $20 a pop.
Through time, demand for their lobster increased. Jim and Sabin were planning to launch another food truck to be able to generate more sales when ABC’s Shark Tank contacted them. The cousins decided to turn down the opportunity twice. Eventually, the cousins decided to make a pitch on the program and signed a deal with the investor Barbara Corcoran.
At present, Cousins Maine Lobster has 38 locations operating across 17 states with 31 food trucks and 7 restaurants. Their food truck and restaurant menu includes items like lobster rolls, grilled cheese, tots, quesadillas, chowder, bisque, and shrimp tacos.
But you can also purchase live lobsters, lobster meat, crab cakes, lobster pot pies, lobster roll kits, crabs, steaks, and soups online and have them delivered. Online gift cards are also available for purchase on their website. If you really like seafood family bundles can be purchased if you’re planning a meal at home. They also offer cater for weddings, work functions, and other events.
To franchise Cousins Maine Lobster, submit your application online. Within a few days, Cousins Maine Lobster’s franchise representative will contact you. Then you’ll work with their franchise team so they can assess if your market is suitable for Cousins Maine Lobster. After that you’ll receive their Franchise Disclosure Document, discuss your interest with a franchise professional, and then set a schedule for a review call with their team.
The next phase in the process is an exciting one. You’ll be able to speak with cousins Jim and Sabin about the proposed concept and market. You’ll also meet with the corporate operations team. If everything goes well and you feel good about the opportunity, you’ll be eligible for a Cousins Maine Lobster franchise.
But the process doesn’t end there. You’ll get the opportunity to train in Maine so you can learn about the lobster industry. You’ll get to meet the lobstermen and even take your training to the sea. You’ll be allowed a hands-on experience in baiting and hauling traps, measure lobsters, and learn why Cousins Maine Lobster is so special. You’ll also train in Los Angeles along with your operational team. Prior to your grand opening, a corporate trainer will also guide you on your location. And when the grand opening commences, the founders will be with you.
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As mentioned above, Cousins Maine Lobster has 2 business models: the restaurant one and the food truck one. Restaurants are called brick and mortars and can be storefronts, in-lines, standalone units, or part of a food hall. Build outs can range from 200 square feet to 1,500 square feet or more. Cousins Maine Lobster will help you in choosing your location for your franchise where you can build a brick and mortar one.
Cousins Maine Lobster has been successful for a reason. The cousins who run the business still make sure that they’re involved in helping you with your franchise. Aside from Shark Tank, their popularity has taken them places such as being featured on ABC, The Food Network, Today, and Good Morning America. Cousins Maine Lobster is also partnered with Fish Consulting, a national public relations and marketing firm.
Cousins Maine Lobster may not have originally started in Maine but they are spreading through the United States and have a Maine presence in Portland. They’ve already signed four franchise agreements just for the first quarter of 2022 and are looking to open in Minnesota, Kansas City, the Pacific Northwest, Virginia Beach, St. Louis, Orlando, Chicago, and Indianapolis.
How Much Does a Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise Make in Profit?
There are no official records as to how much Cousins Maine Lobster makes in profit, but a report by Maine Biz states that their first quarter sales saw a 37% increase from the same period of the previous year. Though no exact numbers were shown, this goes to show that Cousins Maine Lobster may be doing well. They are adding franchisees and units, which is a good indicator.
Advantages of a Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise
Looking for more reasons to franchise Cousins Maine Lobster? Here are some advantages I identified in franchising this famous lobster chain.
Maine is known as one of the best places in the United States to get lobsters and when you want to franchise a business that deals with catching lobsters, you want to be associated with people who catch them in a sustainable way.
Cousins Maine Lobster is known to sustainably harvest wildly caught premium lobsters. The business is caught by hometown lobstermen and is prepared by knowledgeable staff that Cousins Maine Lobster trusts.
Doing business with people who put care into their products right from the source is a good sign that you’re in caring hands.
We mentioned the training that comes with franchising Cousins Maine Lobster but there’s so much more that they offer. Here is what’s listed on their website:
- Comprehensive multi-stage, multi-location training in advance of your opening.
- Corporate trainers available for refresher training upon request/need.
- Digital Bundle of marketing materials to print or use digitally to market your business.
- Access to proprietary technologies that gives you a leg up on your competition and simplify daily operations.
- Ongoing guidance from a Franchise Director to keep your business on track.
- Use of our branding trademarks.
- Simplified purchasing and distribution.
- Access to our secret family recipes and operations manuals.
- A personal CML liaison to provide onboarding, oversight on real estate site selection or truck builder, construction, design and buildout of restaurant.
- Guidance for local advertising and marketing, and an effective local social media presence.
- Access to a family of established Cousins Maine Lobster business owners to share wisdom & guidance
Knowing that training this extensive comes from the business you’re about to franchise just shows how credible Cousins Maine Lobster is.
Mobile and Brick and Mortar Options
Cousins Maine Lobster has two business models which are the restaurants and the food trucks. Having two business models actually helps franchisees decide which one is more suited for them and allows them to choose which model fits their budget. This is helpful since other business franchises only have one business model and can sometimes not fit the franchisees qualifications. You can also start an affordable business through the food truck option.
Cousins Maine Lobster isn’t just your ordinary food truck. It’s a business that has grown in popularity due to the dedication the owners put into, the delicious items they sell, and the wide media coverage that they’ve received through the years. The popularity of Cousins Maine Lobster continues based on the amount of locations that continue to pop up around the United States. So franchising with them won’t give you any trouble when it comes to marketing because the name is already well-known.
You might just think that Cousins Maine Lobster is just plain old boiled lobsters but no. Their menu covers lobster rolls, lobster quesadillas, bisque, and chowder. And if you want more lobster options, you can just head on to their website where they have a wide variety of lobster cooked dishes that are already prepared to be heated at home. They also have food kits which you can assemble and make. And if it’s just good old fresh lobsters you love, Cousins Maine Lobster also makes it available for you. The choices are plenty!
Challenges of a Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise
It can’t all be too good to be true and it really isn’t when it comes to running a business. There will be challenges to face. Though all of that is normal, we have here a list of challenges when it comes to franchising Cousins Maine Lobster so you know what to expect:
Rising Cost of Lobsters
Lobsters have always been associated to be expensive. In 2021, lobster straight off the boat sold for $ 6.71 per pound. This price is up by 39% since 2019 and up 59% in 2020 (affected also due to the pandemic). The price continues to go up and so will the cost of your food items on the menu.
Cousins Maine Lobster may be a food truck but the cost of items they’re selling may continue to go up which may also lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Unproven Restaurant Sales Volume
There are 38 locations for Cousins Maine Lobster and only 7 of them are restaurants. It would be nice if there could be more restaurants in the future and not just food trucks. Restaurants have a more stable schedule and opening hours which to higher annual sales and easier operations since you don’t need to drive to new locations each day.
Is the Cousins Maine Lobster Franchise Right For You?
Cousins Maine Lobster is a growing franchise with a lower startup cost than many other food businesses. The brand also gives you the opportunity to sell menu items (seafood) that customers are willing to pay a premium to buy. The brand also has a pungent for getting a lot of fresh PR that’s helped bolster brand recognition nationally.
On the other hand this is not one of the big players in the franchise industry yet. At only 38 total units, you could argue the brand hasn’t proven itself at a national level just yet.
What is an alternative Cousins Maine Lobster franchise?
For a food truck that also sells lobster rolls, check out Lobster Dogs. They’re from North Carolina and Lobster Dogs is also selling Maine style lobster rolls and other treats such as beef hotdogs. They have both restaurants and food trucks to franchise and the franchise fee starts at $35,000.
What do you think about the Cousins Maine Lobster franchise opportunity? If you love Maine lobsters, then you might want to give Cousins Maine Lobster a serious look.