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Duck Donuts ® Named 2021 Best Buy in Exclusive Franchise Times Ranking

Fifth Annual Zor Awards Franchise Awards Program Recognizes 10 Notable Brands to Consider in 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Feb. 26, 2021) - Duck Donuts, known for serving Warm, Delicious and Made-to-Order!® donuts, has been named a best buy in franchising by Franchise Times as part of its annual Zor Awards program designed to recognize brands in 10 of the industry’s most exciting and accessible categories.

Designed to answer the question, “What’s the best franchise to buy?”, the Zor Awards is an industry-exclusive award program appearing in the March 2021 issue of Franchise Times. With a goal of introducing prospective franchisees to a few favored categories based on their individual preferences and style, the Zor Awards aids individuals exploring franchising by showing them how to make a selection using an astute business mindset.

“We are delighted to be a recipient of this year’s Zor Awards, as this recognition only further validates our growing franchise’s value proposition,” said Russ DiGilio, Duck Donuts founder and CEO. “We are always looking for our next great partner to join our franchise family, and we encourage those who are interested in delivering delicious donuts to those in their community to get in touch.”

The Franchise Times editorial staff selected 10 industry categories designed to reflect industry momentum and appealing segments within franchising. This year’s categories—intended as lively takes on hot industry segments—are Cluck, Cluck, Get Caffeinated, Spice Is Nice, Puppy Love, Clean Sweep, Lookin’ Good, Outside Pride, Guilt-free Eats, Indulge Me and Road Warriors.

Finalists were drawn from the Franchise Times Top 200+ database, which is a 22-year-old research tool covering more than 650 U.S.-based franchise systems.

After identifying contenders for each category, Franchise Times removed brands that did not publicly provide key information about profitability and overall financial performance, as well as brands that are not actively expanding within the United States. Beyond that, the research team examined six key financial metrics pulled from each brand’s franchise disclosure document, with a focus on profitability for the franchisee. That process also included editorial examination of management teams, product or service offerings, unit openings and closings, recent litigation and financial backing of the brand.

As the final component, Franchise Times hosted online voting during the month of December to reflect industry enthusiasm. This third metric received thousands of reader votes and was used to help determine the final winners.


The initial U.S. franchise fee is $40,000 with discounts for purchasing multi-unit options. The estimated cost of opening a Duck Donuts franchise store will range between $353,350 – $573,000, depending on the location and size of the space. This includes the costs of construction, equipment, signage, initial advertising and the franchise fee. Even after opening, franchisees receive ongoing operations, training and marketing support. For more information on franchising opportunities, visit


Franchise Times magazine is the only independent, unbiased news source in franchising. Its original research has led to well-respected rankings such as the Franchise Times Top 200+; Fast & Serious, a look at the smartest-growing franchise systems in the U.S.; and the Restaurant Franchisee 200, the top restaurant U.S. franchisees. Our Restaurant Finance & Development Conference and Franchise Investment Conference bring franchisors and multi-unit franchisees together in the premier dealmakers events in franchising.


Duck Donuts opened its first locations in 2007 in the beach resort towns of Duck and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. His intention? To solve a family vacation problem: “Our family wanted a place to buy warm, delicious, made-to-order donuts, and when we couldn’t find one, we decided to start our own.”

By 2011, Duck Donuts had expanded to four Outer Banks locations and the donut business was so successful that DiGilio was continuously approached about franchise opportunities by fans who begged for a Duck Donuts in their community. The first franchise opened in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2013, and there are now 100 open franchise locations and more than 145 additional contracts in 27 states and four countries.