Is there such a thing as a “recession-proof franchise industry?” After 75 years in the soft-serve business, we’d have to say that ice cream is about as close as you can get in food service to a recession-resistant business model!

During recessions, financial crises, and now a pandemic, it’s a common pattern: life gets an overhaul, people tighten their grips on their wallets, and everyone does whatever they can to save money. Many businesses are forced to scale back and even close, but not the ice cream business. Places that serve ice cream are sometimes referred to as a “recession-proof franchise” since they go pretty much untouched by economic downturn.

Here at Fosters Freeze, our signature soft-serve ice cream has weathered economic storms since 1946, and we’re going to let you in on why!

recession-proof franchise potential with FostersTreats in trying times- the secret to a recession-proof franchise

When times get rough, life seems bleak. Just look at the events of 2020 that, in many ways, continue to shape our society today – mandated stay-at-home orders, the inability to see people we care about, the end that just doesn’t seem in sight. People find ways to cope with their dull day-to-day routine since they can’t do the fun things they used to, and live in wariness of catching the virus. 

Food has always been a source of comfort and safety, and snacks and mealtimes can punctuate an otherwise boring day. Treating yourself to a wonderful food item brings joy and relaxation, but ice cream has a few special properties.

Ice cream is cold, sweet, and familiar. It’s such a simple treat that it makes troubles seem miles away. Its versatile and great for all occasions, in any weather and at any point of the day (hey, we think ice cream at breakfast is great!). It’s available in many places and is thought of as an ‘affordable luxury.’ That sure seems like an oxymoron, but all it means is that while ice cream is technically a luxury because you don’t need it to survive, it’s still a relatively cheap one. People can afford to grab an ice cream even when times are tough, which is what has led businesses in the ice cream industry to achieve “recession-proof franchise” status.

Ice cream is the perfect treat because it’s an affordable luxury that’s combined with timeless comfort. The creamy, soft smoothness just takes away all worries, even if momentarily. People need an easily accessible source of comfort that’s reliable, affordable, and that continues to be wonderful, no matter how many times you’ve had it. Ice cream also has an acute sense of nostalgia attached to it, from the days when our parents would take us for a cold treat! At Fosters Freeze, where we’ve been serving up a side helping of happiness and sunshine along with delicious ice cream delights since 1946, we’re here to help people recreate fond memories- and make new ones with their families- even when things seem bleak. That’s the power of California Positivity!


“Grab-n-go” service= a recession-proof franchise MUST!

Aside from demand (with customers continuing to want ice cream), the sweet treat has virtues on the selling side as well. Ice cream is an uncomplicated treat to serve. It has a quick turnaround rate, and a great grab-and-go nature. It doesn’t take long to serve an ice cream, and even with toppings, flavors and any other add-ons or modifications, customers have their ice cream in their hands in just a little bit!

This model also means that many customers can be (soft) served every day, even during a pandemic, as they will cycle through the location quickly. Our model is built upon walk-up and drive-thru service, making Fosters Freeze naturally equipped to handle increased customer demand in these areas. 

Franchise Owners see great success amid the COVID crisis, with some Owners even enjoying record sales. This is all thanks to the built-in convenience that our classic walk-up and drive-thru service models have. Our ice cream franchise has incorporated these models into our business model for decades, and is really well-positioned to handle catastrophic events such as these. Industry experts even say that providing contact-free food service is going to become more important as time goes on, and we’re positioned uniquely to do just that.
We’re glad that we’re able to stay open and serve America the comfort food it needs.

is ice cream a recession-proof franchise industryFosters Freeze- a California legacy

Fosters Freeze is a truly American experience that has evolved into something of a cult classic for California natives and ex-pats across the country. We’ve been around for over 70 years and proudly serve all generations our delicious, high quality products that have stood the test of time. 

Our Founder, George Foster, started this whole thing on just some soft-serve ice cream, buying the exclusive rights to the proprietary recipe we still use today, and going into the soft-serve biz in post-WWII California before soft-serve ice cream was even a thing! 

From there, we’re proud to say that we’ve weathered all kinds of storms, and not only survived through about 12 recessions, but thrived through them, including the COVID-19 recession, where many of our Franchise Owners reported record numbers! We remained fully operational during lockdown – and actually saw a system-wide sales increase over the second quarter of 2020*- further contributing to the association between ice cream and recession-proof franchise concepts.

We’re proud to say that we’ve even become a bit iconic, with our Hawthorne, CA location inspiring the Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun” and even making cameos in Pulp Fiction and Charlie’s Angels. Basically, we’re about as California as it gets- and what could be better in a year that could use a little extra sunshine?

Serve up smiles in your community!

Fosters Freeze can truly be described as California’s first fast-food restaurant. Since 1946, we’ve been serving up mouthwatering American classics such as made-to-order burgers, sandwiches, French fries, and, of course, our signature soft-serve ice cream! With 60+ locations scattered throughout the Golden State, we’re committed to spreading sunshine, smiles, and California Positivity through tasty treats and delicious eats.

If you want to join us serving America some cool, sweet comfort during trying times, then you can be a Franchise Owner of a confections restaurant for as little as $178,000. Stand-alone and co-located restaurants start from $611,000 and $329,500 respectively. 

Our impressive legacy has cemented our position as a true California icon, making Fosters Freeze a LOT more than just another ice cream and burger franchise! Some of our Franchise Owners have been part of the Fosters Freeze family for over half a century, operating original locations that have been part of their family for generations! Our nostalgic appeal, commitment to excellent customer service, and cult-classic status make us a fun and tasty favorite for fans of all ages.

If you’d like to be a part of our family and bring the comfort and wonder of Fosters Freeze to people, we’d love to have you! Come visit our franchise website to find out more! 

* Numbers obtained from our 2020 FDD.


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