We tend to freak out whenever our favorite food items are taken off the menu. Whether it’s a seasonal flavor or it’s discontinued for good, it’s always a sad day to see our favorite foods and drinks go. But what about our favorite restaurants? These restaurants were once huge successes but now, they are huge flops.
This diner-themed restaurant opened in 1980 and was known for its hamburgers, sandwiches, salads and homemade ice cream. It was founded by former Wendy’s executive Graydon Webb. Although at one time there were 120 G.D. Ritzy’s nationwide, after the company was liquidated in 1991, now there are only a few left.
Shrimp Boats was a chain of seafood restaurants that grew to 95 stores in the southeast between 1955 and 1974. Although the majority of Shrimp Boats have closed, a handful of independent stores still remain opened in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
With the rise of McDonald’s, many companies began to try and compete. General Equipment Manufacturing Company tried creating more efficient technology to make burgers and shakes.
In 1958, Burger Chef opened with a conveyor broiler that was said to be able to make 800 patties per hour. By 1972, the chain had grown to 1,200 locations, which came in second behind McDonald’s with 1,600 locations. The fast growth became the problem for Burger Chef though. In 1981, the franchise was sold to Hardee’s.
Kenny Rogers Roasters
Kenny Rogers Roasters is a restaurant that was started by singer Kenny Rogers and John Y. Brown in 1991. It became famous after its stint on Seinfeld. Kramer hangs up a “Bad Chicken” sign to protest the restaurant’s bright neon sign, but by the end of the show he ends up falling in love with the chicken. While Kenny Rogers Roasters had good food, they couldn’t seem to compete in a market that was already highly saturated. Although they went bankrupt in the United States, they have over 100 restaurants in Asia that are doing well.
Minnie Pearl Chicken
Minnie Pearl Chicken got its name from the Grand Ole Opry star Minnie Pearl, who was a comedian. It soon became a rival to KFC with 567 restaurants and 2,700 franchises by the 1960s. In order to expand, the management neglected the chicken recipe which varied between restaurants. The restaurants were finding many first time customers weren’t returning and after they were forced to redo their filing in 1968 to show 1.2 million dollars in losses, Minnie Pearls was scrapped.
Founded in 1957 by NFL Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti, Gino’s grew and became well known for its cheeky commercials and famous Ameche 35 burger sauce. By 1972 there were 330 restaurants. Ten years later it was bought by Marriott for $48.6 million. Although Marriott turned them into Roy Rogers, Marchetti opened a new Gino’s in 2010.
Howard D. Johnson opened up Howard Johnson’s in 1935 along the road in Orlean, Massachusetts. It was a soda fountain and restaurant in one. It quickly became popular and by 1970 there were 870 HoJo restaurants. They were mostly along highways in the Northeast states. After dealing with a stagnant menu of clams, chicken, hot dogs and ice cream, people grew tired of the restaurant. It couldn’t hold up against new restaurants like Long John Silver’s and KFC.
White Castle, which opened in 1921, became known for being the first fast-food burger joint and inventing the square burger. John. E. Saxe and his son saw the success of White Castle and decided to open White Tower in Milwaukee. From its slogan to its look, White Tower copied White Castle to a T almost. By the 1930s, White Castle responded with a lawsuit which White Tower settled. While White Tower grew to 230 restaurants, it eventually died out and the last one closed in 2004.
Sambo’s was founded by Sam Battistone and Newell F. Bohnett in 1957 in Santa Barbra. Sambo’s was known for its Sambo burgers and stacks of Sambo pancakes. By the 1980s it had 1,117 restaurants. But, the franchise started to suffer financially and many anti-discrimination groups saw the name as offensive. The chain started to go by Sam’s or Jolly Tiger in some places, but as it gradually collapsed, many of the Sambo’s became Denny’s.
Clifford Perlman and his brother Stuart managed to get together just enough money to buy a six year old restaurant called Lum’s in Miami Beach. The restaurant started off doing really well and a second one was built soon after. Their daily revenue went from being 20 dollars a day to 150 dollars. In 1971, they sold Lum’s to KFC owner John Y. Brown for four million dollars. It later changed hands to a German company that went bankrupt in the 1980s, causing the restaurant to die out.
Marno McDermitt and former Green Bay Packers star, Max McGee opened the first Chi-Chi’s in 1976 in Minnesota. Chi-Chi’s paved the way for the Mexican food boom in the ’70s and ’80s. While the flavorful food and fast wait time made it a success at first, Chi-Chi’s soon gained many competitors and was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2003. The following year a batch of Mexican green onions was tainted with Hepatitis A, killing 3 people and infecting 660.
Steak And Ale
Norman Brinker, the guy behind the successful Jack in the Box and Chili’s, created Steak and Ale in 1966 in Dallas. He wowed customers with $1.95 filets and a full-service salad bar. With 109 restaurants, Brinker sold the chain to Pillsbury in 1976. The market became crowded with imitators and Steak and Ale shut down completely in 2009.
The first Childs opened in 1889 in New York City. Childs set the way for modern, inexpensive dining with its good food and service and low prices. It was one of the first national dining chains and reached 125 locations in the 1930s. Because of poor management, the locations were reduced to 53 in 1950, and in 1960 it was bought by the Riese Organization, which owns Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC, Pizza Hut, T.G.I. Friday’s and Houlihan’s.
All Star Cafe
Although there were only 10 All Star Cafe restaurants, the chain was pretty well known. It was owned by Planet Hollywood and had many sports icons behind it. Its prime locations ranged across the countries from Times Square in New York to Walt Disney World. This themed restaurant couldn’t gain the appeal of like-minded restaurants, such as Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe, and the final one in Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports closed in 2007.
Peter Everet Westberg, a former White Castle employee, and Fred A. Simonsen opened Top Hat in Detroit, Michigan in 1955. The chain only contained 12 stores and eventually was sold to Church’s Chicken and Elias Brothers in 1984.
Wimpy Grills was founded in 1934 in Bloomington, Indiana. It grew to 25 locations through out the United States and 1,500 outside the United States. The international locations were eventually sold to J. Lyons Co. in the United Kingdom and still remain open, but Wimpy Grills have completely died out in the United States.
Naugles was a Mexican fast food restaurant in Southern California. It was acquired by Del Taco in 1988 and by 1995, all locations were either closed down or converted. Fans and investors are now trying to revive the brand, but it’s too early to tell if they will be successful or not.