Advertisement

25 Old Restaurant Chains That No Longer Exist

In the ever-evolving landscape of the restaurant industry, some beloved establishments that once held a special place in our hearts have faded into obscurity. Read on as we take you on a nostalgic journey through time to explore 25 old restaurant chains that, sadly, no longer exist.

From changing consumer preferences to increased competition and economic downturns, various factors have contributed to their closures. Let’s delve into the stories of these once-thriving dining destinations and uncover the impact they had on communities.

Advertisement

Old Restaurant Chains That No Longer Exist

The closure of restaurants can be attributed to a multitude of factors, including changing consumer preferences, increased competition, and economic downturns. Here are 25 old restaurant chains that no longer exist.

1. All Star Café

Old Restaurant Chains That No Longer Exist
Instagram @flickr
All Star Café
  • Founder: Andre Agassi, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Shaquille O’Neal, and Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Established: 1995
  • Ended: 2007

The All Star Café was a sports-themed restaurant chain that aimed to combine dining with sports memorabilia and entertainment. 

Advertisement

Despite its initial popularity, the chain faced financial difficulties due to high operating costs and competition from other sports-themed establishments. 

Additionally, the decline in sports memorabilia sales and a shift in consumer preferences led to a decline in customer traffic. The All Star Café eventually closed its doors in 2007.

2. Burger Chef

Burger Chef
Instagram @thefoodxp
Burger Chef
  • Founders: Frank P. Thomas and Frank J. Thomas
  • Established: 1954
  • Ended: 1996

Burger Chef was once a major fast-food chain known for its innovative concepts, such as the introduction of the first self-service burger bar. 

However, increased competition from larger fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s put pressure on Burger Chef. 

Advertisement

In the 1980s, the chain faced financial difficulties, which led to multiple ownership changes and the closure of many locations. Ultimately, Burger Chef ceased operations in 1996.

3. Sambo’s

Sambo's
Instagram @youtube
Sambo’s
  • Founders: Sam Battistone Sr. and Newell Bohnett
  • Established: 1957
  • Ended: 1982

Sambo’s was a family-style restaurant chain known for its affordable prices and large portions. The name, unfortunately, became controversial due to racial undertones associated with the story “The Story of Little Black Sambo.” 

This led to protests and boycotts, damaging the brand’s reputation. Sambo’s attempted to rebrand, but the negative association was difficult to overcome. Financial struggles and legal issues eventually led to the closure of most Sambo’s locations by 1982.

4. ShowBiz Pizza Place

ShowBiz Pizza Place
Instagram @davyd916.tripod.
ShowBiz Pizza Place
  • Founder: Robert L. Brock
  • Established: 1980
  • Ended: 1992

ShowBiz Pizza Place was a popular restaurant and entertainment chain that featured animatronic characters and arcade games. In 1990, ShowBiz Pizza Place merged with Chuck E.

Cheese’s, is another well-known pizza and entertainment chain. The decision was made to convert most ShowBiz Pizza Place locations into Chuck E. Cheese’s, resulting in the gradual phasing out of the ShowBiz brand by 1992.

5. Steve’s Ice Cream

Steve's Ice Cream
Instagram @bostonglobe
Steve’s Ice Cream
  • Founder: Steve Herrell
  • Established: 1973
  • Ended: 1996

Steve’s Ice Cream was known for its innovative approach to ice cream flavors and mix-ins. It gained a dedicated following and inspired other popular ice cream chains.

However, increased competition in the premium ice cream market and financial challenges forced Steve’s Ice Cream to file for bankruptcy in 1996. The chain’s remaining locations were subsequently closed or rebranded under new ownership.

READ ALSO!!!

6. Red Barn

Red Barn
Instagram @thehour
Red Barn
  • Founder: Warren W. Roscoe
  • Established: 1961
  • Ended: Late 1980s

Red Barn was a fast-food chain recognized for its distinctive barn-shaped buildings and a menu that included burgers, fried chicken, and seafood. Despite early success, Red Barn struggled to compete with larger fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King.

The chain faced financial difficulties and was unable to keep up with evolving consumer tastes, leading to a gradual decline in business. Most Red Barn locations closed in the late 1980s.

7. Bresler’s Ice Cream

Bresler's Ice Cream
Instagram @flickr
Bresler’s Ice Cream
  • Founder: William Bresler
  • Established: 1927
  • Ended: 1996

Bresler’s Ice Cream was a popular ice cream chain that also offered candies and snacks. It enjoyed success in the 1960s and 1970s, with numerous locations across the United States.

However, increased competition from larger ice cream chains and a shift in consumer preferences towards premium and artisanal ice cream brands affected Bresler’s profitability.

The chain struggled to stay relevant and filed for bankruptcy in 1995. The remaining locations closed in 1996.

8. Carrols

Carrols
Instagram @syracuse
Carrols
  • Founder: Herb Slotnick
  • Established: 1960
  • Ended: 1975

Carrols was a fast-food chain known for its signature dish, the “Tummy Burger,” which featured a square patty. The chain experienced moderate success during the 1960s but faced challenges as larger fast-food competitors entered the market.

Additionally, Carrols struggled with expansion and franchisee relations, leading to financial difficulties. Ultimately, the chain ceased operations in 1975, and its remaining locations were either closed or sold to other restaurant brands.

9. Fashion Café

Fashion Café
Instagram @yahoo
Fashion Café
  • Founders: Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer, and others.
  • Established: 1995
  • Ended: 1998

Fashion Café aimed to combine the worlds of fashion and dining by bringing together supermodels as co-owners and offering a trendy dining experience. Despite its initial hype, the chain faced numerous challenges, including mismanagement, legal issues, and financial troubles.

The Fashion Café’s reputation was further damaged by lawsuits and allegations of fraud, resulting in the closure of all locations by 1998.

10. Scholl’s Colonial Cafeteria

Scholl’s Colonial Cafeteria
Instagram @streetsofwashington
Scholl’s Colonial Cafeteria
  • Founder: Gustav Scholl
  • Established: 1931
  • Ended: 1970s

Scholl’s Colonial Cafeteria was a popular cafeteria-style restaurant chain known for its homestyle comfort food. The chain experienced success during the mid-20th century, but changing consumer preferences and the rise of fast-food chains contributed to its decline.

Additionally, rising labor and food costs posed challenges to the profitability of cafeteria-style dining establishments. By the 1970s, Scholl’s Colonial Cafeteria closed its doors as the demand for traditional cafeterias waned.

11. Steak and Ale

Steak and Ale
Instagram @restaurantbusinessonline
Steak and Ale
  • Founder: Norman Brinker
  • Established: 1966
  • Ended: 2008

Steak and Ale was a popular casual dining chain known for its steak and salad bar. It thrived during the 1970s and 1980s but faced challenges in the 1990s due to changing consumer preferences and increased competition.

The restaurant’s decline was also attributed to its outdated decor and failure to adapt to evolving culinary trends. Steak and Ale filed for bankruptcy in 2008, resulting in the closure of all its locations.

12. Beefsteak Charlie’s

Beefsteak Charlie’s
Instagram @retroist
Beefsteak Charlie’s
  • Founder: Herb Wetanson
  • Established: 1976
  • Ended: Late 1980s

Beefsteak Charlie’s was a steakhouse chain that gained popularity for its all-you-can-eat salad bar and free wine refills.

It experienced rapid expansion but eventually struggled due to financial mismanagement and the economic downturn of the late 1980s. The chain filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors in the late 1980s.

13. Horn & Hardart Automats

Horn & Hardart Automats
Instagram @dailycoffeenews
Horn & Hardart Automats
  • Founders: Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart
  • Established: 1902
  • Ended: 1991

Horn & Hardart Automats were innovative self-service restaurants that featured coin-operated food dispensers. They became an iconic symbol of American dining culture, especially in New York City.

However, the rise of fast-food restaurants and the decline in popularity of cafeteria-style dining contributed to the chain’s downfall. The last Automat location closed in 1991.

14. ESPN Zone

ESPN Zone
Instagram @wdwinfo
ESPN Zone
  • Founder: Walt Disney Company
  • Established: 1998
  • Ended: 2018

ESPN Zone was a sports-themed restaurant chain owned by the Walt Disney Company. It offered a combination of dining, entertainment, and sports viewing experiences.

The rise of online streaming and changing consumer habits affected ESPN Zone’s business model, leading to declining profits. The chain gradually closed its locations, with the last one shutting down in 2018.

READ ALSO!!!

15. Chicken George

Chicken George
Instagram @flickr
Chicken George
  • Founder: George W. Church Sr.
  • Established: 1966
  • Ended: 1994

Chicken George was a southern-style fried chicken chain that experienced success during the 1970s and 1980s.

However, increased competition in the fast-food industry and changing consumer preferences impacted its sales. The chain struggled financially and filed for bankruptcy in 1993. Most Chicken George locations closed in 1994.

16. Minnie Pearl’s Chicken

Minnie Pearl’s Chicken
Instagram @tennessean
Minnie Pearl’s Chicken
  • Founder: Country singer Minnie Pearl
  • Established: 1967
  • Ended: 2003

Minnie Pearl’s Chicken was a Nashville-based fried chicken restaurant chain. It had a strong association with country music and Southern cuisine.

Despite initial success, increased competition in the fast-food industry and changing consumer tastes led to a decline in sales. The chain closed its doors in 2003.

17. Wimpy Grills

Wimpy Grills
Instagram @drloihjournal.blogspot
Wimpy Grills
  • Founder: Edward Gold
  • Established: 1954
  • Ended: 2002 (in the United States)

Wimpy Grills was a fast-food chain known for its hamburgers and milkshakes. It originated in the United Kingdom and expanded internationally, including in the United States.

However, increased competition from larger fast-food chains and the changing fast-food landscape affected Wimpy’s profitability. The chain struggled to compete and gradually closed its U.S. locations by 2002.

18. Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill

Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill
Instagram @shuffleboardmccluretables
Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill
  • Founder: Doug Guller
  • Established: 2006
  • Ended: 2019

Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill was a sports bar chain that gained attention for its concept of servers dressed in bikinis.

While the chain initially attracted customers with its unique theme and sports-centric atmosphere, it faced controversy and criticism regarding its objectification of women.

Additionally, increasing competition in the sports bar industry and changing societal attitudes towards such establishments affected Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill’s popularity. The chain closed its doors in 2019, citing financial challenges and a shift in business strategy.

19. Don Pablo’s

Don Pablo’s
Instagram @delawareonline
Don Pablo’s
  • Founder: Stuart Melia
  • Established: 1985
  • Ended: 2016

Don Pablo’s was a Tex-Mex restaurant chain known for its vibrant atmosphere and made-from-scratch Mexican dishes.

It experienced success during the 1990s but faced financial difficulties in the early 2000s, which led to multiple bankruptcy filings and closures of several locations. The chain struggled to regain its footing and eventually closed all remaining restaurants in 2016.

20. Royal Canadian Pancake House

Royal Canadian Pancake House
Instagram @rappler
Royal Canadian Pancake House
  • Founder: Bill Cunningham
  • Established: 1971
  • Ended: Late 1990s

The Royal Canadian Pancake House was a breakfast chain that specialized in serving pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast items.

It grew in popularity during the 1970s and 1980s but faced challenges in the late 1990s due to increased competition and changing consumer preferences. The chain gradually declined and ultimately closed its doors in the late 1990s.

21. Henry’s Hamburgers

Henry’s Hamburgers
Instagram @en.wikipedia
Henry’s Hamburgers
  • Founder: Henry A. Groen
  • Established: 1954
  • Ended: 2001

Henry’s Hamburgers was a fast-food chain known for its simple menu and affordable prices. It gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s with its quick-service model and quality hamburgers.

However, increased competition from larger fast-food chains and a decline in the chain’s reputation for food quality led to a decrease in customers.

Henry’s Hamburgers struggled to adapt to changing consumer preferences and filed for bankruptcy in 2000. The remaining locations closed in 2001.

22. White Tower Hamburgers

White Tower Hamburgers
Instagram @youtube
White Tower Hamburgers
  • Founder: John E. Saxe
  • Established: 1926
  • Ended: Late 1980s

White Tower Hamburgers was one of the earliest fast-food chains in the United States. It was known for its distinctive white-brick buildings and small, square-shaped hamburgers.

The chain enjoyed success in the 1920s and 1930s, but as larger fast-food chains expanded, White Tower faced increased competition.

Additionally, changes in consumer dining habits and preferences contributed to its decline. By the late 1980s, most White Tower Hamburgers locations had closed.

23. G.D. Ritzy’s Luxury Grill and Ice Creams

G.D. Ritzy’s Luxury Grill and Ice Creams
Instagram @brokenchains
G.D. Ritzy’s Luxury Grill and Ice Creams
  • Founder: Graydon D. “Ritzy” Smith
  • Established: 1980
  • Ended: 1991

G.D. Ritzy’s was a fast-food chain that aimed to provide a more upscale dining experience with its luxury grill and ice creams.

The chain gained popularity in the 1980s, but expansion challenges, financial difficulties, and a lack of differentiation from other fast-food offerings led to its downfall. G.D. Ritzy’s filed for bankruptcy in 1991 and closed all its locations.

24. The Original House of Pies

The Original House of Pies
Instagram @remainsofla
The Original House of Pies
  • Founder: Al Lapin Sr. and Larry Albright
  • Established: 1965
  • Ended: Late 1990s

The Original House of Pies was a chain of restaurants known for its wide variety of pies and other baked goods. It gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s as a destination for desserts and comfort food.

However, increased competition in the restaurant industry, changing consumer preferences toward healthier options, and rising operating costs affected the chain’s profitability. The Original House of Pies gradually closed its locations by the late 1990s.

25. Koo Koo Roo

Koo Koo Roo
Instagram @twitter
Koo Koo Roo
  • Founder: Mike Maltby
  • Established: 1988
  • Ended: 2003

Koo Koo Roo, founded by Mike Maltby in 1988, was a fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in healthy and flavorful roasted chicken dishes. The chain gained popularity for its rotisserie chicken, salads, and side dishes.

Despite its initial success and expansion to several locations, Koo Koo Roo faced challenges in competing with larger fast-food chains offering a wider variety of menu options. The chain also struggled with high operating costs and insufficient brand recognition.

These factors, combined with economic downturns, led to declining sales and financial difficulties. Koo Koo Roo closed its last remaining locations in 2003, marking the end of the chain.

Summary

In summary, these old restaurant chains ceased to exist due to various factors such as increased competition, financial difficulties, changing consumer preferences, negative associations, mismanagement, and legal issues.

Each chain faced its unique set of challenges that ultimately led to its downfall and closure.

Advertisement