Fast Food Chains You Might See Less Of In 2021
Chain restaurants are like old friends. They are comforting, inviting, and a mandatory stop on every trip, especially during the country’s long family trips. They are also practical and familiar – you know what you are getting as soon as you step in. You may even say that they are part of a family in a way, so when they close their doors food good, you may feel blue.
It’s stressful to watch your local food favorite disappear. Chain restaurants shut down for different reasons: intense competition, higher rent, or global problems like in 2020, it all can lead to businesses closing their doors for good. Not even the biggest chains can survive global issues. For example, Steak ‘n Shake, established over 80 years ago, has announced it’s closing more than 50 locations. Some restaurants had to switch to delivery and takeout, and many failed. We have created a list of chain restaurants that are closing soon. Read on to see if you are in danger of losing your favorite restaurant.
Subway is one of the most popular food chains, globally. For decades they have been known as a healthy fast option. However, in the last few years, this brand slowly but surely is going down. Not even the “Eat Fresh” campaign could save them. Customers are more oriented toward fresh and home-made food today, saying goodbye to fast-food chains and stands.
As a result, the famous sandwich chain closed more the 350 locations just in the States in 2016. In the next three years, they closed almost 2,000 locations. As of 2020, Subway closed around 23,600 restaurants globally, and the number is still going up.
Did this giant come to an end? According got many business analysts, Starbucks needs to evolve, or they will vanish. Starbucks is a global brand with thousands of locations globally. Sadly, your favorite Starbucks coffee may disappear entirely in the next few months.
Just in 2019, Starbucks closed 150 of its shops. You may expect to walk further to get that Starbucks product. On the other hand, they are opening more ‘pickup’ locations, so maybe they are setting a new ordering trend and paying by the app?
43. Pizza Hut
Older generations know that there is no date like a date at Pizza Hut. After all, nothing says happiness like pizzas, breadsticks, and pitchers of Pepsi in the favorite food chain.
Having a meal at Pizza Hut is more than eating, it’s a real experience. Eating at Pizza Hub is more about creating memories. Sadly, new generations maybe won’t get to experience how to have a first date at Pizza Hut. As of today, Pizza Hut closed about 7,000 locations.
42. Burger King
Among burger lovers, Burger King is usually the very first option. This famous food chain combines great meat, amazing buns, and the right amount of extras.
The year 2019 was pretty much challenging for this famous food chain, as they started closing their locations. They are focusing more on self-order kiosks inside and digital menu boards at the drive-thru. They are expecting to earn $500,000 more per year than the old ones.
41. Steak ’n Shake
Steak’ n Shake is one of the oldest restaurants in the States, founded in 1934. This food chain claims to serve 110 million “steakburgers” and 60 million milkshakes per year.
The Indianapolis-based chain shut down restaurants in waves throughout 2019 and has closed at least one so far in 2020. Executives claim that closing is temporary and that they will reopen under new franchises. One is for sure- they are suffering from lower customer visits and rising costs.
40. Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes
What’s the chain’s name here – Souplantation or Sweet Tomatoes? Is this one restaurant or two? These buffer restaurants are one brand operating by different names. Souplantation operates in Southern California, and Sweet Tomatoes in other parts of the U.S., at least they used to work before 2020 hit the food industry.
In 2020, around 100 locations were closed, just for the management to announce that they won’t be coming back. New standards forbid customers from serving themselves, which directly harms buffets.
39. Bravo/ Brio
Italian restaurant chains Bravo Cucina Italiana and Brio Tuscan Grille were already struggling before 2020 hit hard. This is a tough time for businesses, especially in the food industry. FoodFirst Global Restaurants CEO Steve Layt said in a statement. “We have experienced nothing short of devastating sales declines.”
So far, they have closed around 100 locations. As you read this, there are only 21 still operating. Finally, the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
38. Boston Market
Chicken lovers know very well just how much Boston Market struggled in last years. Only in 2019, Boston Market closed about 10% of its more than 450 rotisserie chicken restaurants. They even closed chains located in Boston. This trend continued in 2020 as well, with five more restaurants closed, from Kansas to New Jersey.
In a letter to employees, CEO Frances Allen pinned the closings on “increased competition, shifting consumer preferences, and rising costs on everything from goods and labor to real estate and utilities.” So far, no one knows for sure what will be Boston Market’s next business step.
Once upon a time, Applebee’s was a real hit. One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is ignoring trends and not evolving. Applebee’s owner Dine Brands admits that this neighborhood bar and grill is a little behind the times. Just in 2018, the number of Applebee’s dropped by 90.
The plan was to close 20 more during 2019 and 2020. They are doing their best not to close but to evolve. Now, they are focusing on off-premises catering, takeout, and delivery services. They are also working on implementing better and healthier menus and serving more ethnic food choices.
36. Bar Louie
Bar Louie has been welcoming customers for 30 years now. They manage to survive the competition by offering food and drinks with a twist, such as bourbon BBQ pork pineapple flatbreads and nacho-crunch craft burgers. Sadly, in late January 2020, Bar Louie filed for bankruptcy.
The closure was terrifying for some because, for example, Colorado employees didn’t get any notice. So far, the company managed to keep over 90 locations running.
35. TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays is an older sit-down restaurant loved by many, usually baby boomers. However, this family food chain is lacking more modern approach and more modern customers. Simply said, they are failing to catch on with younger customers and therefore with younger customers who are more into fresher and innovative foods.
To survive, they did their best to reinvent their menus, but those changes had poor results last year. In 2019, TGI Fridays closed around 30 of its locations, and that number is only going up.
Did you know that Perkins was founded in the 1950s by a couple of former Alaska gold prospectors? Initially founded in Cincinnati, this brand quickly spread across the country.
Perkins was initially called Perkins Pancake House. By the 2010s, the company was facing several financial issues and filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and again in 2019. Perkins’ website says there are currently 317 locations in 32 states and Canada.
If you are a fan of Cosi’s flatbread, you will have to learn to live without their delicious food. It’s getting harder and harder for this food chain to remains open.
At the moment, there are only 11 Cosi’s locations left, down from more than 150 in 2008. After this, Cosi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, for the second time since 2016. Today, they are shifting toward catering.
32. Ruby Tuesday
You may overlook this, but Ruby Tuesday’s locations are shirking with each passing day. Just last year, Ruby Tuesday closed 26 of its restaurants. In 2018, Ruby Tuesday closed 51 of its sites. Closures were very straightforward – a simple notice appeared on the door apologizing for the inconvenience.
Founded in 1972, Ruby Tuesday was a pioneer of fresh ingredients and handcrafted cocktails. We can only hope that they will find a fresh way to remain in business.
Friendly’s was first open in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1935. Five years after that, they added a hamburger to their menu, and a family-friendly restaurant was born. At one time, there were more than 500 Friendly’s. Today, active At one time, there were more than 500 Friendly’s sited are far from 500, with more than 20 sites being closed in last year.
People still miss Fribble milkshakes and heartwarming SuperMelts, but Friendly’s must focus on surviving rather than remaining open for a few customers. Yet, Friendly’s management claims that they are heading toward a bright future.
30. Kona Grill
When it first opened in 1998, Kona Grill was such a refreshment. This restaurant was unique in so many ways. People instantly fall in love with their sauce (40 of them), stir-fry, and sushi.
However, last year chain closed 19 of its locations and filed for bankruptcy. Kona Grills are one of the most expensive restaurants to build; it costs $4 million to construct a single location. So, what was lacking, you may ask? A former CEO claims that the leadership was overambitious with expansion plans, which lead to many unfortunate decisions.
29. Marie Callender’s
When you think about chicken pot pies and banana cream pies, you might probably think of Marie Callender’s cousine. This brand started making the best dessert pies in far 1940s.
By the 1950s, Marie Callender’s started making up to 200 pies per day. The business was growing until 2019 when they filed for bankruptcy. Now they are going forward now with a new owner. Today, only 30 locations are operating.
O’Charley’s fans know that nothing can move your heart, like that sign free pie Wednesdays” and all-you-can-eat-catfish Thursdays. This Southern sit-down restaurant started in Nashville in 1971 and grew to more than 200 locations across 17 states.
In June 2019, eight O’Charley shut down for good, and that trend continued. They have closed six additional locations, including some in Orlando, Florida. So far, in 2020, two locations in Kentucky have gone out of business. O’Charley’s is still struggling, but their management claims that they see significant signs of improvement.
This is an unusual name for a business that actually doesn’t operate on trucks. Well, the original name is even stranger: Freddie Fuddruckers. This famous food chain was founded by Philip J. Romano, who would eventually put his name on a restaurant chain, Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
Today, this famous brand is owned by the Luby’s cafeteria people, and they’ve been closing their company-owned Fuddruckers locations. At the moment, there are around 180company-owned and franchise Fuddruckers around the world.
26. Red Robin
Red Robin is all about the future and future generations. It comes as no surprise that Red Robin is known as a kid-friendly place. Founded 50 years ago in Seattle, this place in no time became family number-one dining place.
Red Robin is heavily dependent on shopping malls, and since they are shutting down, Red Robin also closes its locations. However, they are still hoping to improve.
25. Beefsteak Charlie’s
Beefsteak Charlie’s opened its doors in Manhattan in the year 1910. Yes, that was a really long time ago. The famous restaurant rose to fame for its offer of all-you-can-eat salad and shrimp.
Next to this delicious offer, they appropriate drink offers such as sangria, beer, and wine that goes perfectly with seafood. Next to a great main dish and great drink, their offer included baked potato as well. They also had a great line: you’re gonna get spoiled.
24. Howard Johnson’s
Howard Johnson’s – better known as “Hojo’s” – was one of the most popular and largest restaurant chains during the 1960s and 1970s. The famous chain was known for its unique building designs, recognizable orange roofs, peaks, and weather vanes.
There were around 1,000 Hojo’s nationwide. However, after a few years, the chain couldn’t bear the competition and started falling down financially. Other shad unique dishes, while Hojo’s became too basic.
23. Official All Star Café
The Official All Star Cafe was founded in 1995 and owned by Planet Hollywood. Café grew to a total of 10 locations, which included popular locations, such as Times Square and Walt Disney World.
Official All Star Café was a huge hit from day one. Therefore, Planet Hollywood decided to get several sports icons to invest in the café, including Andre Agassi and Shaq. Planet Hollywood’s goal was to build a safe haven for sports lovers, but the concept didn’t last for too long, and in 2007, the company decided to close all of its chains.
Founded in 1968 in Oregon, the VIP’s was a big hit from day one. From the start, VIP’s was one of the largest restaurant chains to be considered both a coffee shop and a diner. At one moment, VIP’s had more than 53 locations nationwide.
VIP’s tried to replicate Denny’s, where they serve breakfast meals at any time, day or night. This was a big hit because most locations were located along the freeway. However, the diner started going down in the early 1980s and sold 35 of their locations to Denny’s.
21. Horn & Hardart
Horn & Hardart was the first automated fast food joint. Here, you could purchase food already laid out and prepared for you from behind a glass window. All you had to do was grab what you wanted and pay for it.
It sounds like the present, right? It seems that some fantastic ideas are just born in needy times. This was an easy way for customers to get what they need on their way home. However, this automated store closed its doors in 1991.
20. Burger Chef
Some of the biggest chain names were born in the 1950s, including Burger Chef, founded by General Electric in Indianapolis. At one moment, the famous chain had over 1,200 locations nationwide.
Their biggest competition was McDonald’s, but that wasn’t the reason why Burger Chef failed. With time they lost on their food quality, which pushed people away. Eventually, the famous chain sold off to General Foods and then sold off again. After all the changes, it was reborn as Hardee’s.
Isaly’s was founded back in the 19th century. Even today, Isaly’s is known as one of the best restaurants/diners in the States. They are mostly known for inventing the Klondike Bar.
The restaurant is named after the founder, but in advertisements, the word “Isaly’s” was said to stand for “I shall always love you, sweetheart.” Over the years, the company was sold several times, but it couldn’t grow through various business phases and eventually failed.
Lum’s first opened in 1956 in Miami Beach as a normal hot dog stand. With time it turned into something much bigger. As of 1961, they had four locations and were best known for their beer-steamed hot dogs. From there, they grew to 400 locations, which included locations in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Europe.
Sometimes, fast expansions are difficult to handle, and they overdid it in a short period. They weren’t able to sustain their reach and ended up filing for bankruptcy. As of 1982, all of their locations were closed.
17. Steak and Ale
Steak and Ale were founded in 1966 in Dallas, Texas. From its opening, the place was branded as cheap, with a steak to die for. In their try to keep up with the competition, they started lowering their prices with each passing day and eventually offered free meals.
Their plan failed, and their last location was closed in 2008. However, their parent company started offering franchises, so a big comeback is expected.
16. White Tower
White Castle was founded in 1921, then in 1922 came its imitator: White Tower. Moreover, the difference between the two isn’t so significant.
White Tower took just about everything from the original, including architecture, interior, and marketing methods. From 230 locations in the 1950s, they came to zero. Why? There were many legal actions against them. The last store closed its door in 2004.
Schrafft’s started as a simple candy store in New York state in 1898. In no time, they were the place to eat and a fully-fledged restaurant. It was also one of the few restaurants that allow unescorted women at the time.
By 1937, there were 43 locations with Schrafft’s logo on its doors. In the 1980s, the company started going down. With all the competition, they couldn’t find an effective way to survive, and sadly, they decided to close.
14. Red Barn
Red Barn was known for its exterior that looked like… red barns. This way, customers couldn’t mix them for any other brand. In no time, Red Barn became popular and recognizable.
It had over 400 locations, and today there is one more location left in Wisconsin, Racine, and its name was changed from the Red Barn to just The Farm. People loved these restaurants because they were fresh, but it seems that they could survive the harsh competition.
13. Minnie Pearl’s Chicken
Minnie Pearl’s most significant competitor was a famous and powerful KFC. Minnie’s was one of the first brands to compete against KFC. Minnie Pearl was founded by a famous country singer, Minnie Pearl.
Minnie Pearl’s was such a huge success that, at one moment, the brand had over 500 locations nationwide. However, due to the lack of foresight in cohesive menus and recipes, the entire venture started crashing down. KFC won this battle.
12. Gino’s Hamburgers
Gino’s Hamburgers was opened by football hall-of-fame Gino Marchetti in 1957. By the beginning of the ’60s, the chain was trendy and even had the catchy slogan, saying, “Everybody goes to Gino’s.”
Gino’s had over 300 locations, mostly spread across the East Coast. They also opened some locations in the Midwest, but they lived for a short time. Gino’s was sold to Marriott, which then converted all Gino’s locations into Roy Rogers restaurants.
Sambo’s was founded in 1957, and by the late 1970s famous food chain had over 1,100 locations. Sambo’s was knowns for two things: great food and controversial name origin.
The name “Sambo” is a derogatory term, which people find offending and just didn’t want to visit the restaurants anymore. The business went bankrupt, although they tried to rebrand themself. The very last Sambo’s is in Santa Barbara, California.
10. Henry’s Hamburgers
An ice cream company opened Henry’s Hamburgers. In a short period, they expanded to shakes and malts. People loved chocolate shakes and burgers, so it’s no wonder this place became famous.
Henry’s biggest competitor was McDonald’s, but they didn’t have a drive-in and had a much less diverse menu compared to powerful McDonald’s. Eventually, they started closing their stores. Today, only one store is open for business, located in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Sandy’s opened its first location in Central Illinois in 1956. It was established by four businessmen named Gus “Brick” Lundberg, Robert C. Wenger, Paul White, and W. K. Davidson. Initially, the four businessmen wanted to open McDonald’s franchises but eventually decided not to pursue the idea.
Instead, they opened Sandy’s, which they made to imitate their competition. It lasted for two decades before they decided to shut it down. Still, two decades is a pretty good run.
Wimpy is a pioneer when it comes to food joints. Founded in 1934, in Bloomington, Indiana, WImpy has a good start. That same year, a shopfront was established in Chicago, and in 1954, Wimpy’s was introduced to the United Kingdom as “Wimpy bar”.
The name was inspired by Wimpy from the Popeye Cartoon, which was created by E.C. Segar. Sadly, after Wimpy’s owner passed away the business started going down the hill. However, there are still some locations open in the UK.
“Look for the Orange Circles,” and “Buy a bagful,” are the best knowns slogans of this brand. Wetson’s was a mixture of all the fast-food joints put together, which people loved a lot.
At its peak, Wetson’s had over 70 locations. Named after its owner, Herbert Wetanson, the company merged with the hot dog chain Nathan’s Famous in 1975. Not even that could help this brand survive.
Naugles was a Southern California fast-food chain of Mexican restaurants, founded in far 1970. Naugles was founded by former Del Taco partner Nick Naugle, who opened the first Naugles restaurant in Riverside, California.
The chain’s motto was “Prepare food fresh. Serve customers fast. Keep the place clean!” Eventually, they merged with Del Taco. Today, there are only two locations open in the areas of Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach, California. In 2015, a fresh edition of Naugles revived.
5. Casa Bonita
Casa Bonita is a popular chain of Mexican themed restaurants that originated in Oklahoma City. Thi famous chain was founded in 1968m, and from day one they are known for providing both great food and a great time.
They invented the term “eatertainment.” The restaurant enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame after South Park’s episode was titled “Casa Bonita.” Today, there is only one location open in Lakewood, but operated under a different name.
Chi-Chi opened its first store in 1975 and by March of 1995 already had 210 locations. Their first slogan was “a celebration of food,” only to be changed later on to “Life always needs a little salsa.”
The company fell on hard times after a Hepatitis A outbreak at one of their chains, which result in four deaths. It was almost impossible to recover after this. Eventually, their real estate was sold off to Outback Steakhouse, which sold them off to other companies. Some locations are still active today.
3. House of Pies
The Original House of Pies was a chain of restaurants that was founded in 1965. This famous joint offered any kind of pie you could ever imagine.
By 1979, this was one of the most popular restaurants in the States. However, today there are only a few of the Original House of Pies, all located in Houston and Los Angeles.
2. Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse
Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse was founded in 1966, in Warren, New Jersey, by a group of three businessmen. In the 1980s and 1990s, the restaurant started growing rapidly, with new locations nationwide.
However, after this initial boom, the business started going down, and in a short period, over 40 locations were closed. Charlie Brown’s is now owned by another company, and there are still a few locations around today.
Bennigan’s was founded in 1976, in Atlanta, Georgia. At the time, it was known as the ultimate Irish restaurant. The idea for the chain came from Norman Brinker, vice president of Steak and Ale.
From the early days, Bennigan’s suffered from a lack of brand loyalty which is why many locations started shutting down. Currently, there are only around 23 locations left in the US.