Ground Round was well known in the 1980s for its children's parties and for passing out whole peanuts where diners were encouraged to throw the shells on the floor. The newest incarnation of Ground Round doesn't support such behavior and markets to the adult dining and cocktails crowd, although families are still welcome (a mascot called the Ground Round Hound, an anthropomorphic hound dog, appears on the kids' menu).
Ground Round was also famous for their pay what you weigh (a penny per pound) and their free popcorn. At one time in the early 1980s there were over 300 locations. Overselling by parent co. Howard Johnson's Inc. led to the near collapse of the franchise in the late 1980s. A fire at the Yonkers, New York location, in which 1 patron and another employee were killed and left several others severely injured ended the peanut shell atmosphere and cost the parent company much in a negligence suit, that was at the time the highest award by a New York State jury for punitive damages. The Ground Round in York, Pennsylvania also burnt down.
In the early 2000s a group of franchisees joined together in order to buy out the parent company, now Ground Round Inc. and started the independent owners collaborative. To date these books are not public but industry analysts say "The Round" has a low chance of long term survival in a saturated market.
With fewer than 50 franchises there is concern that the chain may be bought out as locations become overwhelmed by similar casual dining establishments owned by larger conglomerates.
The business unit spread-out over 19 states found it difficult to maintain collective buying power over like chains such as TGI Fridays nationally, Marie Callender's in the West, and several players in the South and Southeast. On Saturday July 26, the Needham, Massachusetts, location at first Street and Highland Ave closed it's doors due in part to the high cost of energy and the recent downturn in the economy.