These Restaurant Chains Are on the Verge of Disappearing Completely
It’s no secret that the restaurant business has been failing in recent years. It's partly because there are too many choices, particularly when it comes to fast food. Labor shortages and overhead costs have also added to the trouble. Though total restaurant sales will hit $899 billion in 2020, according to the National Restaurant Association, some restaurants are still struggling to bounce back. Here's a list of restaurants that are in serious danger of closing down completely.
When Applebee's first opened in 1980, it was the hot spot for dining. However, over the years, the chain has declined. In the past few years, Applebee's has closed over 120 locations, dropping down to around 1,800 physical restaurants.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill
A restaurant chain owned by Bloomin' Brands, Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded back in 1986 in Houston, Texas. The family-style Italian restaurant quickly became a huge success and branched out all over the country with hundreds of national and international locations.
Sbarro has been around for over 20 years, but its once-huge success has declined over time. Part of this is due to the quality of its pizza, which is not made to order. The chain is also millions of dollars in debt.
When it first opened in 1972, Ruby Tuesday became known for its fresh ingredients and handcrafted cocktails. However, in recent years, the restaurant chain has been on a major decline when it comes to dine-in customers.
Krystal is a Southern restaurant with menu offerings similar to White Castle. The fast food chain currently has 360 locations but has closed several in recent years and is experiencing financial trouble.
Bar Louie is known as a popular happy hour spot with good food and drinks. However, the restaurant chain has been going into debt and quietly having to close locations due to expanding too quickly.
Houlihan’s has also been another popular happy hour spot over the years. However, it’s been on a major decline due to its inability to attract new customers, namely millennials.
In the age of the #MeToo movement, it's really no wonder that Hooters would be facing challenges. The restaurant's notorious uniform of a tight shirt and shorts for waitresses and its hiring practices based on appearance have been highly offensive to consumers.
At its peak in the 1990s, Boston Market had over 1,100 locations. Today, it has fewer than 400 locations. Unfortunately, the chain hasn’t updated its menu or look — which is less appealing to younger customers — very much.
Papa John’s has gone downhill in recent years, not because of the quality of its pizza but because of controversy with its founder, John Schnatter. In 2018, Papa John’s lost its major sponsorship with the NFL after Schnatter blamed national anthem protests from players for lagging sales. He later was reported to have used a racial slur during a conference call.
Golden Corral was a huge success following its launch in the early 1970s. In fact, buffets were once a big deal altogether. However, they have all declined in recent years due to the fact that younger generations want high-quality food instead of huge amounts of unhealthy food.
Ponderosa was once a popular steakhouse in the South that offered customers hearty meals with "the spirit of the Old West and honest-to-goodness value," according to the restaurant's website. However, the 2008 recession greatly hurt the business, and it seems it hasn't been able to recover.
Steak 'n Shake
Steak ‘n Shake has been in the restaurant game since 1934. The 24/7 diner had great initial success and was able to expand throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East. However, sales have declined rapidly in recent years.
Joe’s Crab Shack
Fewer than 10 years ago, Joe's Crab Shack had almost 140 locations across the country. However, now there are only around 60 locations still operating. In 2016, the chain reported an operating loss of $16.6 million. In 2017, Joe's Crab Shack filed for bankruptcy and closed 41 restaurants without giving employees notice.
Noodles & Company
Noodles & Company has been in trouble, slowly closing underperforming locations behind the scenes. In 2017, the chain shut down 55 locations, and the next year, 10 more restaurants went out of business.
Old Country Buffet
Launched in 1983, Old Country Buffet (and its sister restaurants Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet and Ryan's) was highly popular. Under parent company Ovation Brands, the chain once had over 700 locations nationwide.
The Cheesecake Factory
When The Cheesecake Factory popped up on the scene in 1972, it was first a bakery and not a restaurant. In 1978, the transition was made to offer both delicious entrees and tasty desserts — and the rest was history.
Popular restaurant chain TGI Fridays suffered a major profit loss in 2019 after closing dozens of locations in recent years. The chain has seen an 11.3% decrease in overall sales and a 9.1% decrease in customer traffic.
Declining sales and rising labor costs have really hit Red Robin hard. The chain ended 2018 with a $10.6 million loss and has had to close multiple locations in recent years, leaving 562 locations nationwide.
Friendly’s was always a nice family restaurant with diner-style food options and multiple ice cream creations. At one point, there were over 500 locations in the United States. However, sales have declined in recent years due to market trends, which led to the closing of multiple locations.
Another struggling restaurant is Mexican eatery Qdoba. Though the chain was highly successful after its launch in 1995, it has struggled to make real profits in the past few years.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings has always been a great place to get some wings and drinks while watching sports with buddies. However, the company has had to raise its prices by 10% due to the rising costs of food. That hasn’t sat well with customers.
Checkers and Rally’s
Checkers and Rally’s actually have a loyal customer base that loves the seasoned fries and other menu options. However, the restaurants have still had to close dozens of locations in recent years. It’s partly due to a sales slump caused by fewer people dining out, which is consistent across the entire restaurant industry.
Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box is severely behind the beat when it comes to other fast-food competitors like McDonald’s and Burger King. According to a report released by the company, hundreds of the chain’s locations across the country have had negative operating income in recent years.
Singer and actor Roy Rogers first started his own chain of burger restaurants in the late 1960s. By the 1990s, the chain had over 600 locations throughout the country.
At its launch in 1990, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill was at the top of the Mexican-food chain with over 300 locations. Its use of fresh ingredients and the special "Salsa Baja" at the restaurants’ salsa bars attracted many customers all over the country and even internationally.
Burger restaurant brand Fuddruckers began in Houston in the late 1970s. The chain proclaimed that it had "the world’s greatest hamburgers," and its popularity with customers seemed to back that up. Sadly, not even the great food could help when hard times came.
O’Charley’s is known for its Southern eats and charm and mainly takes root in the South and Midwest. Sales have been declining due to the food quality (or lack thereof) as well as the restaurant’s failure to truly stand out in the midst of so many other competitors.
Quiznos was once a popular spot to get tasty subs after its launch in 1981. In fact, this restaurant chain and Subway were in fierce competition with each other for a long time.
Bojangles’ restaurants were once very popular throughout the country. Half of the chicken-and-biscuit restaurants are located in North Carolina and South Carolina, where Bojangles’ is still beloved. Everywhere else? Not so much.
The so-called “International House of Pancakes” has been a little slice of commodified Americana since it first opened in 1958. However, as Americans become more health conscious, the market for carb-heavy breakfasts has dwindled — and IHOP has faced the consequences.
Everything is bigger in Texas — well, everything except Luby’s profits. Known for deep-fat frying anything under the sun, Luby’s used to be on every corner of Texas’ towns and cities, in the same way Dunkin’ covers New England.
Taco Bell may tell its customers to “Live Más,” but, in the wake of COVID-19 and a trend toward Americans eating healthier foods, the chain may need to do some serious recalibrating if it wants to stick around. This one may come as a shock, because, much like McDonald’s, Taco Bell is more than an affordable, Crunchwrap Supreme-making goldmine — it’s a pop culture symbol.
While Subway may not be struggling as much as competitor Quiznos, it’s still not an easy path forward for the sandwich chain. In the early 2000s, Subway marketed itself as the healthy fast food option thanks to its popular “Eat Fresh” campaign. However, Americans are wising up to the fact that Subway isn’t as healthy as it claims. (Yoga mat-Breadgate, anyone?)
If you’ve ever craved a quick-and-easy pot pie, you’ve probably found yourself in the frozen food section of your local grocery store, buying a Marie Callender product. What you might not know is that Marie was a real person.