15 Restaurant Franchises That Immediately Tanked
100 Comments


• What restaurant franchise closed after
causing the biggest Hepatitis-A outbreak in American history? What doomed hamburger chain invented a version
of the Happy Meal six years before McDonald’s? Some of these were successful for a while,
and some bombed from the start, but here are 15 restaurants that just absolutely tanked. 15 –Howard Johnson’s
• At one point, Howard Johnson’s restaurants were serving more American families than anyone
outside of the U.S. Army. • The distinct orange roof was as much as
signature look as McDonald’s golden arches, but several changes in ownership slowly killed
the company, which also operated a chain of hotels under the same name. • When Marriott divested from the fast food
industry, the restaurants were left to die slowly. The final one closed in October of 2017. 14 –Sambo’s
• As the story goes, Sambo’s was named using bits of its founders’ names – Sam
Battistone and Newell Bohnett. • Supposedly, the connection to the racist
children’s book “Little Black Sambo” was coincidental… despite them decorating
the restaurants WITH SCENES FROM THE BOOK. • Still, the chain became hugely successful,
operating over eleven-hundred stores at its peak. • The chain collapsed in the 1980s, and
sold most of its locations to Denny’s and other chains. Today, there is only one location remaining
in Santa Barbara, California. 13 –Kenny Rogers Roasters
• Country singer Kenny Rogers opened his infamous line of rotisserie chicken restaurants
in 1991, grew to over 400 locations, went bankrupt, and closed all but one by 1998. • It is now best remembered as being a plot
device in a pretty good episode of Seinfeld. • But believe it or not, Kenny Rogers Roasters,
after a couple of ownership changes, is a hugely-successful and fast-growing chain…
in Asia. • There are over 150 locations across Southeast
Asia, including one in the Beijing Capital International Airport. 12 –Lum’s
• It might not be hard to imagine how a restaurant based around hot dogs would go
out of business. • But Lum’s steamed their hot dogs in
BEER, so they did okay for a while there. • Unfortunately, the owners of the successful
Florida franchise extended themselves too far, buying the Caesars Palace Casino on the
Las Vegas Strip in 1969, and selling the Lum’shot dog franchises. • The franchise – and its new owners – were
bankrupt by 1982. 11 –Chi-Chi’s
• When Chi-Chi’s opened in the American Midwest in the 1970s, it enjoyed incredible
success as one of the only Mexican-themed chain restaurants in the region. • But by 2003, the chain had gained competition,
and lost a lot of originality. • And then they caused the largest Hepatitis-A
outbreak in American history at a restaurant in Pittsburgh, infecting 660 people and killing
4 with contaminated green onions. • Today, Chi-Chi’s only exists as a brand
of salsa sold by Hormel. And nine locations in Belgium, for some reason. 10 –Childs
• Childs is one of the first casual dining chains in the United States, ever. • It brought restaurant-style dining – which
was once a uniquely high-class – at prices normal people could afford. It was one of the first chains to maintain
a consistent look between branches for branding recognition. • Childs peaked in the 1920s and 1930s,
but began to tank after owner William Childs began to shift the menu to his own vegetarian
preferences. • In 1961, it was bought and phased out
by the Riese Organization, owners of T.G.I. Fridays, Applebees, and Dunkin’ Donuts. 9 –Steak and Ale
• Norman Brinker is the man behind Jack-in-the-Box and Chili’s. But he’s also the man behind the far less-successful
Steak and Ale. • Steak and Ale was one of the first restaurants
to feature a self-serve salad bar, and in 1966, it served an 8-ounce steak for a $1.95. • But Steak and Ale signalled a boom in
the fast-casual style of dining, and it couldn’t keep up with its new competition. • Its last 50 locations closed in 2009,
but the owners of Bennigans have bought the rights to the chain, and are planning to revive
it. 8 –Gino’s Hamburgers
• Gino’s Hamburgers was opened by NFL Hall-of-Famer Gino Marchetti, and became one
of the first fast-food restaurants to use sports as a major selling point in 1957. • The chain did well, until it was bought
by Roy Rogers in 1982, which converted most of the locations… and then tanked THOSE
locations as well. • The chain was revived in 2010, and now
operates two locations in Pennsylvania under the name “Gino’s Burgers and Chicken.” 7 –Roy Rogers
• Unlike many of these franchises, Roy Rogers actually somewhat survived its nosedive. But in 1990, the franchise operated 648 locations. Today it barely has 50. • Most of the other 600 locations were sold
to Burger King, Wendy’s, and Boston Market. Others were converted to Hardee’s. • The chain may be making a comeback, though,
as 8 East Coast franchises opened in 2015 and 2016 alone. 6 –Burger Chef
• In a lot of ways, Burger Chef was a better McDonald’s. The chain pioneered a new technology that
could cook burgers faster than anyone: 800 per hour. • They even pioneered the idea of a “Fun
Meal” in 1973 – a kid-sized meal with a small burger, fries, dessert, drink, and
toy. McDonald’s “invented” the Happy Meal
six years later. • The company behind Burger Chef optimistically
opened over A THOUSAND locations across the United States between 1958 and 1972. • But that overexpansion did them in as
a company, and the whole operation was sold to Hardee’s and phased out in 1981. 5 –Minnie Pearl’s Chicken
• Minnie Pearl’s Chicken came up in the 1960s as a competitor – or imitator – to
newly-established chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, and unlike KFC, it had the name of a famous
country starlet attached to it. • The company behind the chain started selling
franchises faster than they could open them. They had sold 300 stores, but only opened
five. • At that point, they took their stock public,
and announced two NEW franchise ideas – one chain named after a gospel singer, and Minnie
Pearl’s Roast Beef. • Soon, the company’s practice of expand
first, run a business later, caught up with it. Not only were individual businesses not especially
successful, but they were artificially inflating stock prices by misreporting franchises fees
for locations that never opened. • They became the subject of a federal fraud
investigation, and that was the end of Minnie Pearl’s Chicken. 4 –G.D. Ritzy’s
• G.D. Ritzy’s was a Columbus, Ohio-based chain of 50’s diner-themed burger joints. • The restaurants grew out of a management
dispute with a number of local Wendy’s franchisees, who eventually split and opened their own
chain together. • The first location opened in 1980, but
all the local restaurants were closed by 1991, leaving only three operating franchises – in
West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky. • Plans are currently in motion to re-open
a Ritzy’s in Columbus at the site of a former used car lot. 3 –Shrimp Boats
• For some reason, this Southeastern US seafood chain went by two names: The Shrimp
Boat – that’s BOAT, singular; and Shrimp Boats – that’s BOATS, plural. • Adding the “S” was apparently an attempt
at re-branding… but why? • And the history of this franchise is even
more confusing than that. Most of the franchises were independently
owned, and simply re-branded to become Shrimp Boats, which means this was barely a chain
at all. • It was more like just a bunch of seafood
restaurants that happened to share a name. Five of them still exist, and the only thing
they seem to share in common is the sign. 2 –White Tower
• White Tower was a blatant rip-off of White Castle, developed after its creators investigated
the White Castle franchise, and then hired one of its operators. They even designed the restaurant with the
twin castle towers. • Despite the obvious infringement, White
Tower was fairly successful, expanding even during the Great Depression and eventually
opening 230 locations. • Eventually, White Castle won a court ruling
against their blatant copycats, forcing them to change their design. The company eventually imploded, and now the
last White Tower sits alone in Toledo, Ohio. 1 –All-Star Cafe
• At most, there were only ever 10 locations of the “Official” All-Star Café. But you’d never know it, because there was
an ALL-OUT BLITZ of advertising about it in the 1990s. • It was basically a Planet Hollywood or
Hard Rock Café, but for sports. Shaq, Ken Griffey Junior, Wayne Gretzky, and
Joe Montana all invested in it and advertised for it. • But despite the star power behind it,
the All-Star Café opened in 1995, and closed its final location in 2007, for a total of
12 years in business.

100 thoughts on “15 Restaurant Franchises That Immediately Tanked

  1. I like racist restaurants. It means I can eat in peace instead of listening to Shaniqua and LaQuon's arguing over who's paying for the used tires on their broke down Cadillac.

  2. Ok. Look at the title of the video and listen to the narrative of the first subject (Howard Johnson's) and how it died slowly. Clickbaitin' motherfucking listening to himself talk.

  3. 01:03 That book is the story of a brave child overcoming adversity and triumphing over bullies. I don't see how it is racist.

  4. Yeah. Should probably mention that Little Black Sambo was not African. He was a Hindu. Tigers live in India, not Africa.

  5. Isaly's Delicatessen, Hobo Shack, the Ground Round, Arthur Treacher's Fish N Chips, DQ Sizzler. . . . . now, here in Pittsburgh, the Kentucky Fried Chicken merged with Taco Bell and the drive thru menu's are a nightmare. . . Also, there was a chain back in the 1960's that sold soup and sandwiches named after famous people, like a fish sandwich was named after swimmer actress Esther Williams. . . I think it was called Hollywood Bowl. . . not sure.

  6. Very informative vid. But shouldn't the title be changed to 'eventually' rather than 'immediately' ? Just saying. 🙄

  7. A ton of USA restaurants come out to Australia trying to clean up opening more chains than are in all of the USA. They all end up closing and the franchisees lose their money. Starbucks had to close most of its stores in Melbourne due to their being a strong coffee culture. Pie Face opened way too many stores. Burger King got into a lawsuit. Krispy Kreme expanded too fast. KFC did its research and is till here today along with McDonalds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMQrtLRjOV0

  8. What part of "Longtime Nationwide roadside staple 'Howard Johnson's' with it's recognizable roofs and traveller-friendly meals" is the "Immediately Tanked" part?

    I stopped watching as soon as I saw #15 was HoJo's. The creator obviously doesn't understand the difference between "Going out of business because of changes in the marketplace over time" and "Immediately Tanked".

  9. To the folks who put this video together. Please, a little research next time. The correct pronunciation of Lums is LUMS. Rhymes with "hums", not "looms".

  10. Where is "Naugles" in this vid? Stupid Del Taco bought them out…. (and yes I know Christian Ziebarth acquired the trademark brand and re-opened a couple restaurants. I've been to their test kitchen in Fountain Valley, CA a few times….damn good!)

  11. U wrote “failed immediately” in your title and then said “some were successful for a long time before closing” like 10 seconds into the video lol

  12. I remember a restaurant called the velvet turtle. most where located in California. went defunct around 1991-1992.

  13. That Sambo’s critique was kind of lame, it’s very conceivable that the name came first, And making use of the book illustrations was an afterthought.

  14. mmm Rogers Roasters, I miss that place. Ours became a Schlotzky's and that failed, now the building is a Noodles & Company.

  15. How in dee Fk do you think you can buy And maintain a Casiono Hotel in Fk Vegas🤣😂🤣🤣.. bruh you run a Fk hot dog restaurant franchise not a eternal life solution sales International operation. Fk dummies

  16. I live in Toledo, that White Tower on Jefferson is long gone, 1929-2004. It was for sale for $1 in 2008, but the buyer had to move it. It sold together with another "White Tower" 24 hr. diner 2 blocks from me that opened in the 1940's and is still open. Although it wasn't part of the original chain, it still serves iconic menu items like the butterburger.

  17. Yeah a lot of these videos are full of excessive hype and not a lot of research. "Immediately Tanked' after decades of being in business. Their early vids were worth watching, but no more it seems. Oh well. Not going to waste my time with Planet Dolan anymore.

  18. you don't know why chichi's is still open in Belgium? me neither, I ate 2-3 times there, it's just shitty "Mexican style" food. I don't know anybody who like their food. it's just pure crap.

  19. Sambo's sold the rest of the chain to Denny's do anybody find that coincidentally funny I mean Denny's will buy the rest of them carry on tradition

  20. I stayed at a Howard Johnson motel in Williams, AZ last month. I think it's Wyndham that is actually operating the place. Anyway, it was good, clean, comfortable. HoJo restaurants used to have the franchise on the New Jersey Turnpike. I think it was also on the Pennsylvania Tpk and the NYState Thruway. Their hot dogs were "Frankfurts" and their hamburgers were "Hamburgs".

  21. Actually sambo was an Indian not African American.. even if he was who the hell cares? how is it racist? I think the story about the two little white kids they come across the witch's House made out of cookies, and they get cooked in an oven as a little worse. Sambo is clever and defeated the tiger. Wow really racist. Besides that sambos had a pretty decent breakfast. The other unfortunate black guys are Amos and Andy. They're brilliant comedians, yet their work is censored and never shown. But of course 3 stupid white guys going around poking each other in the nose that's fine. Such a shame.

  22. I'm old enough to remember Burger Chefs. I remember there were no parking spaces in a Burger Chef parking lot once. We parked in a McDonald's parking lot and walked to Burger Chef. It was the 70s. I was a kid who thought McDonald's was a bad copy of Burger Chef. It just goes to show you, being better does not mean it will live longer. I also remember my entire family favoring Howard Johnson's every single time that was an option over going anywhere else.

  23. I miss G.D. Ritzy's. I live in Illinois and we had one here in Champaign and I worked there back when I was in high school from '92-'94/95. The ended up being Daddy-O's. Hey, he should've had Daddy- O's on the list!!!

  24. HOPEFULLY!!!!!!!!!McDonald's will follow the same fate…. I work at McDonolds Nd let's just SAY F.U.C.K this PICE OF S.H.I.T. place…….have a nice day hope you enjoy your PICE OF SHIT. MEAL😁

  25. I don't think it was a chain but there's also Radar's in Scotland. It was an awesome underground pub and burger joint on Belmont street in Aberdeen, with booths and decorated with old metal signs that had been collected. Sadly it closed before I was born so I never got to go to it. I don't think it tanked immediately but it is gone now. 🙁 Jimmy Chungs Chinese restaurant and takeaway was also a great place that's gone now.

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