10 fading US restaurant chains

These eateries have stumbled over the past decade and may have trouble regaining their footing in a competitive industry.

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864Comments
Jan 8, 2013 5:20PM
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Every week on the Food Channel I see great places on "Diners, Driveins and Dives.  The concepts are so basically simple because they provide great food.  This seems to be a concept wasted on the fast food chains (pizza included) that don't seem to get it.  If I were looking to start my own fast food business, it wouldn't be to buy a franchise, it would be to create a great menu with fresh food and good chefs. Does anyone else but me think Souplantation is overpriced for what you get ?
Jan 8, 2013 5:16PM
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Wonder why everyone's dissing Applebees? The one near me is great -- good food, quick service. One of my favorites, in fact.
Jan 8, 2013 5:14PM
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man the hambger  isen,t wha use to be,and the sub,s arn,t  eather aND THE SALID,S TOO

are a dieing breed also.

Jan 8, 2013 5:13PM
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I  worked at  and  managed  a Bob's Big Boy  in  the  70's & 80's . J.W.  Marriott owned the  " Bob's"

franchise. (bought  the  rights  in  the  60's ). The restuarant chain was  awesome but America's

eating  habits were  changing and coffee shops couldnt compete/adapt. ( i.e. Norm's , Sambos ,

Friendlys , Jo-jo's etc. ) Fast food  invariably put  the  final  nail in the coffin regarding  profit margin. In fact, fast food joints  were to  coffee shops  as  the internet is to  current brick n mortar

 establishments. Sad ,  but  things  change.

Jan 8, 2013 5:12PM
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Poor people, losing their jobs. Yay. Another four years of this...
Jan 8, 2013 5:12PM
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I DO NOT CARE TO SEE ANY RESTAURANT OR BUSINESS GO UNDER.JOBS ARE LOSS.HOPEFULLY,THOSE BUSINESSES IN TROUBLE CAN TURN THINGS AROUND.
Jan 8, 2013 5:10PM
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I agree, Applebees should be on this list---the food has gone down hill since they opened.  Also on my list of crummy restaurants should be Jimmy John's (their sandwiches suck I don't care if they do deliver fast).  The problem I see with most restaurants is when they open, they put their best foot forward and make outstanding food. But as time goes on, the quality slips and pretty soon you find yourself saying, "I could make better at home."

Jan 8, 2013 5:07PM
Jan 8, 2013 5:01PM
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Hands down the best Big Boy in all of the land is in Bismarck, ND. It's nothing like the rest of them. They're known for their pizza burgers (flying style) and fries with gravy. I don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon. Mmm, could go for some of that now! Too bad I live so far away!
Jan 8, 2013 4:57PM
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i like blimpy. maybe they can still do the kiosk thing?
Jan 8, 2013 4:55PM
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During my time in the military, Tony Roma's was a welcome sight in overseas locations, like London and Japan, where American style ribs are not on the menu at the local eateries.
Jan 8, 2013 4:54PM
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Locally owned, non-franchise places aren't immune to poor service or food quality, sadly. I frequent lots of mom-and-pops in my area, and while many are great, there are some duds out there. Clearly, running a food-service business, at any level, is challenging- I think it'd be tricky to keep quality high at the right price point to keep customers flowing in.  
This makes it really admirable when a huge franchise with tons of branches can keep up the quality. I have never been disappointed by a Chickfila, Five Guys, Lenny's Subs, Papa John's, Zaxby's, Don Pablo's (sad to see them on the list), O'Charley's,  or Salsarita's. I can't vouch for them being particularly organic- or green-minded, but they always leave me satisfied- being able to provide that consistency,over years of trying locations all over the southeast, is pretty awesome. If only some of that managing prowess could be applied toward making meals that taste as good but with less unhealthy fat and additives and pesticides, etc.
Jan 8, 2013 4:47PM
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In some US city many moons ago, a young mother would drive past a Big Boy restaurant on the way to taking her little kid to the pediatrician. When Little Kid would see that Big Boy sign, Little Kid would start screaming, knowing that a shot/injection was imminent...

 

That Little Kid was me.

Jan 8, 2013 4:46PM
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TCBY; that's what happens when you try to expand. Should have stuck with their niche. Enjoyed Bennigan's for years. Enjoyed a few others on the list also. Odds are that once a place decides it's time to go national and expand, that it will eventually collapse; especially when business' are publicly traded. The paper value of the stock outstanding nearly always drawfs the actual value of the company. Just a house of cards waiting for someone big enough to pull the foundation out.
Jan 8, 2013 4:24PM
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No suprises here. Both TCBY and Tony Romas have in the past decade closed very lucrative locations, and have not reopened. The others have no locations in UT (laugh, but its an emerging market for foodies).
Jan 8, 2013 4:21PM
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Dining out is a social experince but restaurants have forgotten that. I have dined at most of the restaurants in this article. At least those with a bar. But then, smoking, if only at the bar, was outlawed. So much for my cocktail hour at the bar.

 

Then, the prices started shooting up. Probabye because without allowing smoking at the bar, liquor sales probably dumped. So, the cocktail prices doubled. So much for drinking in a restaurant bar.

And, a hamburger goes to $10 or $12. You must be kidding.

 

Then we found out why we thought restaurant food tasted so good. Because it is LOADED with ridiculous amounts of salt, fat and calories. Eating out....not a healthy habit.

 

Then there is the service, most of which is pathetic. And yet, the lousiest waiter of waitress thinks they should get a 20 or 25% tip.. We are all working for less and we earn more when our work product is exceptional. 15% is my standard for good service. 20% for exceptional service. Most of the time I struggle with 15% because service is barely acceptable on average.

 

Then Ben Bernanke came along and reduced the income of retired people living on interest income to zero and further undermined the restaurant and travel business for the population most able to spend on food and travel.

 

Save your money, Save your health. Eat tastier, higher quality food. Light a candle, turn on the music you like at a volume the allows converssation. Have a cocktail , a cigarette and good dinner at home and watch a movie on Netflix.

Jan 8, 2013 4:18PM
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Ponderosa was so awesome!! It was where I learned my love for ribeyes and baked potatoes with sour cream; it was also the place I discovered chick peas. I live in New Jersey and there hasn't been a Ponderosa here in about 15 years or more; whoever still has one left is lucky!
Jan 8, 2013 4:18PM
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An illegal alien, a Muslim, a black guy, a communist, walk into Bennigan's.  The hostess says,

>
>
>
>
>
>
>

"What'll it be Mr. President, a booth, or a table"?

Jan 8, 2013 4:18PM
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I was hoping Obama and Biden would have made the list, oh wait, that's right, they have the few people that pay taxes in chains,  and we are disappearing, my bad.

Jan 8, 2013 4:17PM
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We don't have Bigboys, but we have In-N-Out. Old fashion none of this other crap on the menu.
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