The 15 Biggest Failed Restaurant Chains

For every immensely successful restaurant chain, like Applebee’s or T.G.I. Friday’s, there are the ones that didn’t make it.

For one reason or another, plenty of once-major restaurant chains fall off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again.

Here are 15 chains that, for one reason or another, are no longer with us.

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44 thoughts on “The 15 Biggest Failed Restaurant Chains”

    1. We still have a Howard Johnson’s here in Arlington Texas as well. Right next door to Six Flags over Texas. The best burger you ever ate at Griff’s. One name i was surprised to not see was Kip’s Big Boy Restaurant. But they are still in Ky. and Ca. As of this writing.


    Used to eat lunch there a lot. Also, dinner was great. Loved those Chicken Croquet s. They had great ice cream for after the ball games.

  2. jo Scarborough

    Too bad, so many folks put their hearts and souls into these restaurants, Then others opened with copy=cat deals and therefore lots of them couldn’t stand the heat in the kitchen and simply gave up, sold out etc. Many dreams, hopes and cash flow was lost along with the broken hearts. Alas that’s life in the business world, you gotta be strong and hard as nails to make it, make deals that break the bank , know when to hold em and know when to fold up your tent and go home, if you still have one. josie

  3. no, burger chef lost out to mcdonalds becaue of freemason, mk ultra and mkdelta…your highly successful and stay highly successful because of who is “connected” and who follows the “nwo” agenda….

    1. The Freemasons? MK Ultra? Why not the Illuminati? Does RB NG mean you are “ribbing” us or do you really believe what you wrote? About 50 years or so ago, I would’ve asked what you were on and could I have some. Well, if that was supposed to be funny, I got a little laugh out of it. Thanks for that.

  4. Very nostalgic memories of going to Howard Johnson restaurants with my mother as a child. I loved the fried clam plate with a dessert. Very pleasant and easy going atmosphere. I really miss those days! Their Inn is still a favorite – would rather stay there than the up scale hotels and motels I’ve used, with it’s contemporary, “Jetson”-like, orange, grey and white decor/furnishings and friendly, laid back staff.

    1. Met my future wife at a Burger Chef in Dothan, Al in 1970. Fortunately, our franchise lasted longer than theirs. 49 years in April.

  5. Joseph M Baroody

    I worked for my uncle and aunt in their franchise Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in New Hampshire in the spring and Summer’s of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s during my high school summer vacations . Great memories and times at the HoJo providing food and ice cream to our customers. When you think of Howard Johnson’s it is like apple pie and baseball true American fare. Unfortunately a time that has passed.

  6. There was a Sambo’s near me in 1975 and we loved to go there with a quarter in our pocket and it would pay for 2 coffees with a 25% tip.

  7. I worked at Gino’S. The chicken was cooked by a man named Truray ( spelling ?) it was the best chicken! That is where I started drinking coffee. Good memories! The chicken was better than KFC TODAY! Because Gino’s was at that time KFC chicken! Sure miss GINO’S. BETTY

  8. I can’t believe Quincy’s Restaurant isn’t listed. Very popular in the Southeast. One of the best buffet’s EVER. But, their trademark item was their “big fat yeast roll”!! No other roll, EVER better!!

  9. The Gino Giant was a good burger, I remember Fri. Nights to go have a good time. This receipe topped on the burger was the best taste ever, even though I’m 61yrs. we still talk about The Gino Giant Burger. So sadly missed.

  10. Met my future wife at a Burger Chef in Dothan, Al in 1970. Fortunately, our franchise lasted longer than theirs. 49 years in April.

  11. Chi-Chi’s was a favorite of mine. Another I want to comment on is Beefsteak Charlie’s. I moved to Maryland in 1982, and I took my parents out to that restaurant. My Dad was soooo happy they served beer. That was my one and only time in there, because it closed up soon after that.

  12. Growing up in Baltimore Ginos was great, but the another Colt on the team was first. Alan Ameche opened the first fast food sports fast food burger joint. Ginos had the Giant , Ameches had the Powerhouse

  13. Anne D'Alberto

    My favorite chain was ARTHUR TREACHER’S fish (cod} sandwich !! Howard Johnson’s clam roll was also a favorite !!

  14. Valerie Thomassie

    i miss Chi Chis. i hated the salsa when i first tried it and came to love it so much i wasn’t able to tolerate any other. used an internet copy cat recipe to make it myself when the local restaurant closed. the stuff in the stores with the Chi Chis name it horrible. tried it night before last.

  15. I don’t know if this was unique to the Burger Chef’s in the Chicago (south suburban) area, but while I thought there burgers were cool and the fact that (in the mid 1970’s) you got your food as quickly as you did 10 years earlier at B.K. (they had a slogan of “60 second service” back in the 60’s but gave it up as they expanded and finding teens who moved faster than turtles became difficult in the 70’s) what I didn’t care for was the thing that made it fast was you had to build it yourself – all the toppings were on an island in the middle of the store. And usually poorly stocked. But tasty as a BK flame broiled for about 2/3rds the price….

  16. Walter Wilkinson

    Anyone from the Tidewater area of Virginia will remember Milton’s Pizza in the 1980’s. Would go there after softball games for pizza and beer. Great pizza!


    Reading ‘factiods’ about Burger Chef; as a former Manager I was advised that the inventor of the “Sani-Serv” instant milkshake machine was the actual founder of Burger Chef.

  18. Ponderosa – remember the steak flame broiled right in front of your eyes. The big baked potato with butter and the salad bar right in the middle of the dinning room. O to be 12 again and be there with my mother and father.

  19. When my husband and I were dating we went to Howard Johnsons for grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup a lot. After we were married we went on Friday nights for fish. Always had the same waitress.