Over the years, America has witnessed several great restaurant chains come and go. From Pumper to Chi-Chi and Horn & Hardart, many iconic restaurants of the past no longer exist. The All-Star Cafe, one with memories for many 80s and 90s people, is one of them.
The All-Star Cafe was a chain of sports-themed restaurants and bars. It featured over-the-top decor, sports memorabilia galore, booths like baseball globes, and endless TV screens for sports streams.
Planet Hollywood was behind the concept and recruited big names to invest in their project. It was a restaurant chain backed by some of the biggest industry names: for instance, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Shaquille O Neal, Ken Griffey, Jr., Andre Agassi, and Monica Seles.
So what happened to this place of stadium-style cuisines with professional merchandise and souvenirs? Here is a peek into the gone-but-never-forgetting All-Star Cafe!
The Origin & Rise of All-Star Cafe
It all started at Times Square in New York City on December 18, 1995. Planet Hollywood came up with its plan for the first unique sport-themed restaurant. Andre Agassi came forward with his five athletes to back this project and make it a hit. They made sure that the restaurant featured not only quality food but an atmosphere for quality time. If you were the 80s and 90s youngster in New York City, you would know that it was a hub for match streams.
Soon, the restaurant expanded. Two more locations opened the other year: one in Cancun and another at the Showcase Mall on the Las Vegas Strip. All the locations of this restaurant were at hot tourist hubs!
By September 25, 1997, Planet Hollywood and All-Star Cafe went on a joint venture as an Official All-Star Hotel. An official All-Star Cafe also opened at the Wide World Sports Complex of Disney in 1997.
While the restaurant had a buzz around for a great while, its popularity started fading out soon. Planet Hollywood was also undergoing restructuring. Hence, by December 1998, the chain was up for sale. The plans for a location in Chicago got canceled too.
From 1997 to 2001, Official All-Star Cafe locations faced a slow but steady decline. They were operated alongside Planet Movies by AMC entertainment complexes at select locations in the United States. With a total of ten prominent branches, all closed down one after one. The first was in 1999, and the last became defunct in 2007. The company made no more franchises.
The Fall of All-Star Cafe; Why Did it Happen?
With the parent company’s first bankruptcy filing of October 11, 1999, one location was closed. It left behind nine corporate locations. In February 2000, after exiting bankruptcy, Disney offered to purchase the location at its sports complex. The last Official All-Star Cafe, the one at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, closed on September 23, 2007.
There were many reasons for this fall. The Original All-Star Cafe locations were all in popular vacation areas. To name a few, they were at the Las Vegas Strip, Times Square in New York City, and Walt Disney World. While this was ideal for attracting tourists looking for a one-of-a-kind dining experience, the location made it difficult for the restaurant to build any returning customer base.
Most people would come in for a meal while visiting the area and then never return. Not exactly conducive to business, right?
Another reason diners did not return was that there was nothing new to see on the second, third, or fourth visit. In other words, Official All-Star Cafe positioned itself as a “one-and-done” destination, something to be checked off a must-see list. For a return, there wasn’t much effort by the company.
The Hotel Venture
The Official All-Star Hotel was a collaboration between Planet Hollywood International (20%), Vornado Realty Trust (40%), and Hotel Properties, Limited (40 percent).
They formed this on September 24, 1997. The joint venture would revamp the Hotel Pennsylvania over two years. However, the plans were halted by mid-1999 as Planet Hollywood sold its stake to a New Jersey-based real estate investment trust.
Like many classic restaurant chains that no longer exist, All-Star Cafe was no exception. The chain of restaurants had locations at tourist locations. Not only did it help it win customers, but it succumbed to a sweet but bitter end due to problems of fewer returning customers. Its location made it more of a one-time off-the-bucket list visit and experience.
As even the most successful chains can fail, what best restaurants around you do you think will cease to exist in the future?