Classic Restaurants Chains That No Longer Exist or Are Barely Surviving

Today, some of the top fast food restaurants include the likes of Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Subway, McDonald’s etc. There are also major chains of sit down restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s and many more.  Whenever we go to a chain restaurant, you know what to expect such as the dishes served and the quality of service we will get. These are the reasons why these restaurants have been successful over time.

Even with the overall success of the fast food and sit down restaurant industry, many chains have been unable to survive recessions, depressions, and major changes in the food industry. There are in fact a lot of formerly successful fast food restaurants that no longer exist. Here are some of the classic fast food restaurants that no longer exist.

1. All Star Café

All Star Cafe

During the popularity of this restaurant, it had 10 stores in different in famous locations like Times Square and Walt Disney World. It was owned by Planet Hollywood. They tried to change the theme of the restaurant and gave it a sporty vibe but they didn’t last long. They closed out all the All Star Café stores in 2007.

2. Horn & Hardart

This restaurant was one of a kind. It was known for serving automated fast food. They had this contraption that’s called “automat” where you would purchase prepared food from a glass window. It’s like a giant vending machine that disperses your food after you insert payment. You just have to pull the lever to have your freshly-made food. Unfortunately, Horn & Hardart’s last location closed in 1991 but their automat restaurant style was copied by other fast food chains in Europe and Japan.

3. Lum’s


This family owned restaurant opened its first location in Miami Beach in 1956. They started out as a hot dog stand and slowly became a full fast food restaurant that served hot dogs that were steamed in beer and their famous Lumburger. In 1969, Lum’s had over 400 branches that extended all the way to Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Sadly, the company filed for bankruptcy and closed all its stores in 1982.

4. Bennigan’sBennigan’s

This fast food chain was one of America’s first casual dining and sports bar chain. But eventually, they fail to keep in pace with restaurants like Applebee’s and Friday’s. Bennigan’s was sold several times through the years before filing for bankruptcy in 2008. Today, there are only 23 locations that are open across the US.

5. Minnie’s Pearl Chicken

Minnie’s Pearl Chicken was one of KFC’s main competitors. It was founded by entrepreneur John Jay Hooker and country singer Minnie Pearl. The business was a huge success, it had hundreds of locations across the country.  But that success apparently was in part due to less than positive financial management. In addition the quality of some franchises was less than great and they eventually completely went out of existence.

6. D’lites

This hamburger chain was founded in 1978 and within less than five years since opening their first store, D’lites became popular across the country, having over 100 different locations. However, the success was very short-lived. They were known for offering a healthier menu compared to their competitors.  Once those competitors started offering healthier food choices, it put D’lites out of business.

7. WimpyWimpy

The name of this restaurant came from a Popeye’s character. The food chain was founded by Edward Gold in 1934. The chain quickly became successful having over 1,500 locations all around the world. But shortly after the death of Edward Gold in 1977, Wimpy’s branches started to disappear in the United States. No one purchased the rights and trademark of the chain from Gold’s estate. So legally speaking, no one owned the Wimpy stores in the States. Wimpy’s does live on internationally with its headquarters moving to the UK and then eventually South Africa.

8. Naugles

Naugles is a tex-mex restaurant in Southern California during the 1970’s. It has a slogan of “Prepare Food Fresh, Serve Customer Fast, Keep Place Clean.” The chain eventually merged with Del Taco which resulted to changing most of the branch name to Naugles Del Taco. There are only two Naugles branches left open. They are in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach, California.

9. Kenny Rogers’ RoastersKenny Roger’s Roasters

Country singer Kenny Rogers Teamed up with John Y. Brown to establish Kenny Rogers’ Roasters in 1990. Their food became popular but came up against stiff competition with KFC, Boston Market and others. In 1998, they sold Kenny Rogers’ Roasters to Nathan’s. There are still some branches open in South East Asia after being sold to a Malaysian conglomerate.

10. Pup ‘N Taco

Pup ‘N Taco

Despite having a taco on their name, they served a variety of dishes like hamburgers, pastrami sandwiches, and hotdogs. Its first store opened in 1965 and it quickly became a success. It had over 62 branches by the end of 1973. Taco Bell bought 99 branches of Pup ‘N Taco in California but eventually all of its stores closed in 2010.

11. Sandy’sSandy’s

Established by a group of unhappy McDonald’s employees, Sandy’s had a menu that is very similar to McDonald’s. But they had problems including their business structure and leasing terms that’s why they filed for bankruptcy and they were forced to sell Sandy’s to Hardee’s in the 1970’s.

12. The All-American Burger

Although this burger joint was famous only in Southern California, it became well known because it was featured in the 1982 movie entitled “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” They grew by acquisition but they eventually filed for bankruptcy with its founder being accused of fraud.  All of its location in the West Coast were closed in 2010. However, a Massapequa, Long Island based company is using the same name and logos in the East Coast and they have been flipping burgers since 1961.

13. Burger Chef

Burger Chef

This was a chain of hamburger restaurant in Indianapolis that was owned by General Electric. They started out in 1954 and had over 1,200 locations. It was McDonald’s’ biggest competitor back in the day. They ended up having too many stores and the quality of their food began to decline. The fast food chain lost to McDonalds and they were sold off to General Foods and later on they were sold off again.

14. Steak and AleSteak and Ale

In 1966, Steak and Ale was founded in Dallas, Texas. It quickly became popular because they served steaks at a very affordable price. They also offered a salad bar, free beverages, and dessert. But they weren’t able to keep up with the competition and closed their last location in 2008. But don’t worry, Steak and Ale’s parent company started offering franchise opportunities again in early 2017 so watch out for a comeback.

15. Mighty Casey’s

This fast food restaurant was very popular at Atlanta, Georgia in the 1980s. They were known for their tasty, creative, and delicious menu. People lined up just to eat at Mighty Casey’s. They offered hamburgers, cajun wings, chopped BBQ sandwiches, and frankfurters. But sadly, this restaurant was brought-out by Krystal in 1994.

16. House of Pies

This fast food chain was founded in 1965 by Al Lapin Jr. and they offered a wide ranging pie selection that you can choose from. Name the pie and they had it.  But unfortunately, the House of Pies started to go downhill and filed for bankruptcy. There are a few of the original House of Pies that still operate in Houston and Los Angeles.

17. Chi-Chi’s


Chi-chi’s was a restaurant that offers Mexican food. It was founded in 1975 and the business quickly boomed to a total of 210 locations in 1995. But unfortunately, business did not go well with Chi-chi’s. The company slowly declined after a Hepatitis A outbreak in one of their stores resulting to death of four people. The company never recovered and they later sold off to Outback Steakhouse which later sold them off again. Chi-chi’s still has stores operating at in Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Luxemburg.

18. Child’sChild’s

Named after its founder, Samuel Childs, this New York City restaurant started in 1889. It has stores in the US and Canada and was very popular during the 1920s and 1930s. Childs had almost 125 different locations and served over 50 million meals each year.  The company filed for bankruptcy during the 1940’s but they continued to operate and later became Hotel Corporation of America. During the 1960’s Childs remaining locations were sold off to other companies.

19. Henry’s Hamburgers

Henry’s Hamburger

Henry’s hamburgers was owned by an ice cream company and was one of McDonald’s competitors during the 1960s. They offered milkshakes, and hamburgers for less than a dollar. During the 1970’s Henry’s Hamburgers began to decline because they could not compete with other fast food chains. They didn’t offer a drive-in and didn’t bother to expand and diversify their menu. There is only one Henry’s Hamburger store left and it’s located at Benton Harbor, Miami.

20. Schrafft’s


Originally started as a candy store in New York in 1898. They soon became a restaurant and expanded in multiple locations. By 1937, there were almost 43 Schrafft’s locations in the East Coast. But they closed out completely in the early 1980s.

These are some of the classical fast food restaurants we enjoyed before but no longer exist today. So, which of these restaurants do you miss the most?

21. Pumper Nic

Image of Pumper Nic logo.

Pumper Nic was a great hit of the 70s and 80s in Argentina. With a name from pumpernickel bread, it was a cult classic for Argentinians.

It suffered a blow after chains like Burger King made their way down to Argentina. It lost business due to competition. It also had to change its name to Pumper and the logo because of a lawsuit by Burger King. The restaurant chain inevitably came to a not-so-sweet end in 1974.

22. Gino’s Hamburgers

Image of Gino’s hamburgers logo.

Colts captain Gino Marchetti collaborated with Joe Campanella, Louis Fisher, and Alan Ameche to form this hamburger joint in 1959. The restaurant chain was a huge success because of its impeccable customer service and food quality. They had 359 locations! However, in 1982 the Marriott Corporation bought it and rebranded it to Roy Rogers Restaurants. The last one closed in 1986.

23. SambosImage of the sambos official logo.

Starting in 1967: this restaurant chain became a hot topic because of its controversial and racist name. The American food chain became defunct in 1982 with changing its name to the Jolly Tiger initially. The chain changed its name multiple times to survive. However, after a series of bad decisions, the company had to file for bankruptcy in 1981. The majority of branches got sold off, and one remained. It was renamed as well in 2020. Hence, the controversial yet ever-famous Sambos no longer exists today. 

24. Beefsteak Charlie

Image of Beefsteak Charlie.

Back in the 90s, themed fast food joints were having a great moment. They were growing in popularity and talking of one: you cannot forget the ever-famous Beefsteak Charlie!

It was a horse-racing-themed restaurant chain. The restaurant chain was started in early 1976 by restaurateur Larry Ellman. He converted his Steak & Brew to Beefsteak Charlies. 

The chain was famous for its steak sandwich and had 60 locations. It took a hit in 2009 and closed forever. 

25. Howard Johnson’s

Image of Howard Johnson’s restaurant.

Howard Johnson remains one of the first sit-down fast-food outposts. It was founded in the 1920s with around 200 stores by the beginning of WW2. 

The chain operated for 90 years with an outstanding reputation. However, it could not keep up with the modern restaurant chain competitors and closed in 2020.  

The Takeaway

Many iconic restaurants from history have come to an end or are barely surviving. For decades from now, we might not even see the popular classics or best restaurants of today. If you are a restaurant owner, here is how to dress it for success. So what do you think fate holds?