History of Fuddruckers

Although a relatively younger name compared to other burger chains, Fuddruckers has firmly established its hold in the American burgerdom. But like many other hamburger chains across the country, Fuddruckers has weathered the toughest financial challenges, several relocations and different ownerships.

Fuddruckers is known to offer large hamburgers which are made from 100% freshly ground free-range and hormone-free USDA beef as well as freshly baked hamburger buns. The chain, as always since from the very beginning, has assured to its patrons that it doesn’t use frozen beef for their patties.

Fuddruckers is known for making “World’s Greatest Hamburger,” a slogan which is even seen on its logo. It was the realization of a dream of one guy named Philip “Phil” J. Romano. Born in Auburn, New York, he relocated to Florida and stayed there for many years before finally moving to San Antonio, Texas. It was in San Antonio where he began his dream of cooking up a “better hamburger,” because he wasn’t able to find a place to get great, freshly made burgers. So in 1979 Romano found an old, abandoned bank and converted it into a hamburger restaurant. He originally called it “Freddie Fuddruckers,” which was inspired by a fictional airline called Fudpucker Airlines.

The restaurant’s concept was to offer big burgers in which the beef was freshly off the grind and the buns were freshly baked inside the premises, served with lots of only the freshest sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and then dressed with cheese sauce.

By 1988, Fuddruckers had 150 branches, but Romano decided to sell Fuddruckers and start a new chain called Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

This is where the ownership of Fuddruckers began to change hands. Romano sold the chain to an entrepreneur named Michael Cannon. But that won’t be long before Fuddruckers was sold to Austin-based Magic Brands, who also used to own the chicken restaurant chain Koo Koo Roo.

But the financial crisis in 2008 led to the closure of many businesses, including Fuddruckers. As a result, Magic Brands filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and announced that the 24 Fuddruckers restaurants would be closed. Originally, Magic Brands intended to sell Fuddruckers to Tavistock Group for $40 million, but the latter was outbidden by Luby’s to the tune of $61 million. Luby’s also acquired the Koo Koo Roo restaurant chain (which eventually closed in 2010).

Luby’s still owns Fuddruckers and has retained the full company name “Luby’s Fuddruckers Restaurants, LLC” since the acquisition deal.

Sale to Nicholas Perkins

Nicholas Perkins paid an estimated $18.5 million for the Fuddruckers franchise, making him the largest franchise owner and the first African American to own 100% of a national burger chain. 

Perkins’ Black Titan Franchise Systems LLC agreed to buy the Fuddruckers brand from Luby’s, which began liquidating its assets and dissolving the company in 2021.

Before its full acquisition, Perkin’s Black Titan Franchise Systems already owns and operated 13 Fuddruckers.

As Fuddruckers’ ownership changed, its headquarters also experienced several relocations:

  • Beverly, Massachusetts
  • Denvers, Massachusetts
  • Austin, Texas – Fuddruckers spent $1 million for the relocation, laid off 30 employees from the previous headquarters in Massachusetts, and hired new 30 employees for the headquarters in Austin.
  • Houston, Texas – Fuddruckers’ current headquarters

Presently, Fuddruckers has over 100 locations across the United States, as well as several locations abroad particularly in some parts of Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

Did you know

According to the words on its vibrant sign, Fuddruckers takes pride in having the “World’s Greatest Hamburgers.” While that may be an audacious claim to make, Fuddruckers is willing to stake a claim on it with high-quality food, endless options, and curated casual comfort (and did we already mention the unlimited cheese sauce?). What else is there to know outside the origin of the completely absurd name? In actuality, this famous burger restaurant has a rich history. 

These are some untold Fuddruckers stories.

1. Founder Phil Romano originally entered the restaurant business by collaborating with the father of one of his karate students at a restaurant in North Palm Beach. Considering that Romano was in charge of two karate schools at the time, he had to sell them off in order to devote himself totally to the restaurant project. They were earning, according to Romano, approximately $20,000 per year, but given the other food empires he would build, it was definitely the right decision.

2. Romano experimented in the medical business in the 1980s by making an investment in a new heart stent, despite the objections of his accountant and lawyer. Romano would earn around $180 million from the device, which would eventually become a vital tool for heart surgeons.

3. Accordingly, the spirit of a skateboard boy who broke his neck there when it was a skate park is said to frequent the Fuddruckers in Modesto, California. He seems to fool by the music system, doors, and lighting.

Going over to the Fuddruckers’ menu, the chain’s flagship dish is the “Original Fudds Burger” which is offered in several sizes: 1/3 pound, 1/2 pound, 2/3 pound and 1 pound. All burgers and buns are made from scratch — nothing is pre-made or frozen.

There are many factors that make Fuddruckers different from the other hamburger chains. These include the “Market Fresh Burger Topping Bar,” where customers order plain burgers and then choose their own preferred toppings, condiments and any other fixings. Another is the chain’s exotic burgers made of buffalo, elk or wild boar meat! Although not every Fuddruckers branch offers all kinds of exotic burgers, each of the restaurant has at least one exotic meat variety on the menu. It also offers chicken burgers and even veggie burgers, plus the usual diner/burger chain items like shakes, salads and cookies.

If you are on the quest for the “world’s greatest hamburger,” you may finally find it at Fuddruckers!