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.
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.
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!