Malls, waterparks, clubs and movie halls, are some of the places that come into mind when we think of outdoor trips, but this wasn’t always the case.
There were times when these dominating building and fun parks were not typical. Those were the times when people preferred restaurants and burger joints for get-togethers. Unfortunately, with time, trends changes and most of these places disappeared into thin air.
We kept moving on, but deep down there are still memories of these places in many minds. There are untold stories or rise and demise of many famous restaurants. You might remember the restaurant that you visited in your childhood, which then got shut and never opened again.
Long before the era of smartphones applications and online ordering, these restaurants were a significant part of every life. They were the center for teenager hang-outs, couple romantic dinners and family get together. They served some of the most authentic tastes and witnessed the beginning of many life long bonds. We don’t know which were appreciated more, but we do know that all of these places are missed.
Well, here are 40 such restaurants that were once the grand attraction of their customers and states but don’t exist anymore. Some of these held more than a few hundred locations before they shut.
Beefsteak Charlie’s And Its Eat All You Can Policy
“I’ll feed you like there’s no tomorrow” was the slogan of this Manhattan restaurant. This place was famous for its sandwiches, all-you-can-eat salads, shrimp, wine, beer, sangria, and horse racing photograph collection. It was like the ultimate heaven for the sports enthusiast, but it couldn’t keep up with the competition and rising expenses.
Beefsteak Charlie’s took too much care of their customers, and this became the main reason for their low-profit margins. The place lived with its slogan for a really long time but the losses were high, and they have to shut the outlets.
Howard Johnson’s And Its 1,000 Outlets
Howard Johnson’s, mostly known as HoJo’s was the largest food-chain of the 1960s and 70s. This restaurant chain was famous for its unique building designs that exhibited orange roofs, weather vanes and peaks.
Their outlets gained popularity in no time, and the same is true for their downfall.
With the introduction of new businesses in that era, HoJo’s started to look too basic. In a few years, it became incapable of keeping up with the competition. There was not much room for financial growth or innovation, so they have to shut this place.
The Planet Hollywood’s Official All Star Café
This sports themed café started its business on December 18, 1995, with its first location at Time Square of New York City. Many sports icons of that time like Andre Agassi, Ken Griffey Jr, Wayne Gretzky, Shaq, and Je Montana invested in this place.
The ultimate goal of this restaurant was to provide a safe haven for sports Enthusiasts, but the changing trends hit this place hard. Its popularity began to decrease over time and in 2007, the company closed all their chains.
VIP’s-The Denny’s-Style Restaurant of Oregon
This defunct restaurant was once the largest chain of Oregon. This 1968 started restaurant served breakfast meals throughout the day. It provided a combination of both a coffee shop and a dining spot, which became the main reason for its popularity.
VIP’s were mostly established along the freeway and was the most accessible dining place for travelers. This place was at the top level until the early 1980s, after which the restaurant’s business started to go down and the owner has to sell 35 locations to Denny’s.
The Automated Horn & Hardart Restaurant
Joseph Horn of Philadelphia and New Orleans raised Frank Hardart, were the innovators of this place. They started it in 1888 with the motive to serve Orleans styled coffee in Philadelphia. This place was the first automated hotel in the state.
The restaurant worked on grab and pay system that was a unique experience for customers. The restaurant also got popularity because of its sit-down waitress service, bakeries, and interior decors. Sadly, this chain was consumed by rising businesses like burger king. They tried to prevent losses by investing in hotels but the financial losses were high, so they had to shut-down the machine. The last one of them was on the southern corner of 42nd street in New York. It shut in 1991.
Isaly’s and the Klondike Bars
This company is a milestone in the history of America. It was known for their chipped chopped hams and ice-creams. The famous Klondike bar is one of the many contributions of this company.
Most people believe that the company adapted its name from its founder, but their advertisement stated that it stood for “I Shall Always Love You, Sweetheart.” Another less known fact about the company is the reason for its demise in-1990s. Its said that shifting customer demands and losing spark was the main reason for it.
The Famous Hotdog by Lum’s Restaurants
Lum’s restaurant chain started in 1956 as a hot dog stands in Miami Beach, Florida. Their rich taste hot dog, especially the beer streamed variant was one of the reasons for their initial sale. The Perlman’s saw potential in their work and expanded it to four locations by 1961.
They had over 400 company-owned franchise restaurants by 1969. But this sudden boost ultimately became their demise. The company couldn’t sustain the business flow and ended up filing bankruptcy. All their original restaurants were closed by 1982.
White Tower- The Photocopy Restaurant
White tower was a hamburger joint that was introduced in 1926 by Milwaukee Wisconsin. The place got its inspiration from the very famous, White Castle burger chain. All its building, dishes, advertisement, and every other aspect was a copy of the original restaurant.
It was at the peak of its carrier during the1950s and acquired 230 locations. Their expansion attracted many others, including the owners of White Castle, who then filed a legal lawsuit against this chain. In return, the white tower also filed a lawsuit, and they both got drag into legal matters, which ended with the demise of the white tower. The last white tower shut its gate in 2004.
The Sweet Memory of Schrafft’s
In 1898, a candy store of New York State came into the light for establishing some of the most famous restaurants of all time, the Schraff’s. Their restaurants were widely known as they were one of the few places of that time which allowed unescorted women.
These restaurants expanded to over 43 locations in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston by 1937. They always managed to impress their customer with quality services but over the time competition increased. Schrafft’s did not have any chance against the new raising eateries and decided to shut their doors forever.
Minnie Pearl’s Fried Chicken Challenge
John Jay Hooker and the famous country singer, Minnie Pearl, came up with the idea to start a chicken restaurant. The idea was a super hit. Minnie Pearl’s chicken gained a considerable fan following, and in no time it was on the top of its carrier. The chain acquired over 500 restaurants at its prime time.
Sadly, they lacked in the cohesiveness of menus which lead to their crashing. Moreover, their competition was against KFC, and they couldn’t handle the race. Furthermore, Minnie Pearl’s got into some legal issues and had to shut their business.
The Short Reign of Gino’s Hamburger
The former professional American football player, Gino Marchetti, opened a chain of restaurants by his name, Gino’s. His place served best in class hamburgers and became a culinary main-slay of the 1960s. Not long after this success, Gino’s had another upraise, expansion to over 300 spots.
Gino’s had many set-ups all across the east coast and Midwest, but its reign was short. It was eventually, acquired by Marriott who converted all Gino’s restaurants to Roy Rogers. The last independent building of Gino’s was in Pasadena, Maryland, at least until 1986.
D’lite of America Restaurant Chain
D’lite of America was the most short-lived but ahead of the curve restaurant chain. Its first establishment took place in 1978 which was a massive success in every term. The chain expanded to over 100 locations worldwide within less than a decade.
The only problem that affected them was the lack of sight. The restaurant was not flexible with the growing trends of healthy food. Eventually, it lost most of the customer to other brands like Burger King, McDonald, Wendy and more. Its cash flow decreased and then their locations shut, one by one.
Shakes and Malts from Henry’s Hamburger
Burger and malts are something that customers of every age and gender love. No wonder, the ice cream company, Henry’s also tried its luck in this business. They started their restaurant chain by the same name.
Their competition was against McDonald’s, but their low prices assured a rapid gain. However, this growth did not last much longer. The competitors had a wide variety and flavors which provided them leverage over Henry’s.
Henry’s located in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is the only one that still stands.
Enjoy a Burger in Wimpy’s Style
Edward Gold was the founder of the chain of burger restaurants, known by the name Wimpy. The name of this Bloomington based brand came from the Famous Character “Wimpy” from the cartoon Popeye. In 1954, this chain entered the UK as “Wimpy bar,” and in no time it was on 1500 location worldwide.
However, it started to lose hold of the United States market after the death of its owner. Though the rights and trademarks remain with Gold’s, there are only a few locations with operational Wimpy’s.
The Orange Circle of Wetson’s Fast Food
“Look for the orange circle” and “buy a bagful,” are the slogan of Wetson’s restaurants. This place was like a blend of all famous brands like McDonalds and White Castle. It was like all the fast food in one place.
No wonder it gained over 70 locations within no time. However, the brand merged with the hot dog chain, Nathan’s Famous in 1975, and eventually disappeared into thin air.
Dick Naugle’s Mexican Restaurant
Started in 1970 from Sothern California, the Mexican fast food restaurant, Naugles was one of the most appreciated eating places of its era. Former Del Taco Partner Nick Naugle found it.
The motto of this place was “Prepare fresh. Serve fast. Keep the place clean!” This restaurant didn’t actually shut; it merged with Del Taco and started doing business with the new name. However, in the year 2015, Christian Ziebarth reopened this restaurant in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach.
Casa Bonita of Oklahoma City
The city of Oklahoma became the center for this Mexican themed restaurant chain. The brand was named Casa Bonita which means “Beautiful House” in Spanish. Bill Waugh found this food chain in 1968.
Casa Bonita was all about customer service and great shows, at the same time. They called it “eatertainment.” The place enjoyed fame at a point of time, but presently, they have only one restaurant. The last Casa Bonita is in Lakewood, but it serves under a different name.
Al Lapin’s House of Pies
The 1965 founded House of Pies restaurant chain was a paradise for pie lovers. It offered just about every type of pie, you could imagine. It was founded by Al Lapin Jr. who was also a part of International House of pancakes.
The sweet joint was a popular trend around the year of 1979, but its profit soon declined. By the year of 1986, the owners of this brand filed for bankruptcy. However, some individually owned parts of the chain in Houston and Los Angeles are still operational.
Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse Restaurants
Three businessmen started this food chain in the year 1966. The Milburn based dining restaurant chain began from Warren, New Jersey. The restaurants were a big hit and became favorite public spots during 1980 and 1990s.
However, after the initial blast of popularity, its business began to decrease rapidly. They have to sell more than 47 locations just for the reconstruction plan. Currently, there are only a few operational Charlie Brown’s, one in New Jersey and other in New York State. They are owned and operated by another company.
The Iconic Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant
Bob’s pantry later known by the name Bob’s Big Boy restaurant was one of America’s iconic symbols of the 20th century. Bob Wian who found this chain is also known for innovating the Big Boy statue and double deck Hamburgers.
Since its foundation in Southern California in 1936, this place was a massive hit. It secured over 200 locations all across America. It still has 80 operational joints but in Michigan and Southern California only.
Royal Castle- the king Style Restaurants
Royal castle restaurant chain by Willian Singer was one of the most known, Hamburger joint of 1938. This Miami restaurant worked under the motto “Fit for a king” and was famous for its White Castle style, miniature Hamburger.
It held over 175 locations all through Florida, Ohio, Georgia and Louisiana. Its business was at peak until 1970, after which it started to lose its spark. The new monster brands like Burger King, McDonald’s ate its business. So, the owner sold all its locations except the one in Miami.
Mighty Casey’s Generously Serving Restaurant
Mighty Casey’s was a 1980 fast food chain that originated from Atlanta, Georgia. It was famous for its serving quality and generous customer service. Its exclusive menus and taste further set it apart from other restaurants.
The restaurant served Hamburgers, BBQ sandwiches, Cajun Wings and Frankfurters with exclusive Wisconsin beef, signature sauces and batter.
In 1994, another food chain known by the name Krystal bought all their locations. All the franchises and restaurants now work under the title, Krystal.
The Luxurious G.D. Ritzy’s Grill
Ex Wendy’s executive, Graydon Webb started this place during the 1980s. This restaurant was a luxurious grill with a 1950s diner feel. Apart from the daily fix of burgers and hot, Ritzy’s also served ice cream for customers with a sweet tooth.
This restaurant held over 120 locations and a very successful business track, before going down. It ended up with just three spots by the time it shut in 1991. There only operational firms are in Evansville, Indiana, and Huntington.
The Burger Queen of Louisville
The Burger Queen, also known as the Druther’s restaurant started its business from Louisville, Kentucky. The chain operated between the years of 1963 and 1981 under the name Burger Queen and then Druther’s after it. Druther’s started from Middletown, with the motto, “I’d Ruther Go to Druther’s Restaurant” and their official mascot, the giant bee, Queenie.
Later, this brand became a part of Dairy Queen which converted all its outlets. The 145 restaurants under the Druther international became a part of the new Druther’s system Inc.
Though it is defunct from years, its Campbellsville franchise is still operational.
Claudia Sanders, The Colonel’s Lady
After selling his KFC shares in 1964, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, Harland Sanders and his wife started a new food chain by the name Claudia Sanders, The Colonel’s Lady. This place was a sit-down restaurant that served their secret recipe chicken.
KFC sued the couple for this restaurant as they were using the secret recipe. In the eye of the law, Sanders did not pose rights over the method after selling his business. Eventually, the lawsuit ended with a settlement, which stated that Sanders can continue his restaurant but only in one location. This place is still functional in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
Authentic Southern Tastes at Morrison’s Cafeteria
J.A Morrison’s restaurants were a part of life for many southern American natives. The place was known to serve authentic southern cooking and got massive traffic during Church Sundays.
Morrison came to light in 1920, with its establishment in Mobile, Alabama. It held over 151 locations in 13 states at its prime time. The chain was at the top of business until the 1990s when it began to collapse. Eventually, its whole economy fell apart, and Piccadilly took it over in 1998.
Singing Po’ Folk Inside Po’ Folk
Po’ Folk, the name is very much familiar to anyone who listened to Bill Anderson. It was the most famous track of that 1961. It was also the name of Malcolm Hare’s famous restaurant of 1975.
The restaurant started with a boom but then began to fall, but the owner was not ready to let it go and continued it. Nine years later it finally grew to a chain of 102 restaurants in 17 locations. However, in 1988, the business went down leaving only eight of these places. Po’ Folk is now limited to Florida’s Panhandle, St Petersburg, and Alabama’s Enterprise.
The Era of Sub Sandwiches With Blimpie Subs & Salads
The year 1964 marks an important milestone in the history of food restaurants. The first and the most famous sub sandwich chain, Blimpie Subs & Salads, entered the arena during this year. Their first restaurant was in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The restaurant served something that no other place did at that time. It was a massive hit and became popular in no time. Sadly, this fame didn’t last forever. Blimpie’s margins decreased from $300 million with 1853 stores to $115 million with 739 stores. In 2007, a franchising company, Kahala, bought this chain.