7 Once-Favorite Fast Food Chains We Rarely Visit Today
In the world of fast food, there is a lot of competition. Between America’s biggest chains and duels of sandwich shops, cafes and burger joints, there’s an abundance of places to choose from. The brutal part for these rival companies? The competitiveness of the QSR market means that there will always be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. When customers begin to show a preference for one channel over another, the popularity of old favorites can fade faster than lightning in the pan. Fast food chains are under pressure to maintain a great reputation while looking for innovative ways to stand out from competitors and stay relevant to consumers.
Due to the nature of the industry, it’s no surprise to see once-favourites get bad press, lose customers and, in some cases, even file for bankruptcy. Even fast food restaurants with a long heritage can find themselves in a position where their best chance of survival depends on the franchise’s ability to pivot and adapt quickly to meet ever-changing market demand. As a result, they might even consider renaming themselves, ditching everything once familiar in hopes of bringing customers home.
That being said, here are 7 once-favorite fast food chains we used to love but barely visit now. Then, after reading this, be sure to check out 8 restaurant chains that are currently shrinking.
Subway has repeatedly tried to redeem itself from its bad reputation for poor quality food. In 2021, Subway even went so far as to launch a complete menu overhaul, giving itself a much-needed rebrand. That same year, catering company also reported that in 2020, the sub-sandwich chain closed approximately 2,200 to 2,400 of its store units, which equates to approximately 10% of its store units. While the The 90s and early 2000s may have been Subway’s heydayToday, the sandwich franchise is also up against a more saturated market, with sandwich chains like Jimmy John’s, Potbelly and Jersey Mike’s Subs continuing to devour share of this niche market. Can the Metro make a viable comeback? Given the trajectory of this company over the past few years, only time will tell.
When you think of Boston Market, you may begin to feel the nostalgia of the 90s and fast comfort food. Although some don’t classify the restaurant formerly known as Boston Chicken as a fast-food chain, at one time it was considered a viable franchise that could hold its own against competitors in the QSR category.
While Boston Market tried to build customer loyalty by investing in marketing campaigns and coupon offers, unfortunately, its ambitions could not offset the reported losses. decline in food quality and customer service.
The company even filed a request Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1998and McDonald’s acquired it shortly after. However, the Golden Arches sanctuary only lasted so long, with McDonald’s eventually sell the franchise to a private investment company in 2007. The brand faced a noticeable drop in sales in the late 2010s, even formwork for 10% of its locations in 2019. Then in 2020Boston Market Enterprises was again passed on, this time acquired by online brand management agency Engage Brands, LLC.
Throughout this corporate hot potato game (or hot roast chicken, in this case), Boston Market has tried to stay resilient and hang on. The acquisition by Engage Brands appears to have helped the company regroup to some extent, as Boston Market quickly opened new locations across the country. Hopefully, this is a sign that Boston Market is truly poised to thrive again.
Founded in 1934— right in the middle of the Great Depression — Steak ‘n Shake has seen many ups and downs throughout its nearly 90 years, and its longevity alone speaks volumes about the durability of this brand. But these days, when you’re trying to choose a burger to satisfy your cravings, chances are Steak ‘n Shake won’t be the first fast food restaurant that comes to mind, because the popularity of the business began to decline at the end of the years.
“Experts point to a decline in service and food quality, from 2008, as the main culprit for the chain’s decline in popularity,” Eat this, not that! Previously reported.
This quickly led to store closures, and by 2021 Steak ‘n Shake was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. However, the company was able to dodge that bullet when its parent company, Biglari Holdings, managed to repay its $153 million debt. Yet despite their best efforts — even reporting a profit of $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2021 — the fast food franchise is still struggling to pull itself together. In fact, he would have lost 40% of its revenues that same quarter. While I support Steak ‘n Shack and hope for the best, it seems like this channel is running into a lot of complicated hurdles, and I’m honestly not sure it’s able to bounce back successfully. But I hope that, for their own good, they will prove me wrong.
There’s nothing quite like staying and ordering a pizza. It’s fast, easy and convenient. But given the mix of local, family-run pizzerias and fast-food rivals, it’s hard to stand out in the pizzeria business. While Pizza Hut may be famous for its slogan, “nobody gets out of the hut”, recent data shows otherwise.
According catering company, a study published in the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant report found that Pizza Hut’s year-over-year sales fell 2.2% in 2020. Meanwhile, Domino’s sales increased 17 .6% and Papa John’s also saw an increase of 15.9%. Pizza Hut has also suffered a number of store closures, much of which has been attributed to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the chain would have closed more than 1,200 pitches worldwide, and its largest franchisee even filed for bankruptcy in response to $1 billion in debt.
After opening its doors in 1981, Quiznos seemed to be booming, growing rapidly throughout the 90s and into the early 2007s, that is, until the onset of the Great Recession. The sandwich chain quickly found itself feeling the impact of this economic downturn, closing around 90% of its locations over the next decade.
“Between 2007 and 2017, Quiznos went from having 4,700 sites in the United States to less than 400. We can’t find any other example of a channel that has grown to this size that has shrunk so much in such a short time,”catering company claimed in a 2018 article. In addition, Quiznos sales are also said to have dropped from $1.9 billion in 2007 to $171 million in 2017. And just like many other fast food chains mentioned here, they have also had to resort to filing for bankruptcy in 2014.
But Quiznos isn’t giving up. Although they only have 170 locations in June 2022, they are ready to make a comeback. According RSQ magazine, the beloved toast sub-chain is set to launch an innovative new “globally inspired menu” and also intends to remodel its store units. So, maybe we’ll all find ourselves singing Quiznos’ iconic “we love subs” jingle once again in due course.
Anyone with access to a TV has probably caught a Carl’s Jr. commercial or two, especially in the mid-2000s when the company surprised everyone by recruiting Paris Hilton as her brand ambassador.
But despite Mrs. Hilton’s notoriety and candor more than 80 years of heritage, Carl’s Jr. has again faced its fair share of setbacks. Lagging regional chains like In-N-Out-Burger and Whataburger, a 2021 report from Statistical US major burger chain sales valuation shows Carl’s Jr. ranking 11e place with just over $1.5 million in sales.
There was always a bit of hype around White Castle, thanks to its mini burgers and medieval royal showcase. Founded in 1921, White Castle is 100 years old and has the honor of being “America’s Oldest Fast Food Chain”. Is it an accomplishment? Absolutely. But the longer you stay in business, the more likely things are to fall apart – and that’s exactly what happened to this chain, despite its ability to stand the test of time.
An aspect of The Cases of White Castle model that differentiates it from other well-known fast food chains is that it does not franchise its restaurants. Considered a niche burger chain, White Castle maintains a limited number of locations scattered across the United States. While this hasn’t seemed to be a problem for the brand in the past, between 2015 and 2020 White Castle closed around 30 of its restaurants. Now some of us are wondering if its narrow scope is somehow related to the unexpected decline of the fast food chain. In 2022, only about 349 White Castle locations remained.