In the last several decades, restaurant franchises have become a major part of American consumer culture. Old restaurant chains like Outback, Friday’s, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Red Robin, and others dominate highway and mall locations. However, seemingly for every success story, there are countless defunct restaurant chains. Some reached great heights before plummeting down to earth, while others were never able to truly get off the ground. Pull up a seat, open the menu, and let’s look at some defunct restaurant chains you might not even remember. 1. Gino's Hamburgers Football Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti opened the first Gino’s Hamburgers in 1957. By the 70s, he had over 300 locations. Marchetti sold the chain to Marriott in the early 1980s, and the hotel chain quickly turned all the Gino’s into Roy Rogers. In 2010, he returned to the restaurant business, opening up a new Gino’s location. Pinterest 2. Burger Chef At one time, Burger Chef had over 1,000 locations and rivaled McDonald's. It was one of my favorite old restaurant chains. The chain also introduced several fast-food staples to the industry, including kids’ meals with toys. However, they were doomed by bad business practices, and Burger Chef was sold to Hardee’s in 1981. FreeWebs 3. Bob's Big Boy Bob’s Big Boy’s double-decker burgers and iconic mascot became a staple of American highways in the 20th century. The chain is still holding on in about 100 locations in California and the Midwest. pinimg.com 4. Bennigan's Bennigan’s was one of America’s first casual dining/sports-bar chains. However, they always lagged behind similar concepts from contemporaries Friday’s, Applebee’s, and Chilies. The chain was sold several times and filed for bankruptcy in 2008. New ownership has kept 23 locations open in the U.S. Flickr 5. Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, now owned by the same parent company, once numbered in the hundreds combined in the United States. Today, the total of both stands at under 20 across the country. MyDaytonDailyNews 6. Charlie Brown's Steakhouse Charlie Brown’s was a quickly-growing regional chain out of New Jersey in the 80s and 90s. The corporation went out of business, though some franchise owners have stayed open. Otherstream 7. Naugles Naugles had a very respectable 25-year run from 1970-1995. A Mexican fast-food establishment with locations all over the United States, its charming motto was, “Prepare food fresh. Serve customer fast. Keep the place clean!” Have to respect that, right? There were as many as 225 locations by the mid-80s, with the final one — in Carson City, Nevada — closing its doors in 1995. In 2015, entrepreneur Christian Ziebarth revived the restaurant. There are currently two locations in California. Pinterest 8. Sambo's Sam Battistone and Newell F. Bohnet opened the first Sambo’s restaurant in 1957. The chain’s name was a source of controversy: According to the company, the name was simply a portmanteau of the founder’s last names, as opposed to being a reference to the use of Sambo as a derogatory term for African Americans. The fact that the decor of the restaurants displayed the racist caricature Li’l Black Sambo didn’t help their cause. At its height, the chain had about 1,000 locations but dogged by the controversy, the company shut down in the 80s. Most of the locations were sold to Denny’s, while the others were shut down. Flickr - Old restaurant chains 9. Kenny Rogers' Roasters Country singer Kenny Rogers teamed with business partner John Y. Brown to launch this chicken chain in 1990. While the food was popular, they were never able to break into the market and the restaurants were sold off to Nathan’s in 1998. However, the chain was immortalized in a classic episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. Pinterest - Old restaurant chains 10. Minnie Pearl's Chicken The story of Minnie Pearl’s Chicken has become a cautionary tale for franchisees. In the 1960’s, businessman John Jay Hooker teamed with country singer Pearl to launch a chain of restaurants bearing her name. Initially a success, there were nearly 500 locations at one point. However, the lack of a cohesive menu or recipes sabotaged the food, and the whole franchise fell apart within a few years. Pinterest 11. The All-American Burger The All-American Burger is one of my favorite old restaurant chains and was never more than a regional fast-food joint. However, it became famous when it was featured in the hit 80s teen film Fast Time at Ridgemont High. The final location closed in 2010. This one reminds me of Burger Chef, another unfortunate defunct restaurant chain. YouTube 12. White Tower The first White Castle opened in 1921 and became the first popular fast-food chain. As is prone to happen in business, numerous imitators quickly opened. One of these knockoffs was known as White Tower. Opened by John E. Saxe and his son, Thomas, White Tower copied White Castle’s menu, style, advertising, and even architecture. At its height, there were 230 White Towers, but the chain died after legal action from White Castle forced them to make significant changes, yet a defunct restaurant chain. Kansas Historical Society 13. Chi-Chi's Chi-Chi’s was launched in the 1970s by Marno McDermitt and NFL star Max McGee. The chain quickly grew, introducing a rudimentary menu of Mexican-style food to many American towns. However, as the popularity and variety of Mexican restaurants grew, Chi-Chi’s began to die out. The death knell for the franchise came in 2003 when a Hepatitis outbreak in the food supply led to three customer deaths. Chi-Chi's Another Closed Resturant Chain 14. Lum's Brothers Clifford and Stuart Pearlman launched Lum’s in Florida in 1971. The chain’s “beer-steamed” hot dogs and distinctive glass-doored storefronts made it popular enough to support 400 locations at one point. The Pearlmans eventually sold the chain to KFC for $4 million. The brand was eventually phased out, with the final Lum’s closing in 2009. PBase.com 15. Steak and Ale Steak and Ale was ahead of its time. Much like Chi-Chi’s, it introduced a whole concept — cheap steak and a salad bar — to the American marketplace. The concept was an immense success, however, the chain fell victim to its own success. Others took the model and improved upon it, leaving Steak and Ale in the dust. The chain’s final locations closed in the early 2010s. This is a classic example of defunct restaurant chains... defunct restaurant chains Credits: definition.org Share this story on Facebook with your friends. Are there any old restaurant chains we missed? Let us know!