Once upon a time, Fast Food restaurants were the kings of the world. While the likes of McDonald’s, Starbucks and Dominoes continue to thrive in all types of economical weather, a lot of fast-food chains are taking a serious hit and are even starting to close restaurants down. With the rise of Chipotle, Panera Bread and other fast-casual restaurants, the ‘old fashioned’ fast food restaurant could well be on it’s way out. Here are 10 Fast Food Chains That Are Struggling To Stay In Business. Let’s hope your favorites aren’t on this list.
10. Taco Bell
It may be hard to believe but this Mexican inspired US fast-food chain is in a bit of trouble. While taco Bell still has a large number of restaurants across the country, as well as few international ones, they are closing stores at quite a rate. Founded in California by Glen Bell, Taco Bell has been a staple for many taco and burrito fans for decades. While the restaurant chain did see a big increase in popularity in the ’80s and ’90s, especially when it introduced a lot more healthier options on their menus such as taco salads. However, the years after that haven’t been too kind on Taco Bell and recently they have had to close a few of its restaurants. In particular around the Maine and Pennsylvania areas. It’s not just Tach Bell that is starting to feel the heat, YUM!, which is the company that owns Taco Bell as well as Pizza Hut and KFC, are also on the decline. Many Pizza Hut and KFC restaurants are also seeing a big drop in popularity and revenue. Hopefully YUM! can weather the storm as we’d hate to permanently lose any of this fast food big hitters.
9. Jack In The Box
While we go through our list of fast-food chains that are struggling, it must be noted that Jack In The Box has been through a lot since it burst onto the scene in the 1950s and it is still standing strong. Well, almost. Jack In The Box has been a favorite of many people who love a good burger and tacos, however, over the years a lot of scandals have surrounded this much loved fast-food chain. In the 1980s Jack In The Box got into trouble for accidentally shipping horse meat that was labeled as beef. Although this was at the fault of the supplier, Jack In The Box took a while to recover from this. Then there were the 90s which brought more bad news for this burger chain as an outbreak of food poisoning caused hundreds of customers to be sick, with fatal results for four people. After all of that, Jack In The box managed to survive when lesser restaurants would have sunk without a trace. However, in recent years Jack In The Box has tried to push forward and expand its restaurants outside of it’s West Coast home turf. This hasn’t gone too well for them and has left the company a bit thin. While they did manage to open several new restaurants, they have also had to close some. The competition is fierce within the burger trade and this might be one step too far for Jack In The Box.
8. Sonic Drive-In
The fast-food and restaurant business is cut-throat and full of competition. One of the best ways to stay in business is to change and evolve with the current climate. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Sonic Drive-In and could be one of the reasons the burger chain is struggling so much. While there are many Sonic lovers out there, us included, it has to be said that the Sonics’ model is something from a bygone era in which people would pull up to a Drive-In and waitress in skates would serve you a burger and fries. It’s like something out of an old musical. We half expect John Travolta and his T-Birds to pull up and start singing about Grease Lightning. This is one of the problems that Sonic Drive-In’s face, they haven’t really ever escaped that imaged and moved with the times. While a lot of people these days are concerned about the planet, Gas usage, and their health, Sonic’s still insist on having drive-ins and serving greasy food with over sugary drinks. And then, of course, there is the competition. Sonic struggles against bigger companies such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, which just adds to their problems. In recent years Sonic has tried to take steps to rectify this; by appealing to the younger consumer and using ordering apps, as well as marketing their commercials towards women. Even with these new changes in their works, the future doesn’t look too bright for Sonic Drive-In and their style of fast food.
There are many things that can make a fast-food chain fail; it can be the bad quality of the food, the lack of brand awareness or it can even sometimes be all down to bad luck. However, there is one thing that will sink your restaurant time and again and that’s competition. Not just competition, which can sometimes be healthy for business, but a competitor that does pretty much what you do but bigger, better and a lot more famously. Subways is one giant reason that Quiznos is struggling to hold it’s own in the fast-food world. A few decades ago Quiznos actually managed to stay pretty close to Subways within the market. Quiznos offered great ingredients for their subs and at cheap prices and they also did something that no one else did at the time, they toasted their bread. It seems an odd thing now but not even Subways did that back then. Soon however Subways got the jump on Quiznos when they introduced toasting ovens into every restaurant and then gave us their infamous 5 dollar footlong, which blew the sub sandwich competition out of the water. Quiznos struggled to keep up after that and with the rise in popularity of other sandwich joints; such as Jersey Mikes and Firehouse Subs, as well as the continued success of Subway, Quiznos is having a tough time and it doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.
6. Steak ‘n’ Shake
Originally this Illinois born fast-casual restaurant chain was actually a gas station that also served chicken and beer. Until creator Gus Belt decided on a different direction and converted it into a burger hut. Since then Steak ‘n’ Shake has built an empire on handcrafted cuts of steak that make for one amazing burger, as well as their legendary cherry shacks. Not too long ago Steak ‘n’ Shake was one of the few casual restaurant chains that were continually making a profit and they proudly boasted to seeling multimillions of their burgers and shacks each year. Now the chain is in trouble as profits are down and many of their restaurants have been closed. The CEO has gone on record to say that the closures are only temporary, but closures of any kind are never a good sign. With shutting down many restaurants, Steak ‘n’ Shake could struggle to get their customers back through the door, if they reopen them that is. Another money-saving device that Steak ‘n’ Shake is thinking about is cutting the cherries out of their much-loved shacks. While this could save them up to a million dollars a year, they could end up losing a lot more than that if customers don’t like it. After all, we all love a cherry on top, don’t we?
5. Boston Market
During the 1990’s Boston Market had huge growth and a big rise in popularity. Starting out in a suburb of, you guessed it, Boston, Boston Market had a simple idea and that was to produce great tasting rotisserie chicken and easy sides. Originally called Boston Chicken, the restaurant chain exploded as families rushed out to get some tasty chicken. Their brand grew and grew, especially once they renamed themselves Boston Market, and with a claim to be rotisserie chicken experts, restaurants opened up all over the place and families everywhere were happy. Unfortunately by the end of the 90’s many restaurants, as well as grocery stores, were producing cheap and tasty rotisserie chickens which took its toll on Boston Market. So much so that by the end of the decade they had filled for bankruptcy. Not wanting to be beaten just yet, Boston Market put their faith in fast food giants McDonald’s as the Golden Arches bought them. Unfortunately for Boston Market, Ronald McDonald and co couldn’t do much to change their fate and after a few years sold them on. With new owners and a new lust for change, Boston Market is trying to stay in the restaurant business but they are hanging on by a thread as more and more of their branches are closing. Including the last ones in Boston, for which this chain gets its name from. That can’t be good.
There may be a lot of people that have never had the pleasure of eating at a Krystal’s, which is surprising as Krystal has been serving its signature burgers for over 80 years. Sticking primarily to the south of the country, Krystal has hundreds of locations in places like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas but never really broke the north. Many believe that this is because of the similarities between Krystal and White Castle. After all, Krystal did take inspiration from White Castle when they started out, in particular, the small, square burgers. While Krystal may be a lesser-known burger joint in the north, in the south it has been a huge fast-food chain and a lot of people’s favorite burger place. Even so, with the nationwide popularity of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, Krystal has struggled to keep up and this trend is continuing. Another factor in the fall of Krystal is that the restaurants themselves aren’t very well maintained. Most of them are over 30 years old and the company struggles to keep them clean. There are plans to demolish some of the outlets and give the Krystal brand a much needed revamp, but it could be too little too late for the burger joint that was once Elvis’s favorite fast-food restaurant. The King would often chow down on Krystal burgers after recording. Let’s hope this isn’t the end of the road for the much loved Krystal.
3. The Cheesecake Factory
Starting out in California in the late 1970s, The Cheesecake Factory had big success with its restaurants as it not only expanded across the country but it went global with restaurants opening up in different countries. Closely associated with malls and shopping outlets, which is where a lot of their restaurants are, The Cheesecake Factory rode the waves of the popular teen hangout spots in the 80s and 90s. However, the locations could be one reason for their downfall. Givin the big decline in people, more importantly, families, spending the day in the mall, The Cheesecake Factory has seen a dramatic dip in sales and revenue. Then, of course, there is the menu. While The Cheesecake Factory never claimed to be healthy, in the health-conscious age we live in, less and less people want to indulge in the high calory food that The Cheesecake Factory offers. Another reason for The Cheesecake Factory’s decline is the prices. While it’s not your typical fast-food restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory does fall under that umbrella and the prices don’t match that. With a huge menu and high prices, The Cheesecake Factory can feel like fine dining instead of fast food dining and the numbers are starting to show that as The Cheesecake Factory is closing many restaurants around the country. Not even having Penny from The Big Bang Theory work at The Cheesecake Factory has helped to get customers through the doors.
2. TGI Fridays
While the dining experience is ever-changing, it can be hard for some restaurant chains to keep up. Fast food is dominated by market leaders such as McDonald’s, which continues to adapt and evolve and high-end dining is getting, well, more high end. Other restaurants are turning to more innovative foods and concepts in order to attract the millennial market. But there is, however, one area of dining that is on the verge of being extinct. Casual dining. We’ve mentioned on our list of fast-food chains that are struggling the likes of The Cheesecake Factory and Boston Market, and now it’s time for TGI Fridays. These once pillars of the casual dining subculture are struggling to find their place in today’s society and the future could get even darker form them. Originally started as a singles bar, TGI Fridays became the place to be to start your weekend off with great food and better drinks. However, over the years TGI Fridays has struggled to change with the world and the shift in restaurant culture and is therefore taken some big hits over the years. Not going down without a fight, TGI Fridays is rebranding itself more towards the gastro-pub culture as it hopes to come back for the new decade. We all still look forward to Fridays so we hope this once restaurant icon will come back stronger than ever.
1. Tim Hortons
So far, all of our fast-food chains on this list have been US-based restaurants. That’s all about to change with our next entry. Named after Ice Hockey player Tim Horton, the Canadian coffee and donut shop is the largest quick-service restaurant chain in Canada. Continuing to beat off rivals Starbucks and McDonald’s north of the border, as well as being most Canadians favorite coffee. In the US, however, Tim Hortons has struggled. Starting to cross the border in the 1980s, Tim Hortons had some moderate success, particularly in states such as New York, so they pushed forward with their expansion plans. Unfortunately for this Canadian staple, local fast-food chains such as Dukin’ Donuts proved too much competition for them and Tim Hortons had to close some of their branches at quite a raite. In 2014 Burger King bought Tim Hortons and that seemed to jump-start the brand in the US, however, sales have declined once again and franchises have dropped. While Tim Hortons remains number one in Canada for a lot of people, they could be saying bye-bye to the US sooner than they’d like.