With everything that happened in the last year, a lot of things have changed. We’ve had to say goodbye to many businesses, and that includes some of our favorite restaurants. While we still hope our current faves will never meet that fate, nothing is certain. Here are 10 Fast Food Chains That Are Struggling To Stay In Business!!! (Part 3).
For the longest time, when you were looking for the world’s greatest hamburger, Fuddruckers was the place to go. Founded in the late 1970s, Fuddruckers has been able to get this far in the fast-food world thanks to its obsession with quality ingredients and impeccable service. Everything is grilled to order, natural, and delicious – it sure sounds like a recipe for success. And even though for a while there, it looked like the chain could climb to the top ranks, the last few years haven’t been the most favorable. Fuddruckers has always been determined to make burgers better than anybody else, but no matter how tasty your food is, if no one comes by, you don’t make any sales. Fuddruckers suffered a significant and important drop in foot traffic over the past decade, which has caused many locations to close down. In early 2019, the company announced that it would sell some of its corporate-owned Fuddruckers locations to franchisees to help pay its growing debt. While it did allow the chain to keep its head above the water, the numbers don’t lie. At the beginning of 2019, there were 57 Fuddruckers locations in the country, but by 2020, only about 30 of those remained. Obviously, the arrival of the pandemic didn’t help matters, and now, most of those 30 remaining locations are currently closed. Next time you drive by a Fuddrucker, jump on the opportunity, as they might not be around for very much longer.
9. Chuck E. Cheese
What’s the one place every kid dreams about, but that every adult despises? That’s right, Chuck E. Cheese’s. As the ultimate birthday location – the creme de la creme of “eatertainment” – Chuck E. Cheese, was the hotspot for kids, ever since its creation in 1977. But, once again, thanks to the global pandemic, a closed-in public place full of frantic children suddenly lost its appeal. Let’s just say birthday parties became slightly less of a priority, and at-home, private celebrations became the new norm. As the pandemic raged on, Chuck E. Cheese’s debt grew more and more each day, forcing the chain to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2020. With over 600 locations, it was the largest restaurant company to do anything like that. However, the pandemic isn’t the only thing to blame for Chuck’s problems. Turns out the debt – which added up to a whopping $1 billion dollars – dates all the way back to 2014, when the restaurant was purchased by Apollo Global Management. Ever since 2020, more than 47 locations have been closed, and to avoid losing more, the chain has been trying to redirect its operations to an off-premises strategy. Chuck E. Cheese now only offers carryout and delivery options, as well as at-home birthday packages, which include games, tableware, and goodie bags. This won’t help the chain regain all of the lost revenue, but hey, at least it’s still afloat!
8. Ruby Tuesday
Ruby Tuesday was born in 1972 based on the idea that a restaurant should offer quality ingredients served by friendly, caring people. For years, the chain was able to live up to that mantra, with over 850 locations across the country. However, that was well over ten years ago. Today, it’s a different scene. Just like every other restaurant, Ruby Tuesday was hit very hard by the pandemic, but the truth is, the chain was struggling long before. Sales have been following a downward trend for years, mostly due to a lack in popularity. The problem? Ruby Tuesday was said to suffer from a “weakness in the casual dining market” and to have “failed in its efforts to upscale in the past,” according to one business analysis. If anything, the pandemic only sped up the inevitable decline of Ruby Tuesday and gave the chain a “valid” explanation for their failure. In reality, the chain crashed and burned all on its own. Ruby Tuesday has been significantly downsizing its operations in hopes of staying in business a little longer, but even its managing partner doesn’t think it will be able to fully bounce back. In 2017, 850 locations dwindled down to roughly 400, and today, there’s a mere 270 to 300 outlets left. Out of those, at least 150 locations may have closed for good, but the final count still hasn’t been determined yet. Ruby Tuesday still isn’t ready to kick the bucket, and we sure hope it never does – what would we do without its signature unlimited salad bar?
7. California Pizza Kitchen
In the pizza world, the competition has always been fierce. California Pizza Kitchen has been able to stay in the game and stand out because of its tasty, hand-tossed, well-crafted pizza – and all of its other unique menu offerings. Historically centred on a sit-down model, California Pizza Kitchen wasn’t the best equipped to survive a complete foot traffic shutdown. Other chains have been able to keep their heads above water thanks to their delivery business, but sadly, that’s not California Pizza Kitchen’s forte. After months of struggling with sales, the chain finally admitted defeat and declared bankruptcy in the Summer of 2020. In the bankruptcy agreement, the pizza joint had to close all of its unprofitable locations, which, because of dining room closures, meant a really high number. The business was also burdened with months of unpaid rent, which most of its locations simply couldn’t pay. This resulted in a $400 million dollar debt. California Pizza Kitchen had already begun closing certain locations before the bankruptcy – notably in Texas, Alabama, and Georgia – but now there are calls for greater, permanent measures. Even though CPK will most likely bounce back in the coming years, this delicious pizza could be leaving your city for good, so don’t miss your chance!
Okay, obviously, it’s very unlikely that a giant like Starbucks will go out of business anytime soon, but it doesn’t mean that the chain hasn’t had some tough times ever since the pandemic began. What used to be a coffee shop you could find on every corner is now one that’s closing one location after the other. Due to the pandemic, over the last year the foot traffic has become almost non-existent, causing a drastic drop in sales. As people started working from home, they also started making their coffee at home, rendering Starbucks irrelevant to some. Plus, before lockdown measures, people would come in and order multiple beverages and food items to bring back to the office. But now, individual orders are being prioritized, which is why the loss in revenue seems so enormous – as much as $3.2 billion dollars in 2020, to be exact. And while Starbucks is trying to get back on its feet, it’s easier said than done. In June of last year, the chain announced that it would be closing over 400 locations in the US and 200 more in Canada over the next 18 months, but that number quickly went from 600 to 800 closures in total. On the international scene, another 250 locations would close as a result of the company’s eight-percent drop in global revenue. As one of the biggest brands in the country, Starbucks will most likely come back from this drought, but it still goes to show that even the most successful chains can find themselves in trouble sometimes.
Friendly’s, the esteemed family diner where you create lasting memories, has been struggling to stay in business for years. Famous for its delicious handcrafted ice cream, comforting entrees, and classic roadside dishes, Friendly’s used to be the chosen place to spend a “family night.” But, sadly, that hasn’t been the case ever since the chain started experiencing some financial and administrative problems. Friendly’s issues have been going on for quite some time now. It has been constantly under fire for its food quality and questionable service, but as years passed, the chain took important strides in hopes of reinvigorating its brand. It updated its menu, advertised its take-out and delivery business – the whole kit. However, it hasn’t been enough to save it completely. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the first time in 2011, and in light of the pandemic, it had to do it again – this time in 2020. No, the pandemic isn’t only to blame for the decline of Friendly’s, the growing disinterest in the chain started way before. In 2019, Friendly’s closed 23 locations, which accounted for a 25 percent decline in locations since 2018. Since then, the company has shed nearly 70% of its locations over the past decade, dropping from 507 to 130 outlets. The latest bankruptcy filing is supposed to enable Friendly’s to rebound from this unfortunate situation as a stronger business. So let’s just hope it can do so!
Denny’s – the home of the Grand Slam breakfast – has known some ups and downs over the years. However, in the last year, the downs have been a little more apparent. With this worldwide crisis affecting businesses all over, Denny’s couldn’t escape financial and staffing problems. The chain wasn’t able to fully cover the late and overnight shifts at its 1,000-plus stores, as many staff members grew worried about the pandemic. They were also concerned about how much money they would make during off-hours, wondering if it was worth the risk of jeopardizing their health. Plus, around 70 percent of locations have failed to return to all-hours dining since the beginning of the pandemic. Because of this staffing issue and low sales, Denny’s was forced to close multiple locations all over the country. In March 2020, it closed 15 locations in New York alone. With the rise in fast-casual dining competition and increased food costs, sit-down restaurants like Denny’s have a lot to figure out. The restrictions for indoor dining continue to make it difficult for Denny’s to keep its customers consistently coming and going, and it soon faced the possibility of defaulting on loans. The worse part of it all is, before all of this, Denny’s was actually thriving. Its income had tripled in the second quarter of 2019, and the sales were rising by nearly 4 percent overall. But that’s the way the cookie unfortunately crumbled for Denny’s, and hopefully, it can bounce back from this rough patch.
When you’re looking for a tasty sub, your first instinct is probably to go to Subway. Yes, Subway is one of the big players in the sub biz, but if you’ve never considered Blimpie, then maybe it’s time to do so before it’s too late. Blimpie, founded in the 1960s in Hoboken, New Jersey, was actually the nation’s first sub-sandwich chain. Even though it’s still one of the largest chains, Blimpie has been under severe financial pressure for a number of years now. Of course, that hasn’t stopped it from persevering and trying to come back from a deficit. But with growing and fierce competition, the task is not always easy. Blimpie expanded rather quickly, and by 2001, it had over 1,800 stores and nearly $300 million in sales. Maybe it was a little too quick as Blimpie began going downhill in 2002 when the chain started closing a tremendous number of locations. From 2002 to 2012, over 1500 stores had closed, and sales dropped to $115 million. As of March 2021, there are 160 Blimpies left in the United States, a drastic drop, indeed. It seems like maybe Blimpie’s heyday is behind us, and it’s slowly disappearing from the modern fast-food landscape. For now, you can still enjoy a nice Blimpie sandwich, but possibly not for much longer.
2. Red Lobster
As much as Red Lobster used to be a cool and friendly hang-out spot, its reputation has been going down the drain for a number of years. Ever since 2013, there have been talks about how the chain might go under, but now, it might be closer than ever. Red Lobster had its credit rating downgraded early in 2020, placing it in the “poor quality and high credit risk” category. And since that clearly wasn’t enough, the chain has also faced tremendous difficulties as a result of the pandemic. Its dine-in model isn’t the most appropriate for our current lifestyle, and its seafood-only offering makes it a tougher pick for the remaining loyal customers. Now operating over 700 locations nationwide, the chain has been considering closing some of its less popular restaurants, but still hopes that mass shutdowns won’t be needed. The famous seafood outlet will also need to repay a whopping $355 million dollar loan in the summer of 2021, which will undoubtedly affect its stability. Even though Red Lobster seems to be holding its own for now, it’s been declared as “one to watch” by Restaurant Business as one of the restaurants that may be going bankrupt next. If you wanted to get one final under-the-sea treat from Red Lobster, you better hurry, just in case!
Here’s another big chain that probably won’t shut down completely, but has still hit a few bumps in the road here and there. Indeed, getting your daily cup of joe at your local Dunkin’s might be a little more complicated than before, as more locations are closing all over the country. At the beginning of the pandemic, sales declined nearly 20 percent as the outbreak first took hold. However, Dunkin was partly able to get back on its feet, thanks to its very useful drive-thru system. Even though this coffee haven hasn’t seen the biggest deficit in sales compared to other chains on this list, Dunkin’ has still seen a significant drop. As a result of decreased traffic, some Dunkin’ locations just didn’t make sense anymore – like on college campuses or at sports venues, for instance. To prevent losing any more money than necessary and to ensure strong, profitable future growth, it decided to act quickly and permanently close over 800 locations in 2020, a little over 8% of its U.S store total. These closures included 450 Dunkin’ counters in Speedway gas stations, in order to help the company focus on the chain’s independent locations. But, chances are, Dunkin’ will not fall into oblivion and will keep serving hot, delicious coffee for years to come. Maybe, knock on some wood… just in case!