If you’re a McDonald’s or Burger King fan, then you can exhale and relax because you won’t find either of them on this list. However, if your burger preferences land elsewhere among the many restaurant chains out there, you may want to sit down before continuing. They say that all good things must come to an end, and it just might be the case with these 10 Popular Burger Chains That Might Not Be Around Much Longer.
10. Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers seems to be a big believer in the old adage that “variety is the spice of life.” They serve up a wide selection of fried chicken and roast beef, as well as burgers. This multiple option strategy worked well for years, and at its peak, the chain had over 600 restaurants operating. However, today there are less than 50! Roy Rogers has tried to revitalize the brand over the last few years to appeal to a younger demographic, but it obviously doesn’t seem to be working. There was also a failed attempt by the Hardee’s Burger chain to purchase them and turn the locations into Hardee’s restaurants. The world pandemic has also hit Roy Rogers harder than some other burger places. A big selling feature of the chain has always been their Fixin’s bar, which allows customers to top their own burgers with a whole host of awesome options. However, in times like these, buffets of any kind are obviously a big no-no, which takes away one of the big differentiators that Roy Rogers had going for it. They are still hanging in there as we enter 2021, but unless something changes soon, the downward trend could continue until there aren’t any more Roy Rogers restaurants left at all. So, enjoy it while it lasts.
9. Steak N’ Shake
Steak N’ Shake might be – as it says on their signs – “famous for their steakburger,” but in the coming years, they could just become famous for being the place that once served steakburgers but closed down. We know there are many Steak N’ Shake lovers out there, and for your sake, we just want to say there is hope. According to the chain’s parent company, they have no plans of folding just yet. What they do have are plans to introduce new milkshake machines and work on improving the speed of their service. They’re also moving away from the dine-in experience to focus on take-out and drive-thru. The pandemic hit them hard, and while this is one step in the right direction, it’s one they definitely should have taken sooner. Steak n’ Shake opened up their first restaurant in 1934, so they aren’t new to the burger business by any means; they know their way around. While these times have been difficult for them, the chain was already suffering even beforehand. By 2019, they had closed 100 locations, and in the last year alone, another 50 have been shuttered. So, while you don’t need to rush out today, if you are one of the many steakburger and milkshake fans out there, you will want to visit your local Steak n’ Shake sooner rather than later, and savor every last sip and bite, just in case that next visit turns out to be your last.
Unless you live in Orlando or plan to visit, you may never be able to enjoy a Fuddruckers burger again. While things weren’t all rainbows and butterflies heading into 2020, the pandemic escalated the chain’s problems ten fold. While most restaurants felt the recent strain, Fuddruckers saw its sales drop drastically. So much so that it has us wondering how they’re even still around at all. The truth is, they are hanging on by a thread. In May of 2020, there were only 40 restaurants left. Then, this past fall, the restaurant’s parent company, Luby’s Inc., announced plans to liquidate their assets – including the remaining Fuddrucker locations. They had already started releasing the franchises to the respective franchise owners, and a few locations plan on going forward with local ownership – this includes the three Orlando, Florida locations. So, while the final nail isn’t in the coffin just yet, the hammer is right there, and no one would be surprised to see it slam that coffin shut in a not so distant future. So, go get your Fudd on now while you still can.
7. The Habit Burger Grill
If you have made a habit of eating burgers at The Habit Burger Grill, well, we hate to tell you this, but you might have to change up your routine in the near future. The chain, which got its start back in 1969, had a good run for a few decades and is currently owned by YUM! Brands – a large Asian conglomerate. They’re known for their “charburger” made with “perfectly seasoned” beef and their California-grown produce. The sign of problems were there back in 2019 when, in August of that year, they closed all three of their locations in Orlando, Florida. The Grill’s President and CEO released a statement at the time, saying in part that “it was a difficult decision make, and that the teams did an amazing job running the restaurants”. The statement ended with a thank you to all of the guests who supported the restaurant over the last few years. At the time, people were told it was just a reflection on the restaurants’ recent poor performance, not a statement foreshadowing the end of things for the entire chain! But then, last spring, the company announced even more closures. However, the disappearance of The Habit Burger Grill isn’t a done deal yet. There are still some locations up and running, and if those can survive the current situation, there is a chance that the company could turn things around and maintain a presence in the burger realm.
6. TGI Fridays
Until the world moves on to a workweek consisting of 4 days and Thursday becomes the last day at the office, we will all continue to thank God every time Friday comes around. However, if you liked celebrating that awesome end-of-the-week moment with a meal at TGI Fridays, that is an opportunity you might not have for much longer. It wasn’t that long ago that TGI Fridays was actually a pretty popular restaurant chain. But, that popularity appears to be waning, and as such, the chain has had to close 100 of its restaurants in just the last couple of years. They shuttered 20 locations in 2019, and in 2020 – with help from the pandemic – they closed 70 more. It seems like the cool kids of today just aren’t digging what TGI Fridays is offering any more, and that enjoying games and happy hour is no longer the in thing. The chain definitely has some work to do if it plans on emerging from the other side and grow going forward – as opposed to disappearing completely within the next 5-10 years (which could happen). But regardless of what happens to TGI Fridays in the future, we will always be thankful for their inspiration in the film Office Space as the flair-obsessed restaurant where Jennifer Anniston works, Chotchkie’s.
5. Red Robin
Red Robin began as a single restaurant in Seattle, Washington, back in the 1960s. They eventually expanded to feature over 500 outlets. making for millions of happy burger lovers. It became a reliable burger chain known for its gourmet burgers and bottomless steak fries. The chain continued to see strong revenues into the 2000s, but things have kind of been on the decline recently. There are a few reasons for the decline, including the fact that many Red Robin restaurants are located in malls, and fewer and fewer people are going to malls these days. In 2018, the company reported losses of over $10 million, and in April of 2020, as an epidemic became a pandemic, the company announced the closure of over 30 locations. A little over a month later, the chain reported an almost 50% decrease in sales as compared to the same week the previous year. It isn’t all bad news, though. According to recent reports, in the last half of 2020, Red Robin saw an increase in sales equaling about 84% of their pre-pandemic numbers. That’s definitely good news for fans of the chain, and it does seem to indicate that Red Robin should be able to make it through these hard times. The question is, will they be able to revamp themselves afterward in order to continue to see sales growth, or is the downward trend of the last few years a sign that the restaurant’s days are numbered? Guess we will have to wait and see.
This one is definitely going to be a shock to a lot of people. This burger chain has a large following of very dedicated whatalovers, and the thought of seeing it close down will make them all very sad. But in order not to toy with your emotions too much, let us say that we don’t think Whataburger is shutting down. But, having said that, the economic issues the chain is facing do appear to be real, and with that in mind, we do have to accept the possibility that most Whataburgers could go away. This fear comes about from recent cuts the company has had to make. In April, during the first couple months of the pandemic, Whataburger announced that it was laying off a number of employees at the corporate office – as well as furloughing others. That, on its surface, isn’t too concerning considering how the pandemic affected pretty much everyone and every business. But then we got to June, and as Whataburger was starting to reopen their dining rooms, once again, the company had a round of corporate office layoffs. Obviously, this isn’t great news (especially for the folks who were let go), but on the plus side, they were only corporate office layoffs and not restaurant closures. The latter of which is usually much more indicative of a chain’s slow descent towards not being around much longer.
3. Cheeseburger in Paradise
For the other burger joints on the list, we have been able to provide you with, at least, a little warning so that you have some time to get to the restaurant and grab a burger before the restaurant possibly bites the dust. However, for all you Cheeseburger in Paradise lovers out there, we’re very sorry, but we have to be the bearers of bad news and tell you that they are already gone. In case you missed it – with everything going on in the world over the last many months – the Cheeseburger in Paradise chain closed its last location back in September of 2020. The final closure came only 18 years after the chain first launched back in 2002. At its peak, there were 38 Cheeseburger in Paradise locations across 17 different states. And while those numbers don’t compare to the other chains on this list, this niche joint definitely had its fans – including, of course, singer Jimmy Buffet, who launched the restaurant back in 2002 along with some partners. As disappointing as it might be for some, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. As of 2018, they had closed down all but three of their locations. The writing had been on the tropical-themed wall for a while. For those who are truly hurt by this news… we know it isn’t the same, but maybe you can recreate the feeling by throwing on a Hawaiian shirt, some flip flops, and eating a homemade burger on your ratan deck chair. While streaming your Jimmy Buffet Spotify playlist, of course.
Wendy’s is going away? No, say it ain’t so! Well, before you go all Jerry McGuire and “freak out” over this one, let us say that Wendy’s isn’t going away. But it is going away in some places. NPC International Inc is the parent company of over 400 Wendy’s franchises, and back in June, it was more than $800 Million in debt and was talking about filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Obviously, that wasn’t good news for certain Wendy’s outlets. However, it should also be pointed out that the company also owns 1,200 Pizza Hut restaurants, so the closures that came – and are coming – aren’t all Wendy’s. But the home of the Baconator did suffer some losses and could see more coming soon. Again, having said that, we see no reason to think that the entire chain will be going away any time soon – if ever. Wendy’s is one of the fast-food giants, and the recent launch of a whole new breakfast menu is doing so well for them. So, while some of us will have to walk further or drive longer to get our square burger, we should be able to get one for many years to come!
Friendly’s has been “creating memories since 1935,” but the restaurant itself might be nothing more than a memory in the near future. The once-popular chain has been struggling over the last few years, and while they had been working on a revamp to reinvigorate their business, the pandemic put a major strain on those plans. The CEO of the restaurant’s parent company acknowledged that over the last two years, Friendly’s has made important strides toward reinvigorating their beloved brand in the face of shifting demographics, increased competition, and rising costs… Unfortunately, like many restaurant businesses, progress was suddenly interrupted by the catastrophic impact of the current pandemic. With that as the backdrop, Friendly’s declared bankruptcy in November of 2020 and reached an agreement to be sold to Amici Partnership Group for what sounds like the crazy low price of just under $2 Million. Over the last 10 years, the chain has seen the closure of most of its locations. There are currently only 130 restaurants left – that is down from a high of over 500. Now, we will say that the company released a statement saying that “nearly all” of their remaining 130 locations will stay open. However, while we understand that is what they are hoping for, the current economic climate and ever-changing restaurant industry might just be too much for them to handle or come back from. They had a good run, but Friendly’s just might be nearing the end of the race.