10 Restaurant Chains That Flopped


Kenny Rogers Roasters

Kenny Rogers Roasters, a chain that the singer started with pal and former KFC mogul John Y. Brown in 1991, probably became most renowned as a plot device in a 1996 "Seinfeld" episode, in which the eccentric Kramer hangs a "Bad Chicken" banner outside his apartment to protest the restaurant's sleep-depriving neon sign. By show's end, the character drops his complaints when he becomes addicted to KRR's rotisserie chicken [source: Jacobs]. In real life, Kenny Rogers got good reviews for its cuisine, but the chain found it tough going in a market crowded with competitors. It went bankrupt in 1998 and eventually was sold to Nathan's, the hot dog stand chain, according to news reports. Today, only one U.S. outlet remains in Ontario, Calif. Oddly, however, the brand, which is now owned by a Malaysian company, is going great guns in Asia, with at least 100 franchises [source: KRR]. In a 2008 interview with the Raleigh News-Observer, the country crooner lamented the chain's domestic demise. "You know, we had those little corn muffins that actually had corn in them," he said. "I miss that."

Related HowStuffWorks Lists


  • "About Us." Whitecastle.com. Undated. http://www.whitecastle.com/_pages/about.asp
  • Associated Press. "Company News: Sambo's to Alter Northeast Name." New York Times. March 11, 1981. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/11/business/company-news-sambo-s-to-alter-northeast-names.html
  • Bannerman, Helen. "The Story of Little Black Sambo." Filiquarian Publishing. 2007. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=59uM4eQbxTkC&dq=little+black+sambo&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Bennett, Julie. "What really happened to Minnie Pearl Chicken?" Franchise Times. June-July 2007. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.franchisetimes.com/content/story.php?article=00401
  • Carey, Bill. "Failed Fortunes." Nashville Scene. Sept. 28, 2000. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.nashvillescene.com/2000-09-28/news/failed-fortunes/
  • Chesto, Jon. " "Fading HoJo's chain may get new knight in shining armor." Quincy Patriot Ledger. July 18, 2009. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.patriotledger.com/business/x767444697/MASS-MARKET-Fading-HoJo-s-chain-may-get-new-knight-in-shining-armor
  • Doup, Liz. "Hot dog! We're on the hunt for the Lum's sign." Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. July 6, 2009. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/specials/weirdflorida/blog/2009/07/hot_dog_were_on_the_hunt_for_t.html
  • Dow Jones News. "Nathan's deal heats up in Kenny Rogers buyout." Newsday. Feb. 23, 1999.
  • "Era ends as state's final HoJos changes its name." Associated Press. April 6, 2007.
  • "Fast Food Restaurants." Wisconsin Historical Society. Undated. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/archstories/restaurants/fast_food.asp
  • Fletcher, Dorothy. "Howard Johnson's was the place for cool refreshments." Florida Times-Union. March 19, 2008.
  • Gibbens, Robert. "Imasco unit to buy Burger Chef for $44 million (U.S.)." The Globe and Mail. Dec. 10, 1981.
  • Gino's Hamburgers at Marlton N.J. Opening Ad, Evesham Township News. Feb.3, 1969. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://jsf1.homestead.com/MarltonGinos.html
  • Grimes, William. "Norman Brinker, Casual Dining Innovator, Dies at 78." New York Times. June 10, 2009. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/business/10brinker.html
  • Hill, Gerald. "Santa Barbara and the Central Coast, 3rd: California's Riviera." Globe Pequot. 2004. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=-vwgJWh6zHIC&dq=sambo%27s+restaurant&lr=&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Hogan, David Gerard. "Selling'em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food." NYU Press. 1999. (Oct. 19, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=PT6s4ZbznHMC&dq=white+castle+white+tower+lawsuit&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Hooker, John Jay. "Refried Chicken." Nashville Scene. Oct. 5, 2000. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.nashvillescene.com/2000-10-05/news/re-fried-chicken/1
  • "Howard Johnson history." Wyndamworldwide.com. Undated. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://hotelfranchise.wyndhamworldwide.com/our_brands/howardjohnson/history.cfm
  • "Howard Johnson's restaurants down to three." UPI. Jan. 24, 2007. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.hotelnewsresource.com/HNR-detail-sid-25934.html
  • Hurley, Andrew. "Diners, bowling alleys, and trailer parks: chasing the American dream in the postwar consumer culture." Basic Books. 2002. (Oct. 16 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=wHodzhpjq6kC&pg=PA99&dq=%22Burger+chef%22#v=onepage&q=%22Burger%20chef%22&f=false
  • Jakle, John A. and Sculle,, Keith A. "Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age." JHU Press. 2002. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=0nYcgnWKWXgC&pg=PA119&dq=%22Burger+chef%22&lr=#v=onepage&q=%22Burger%20chef%22&f=false
  • Jacobs, A.J. "Mr. Rogers' Rotisserie." Entertainment Weekly. Dec. 20, 1996. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,295480,00.html
  • Kearney, Mary Kate. "The Propriety of Poetry in Judicial Decisions." Widener Law Journal. Vol. 12, No. 3. 2003. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/kearney.html
  • Kenny Rogers Roasters corporate web site. Undated. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.kennyrogers.cc/
  • Knight, Jerry. "Marriott Corp. Makes Bid for Ginos." Washington Post. Jan. 5, 1982.
  • Knox, Robert. "A scoop of history with HoJo's site." Boston Globe. July 2, 2009. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2009/07/02/quincy_buys_howard_johnson8217s_site_off_i_93/
  • Leonard, Kim and Spatter, Sam. "Mexican chain closes for good." Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Sept. 22, 2004. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_253745.html
  • Lockyer, Sarah E. "Chi-Chi's shuts all units." Nation's Restaurant News, Oct. 4, 2004. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_40_38/ai_n6232955/
  • McCracken, Jeffrey and Adamy, Janet. "Dining Chains Shut Doors." Wall Street Journal. July 30, 2008. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121734771456393641.html
  • Merwin, Hugh. "Under an Orange Awning, a Piece of Burger History." Gothamist. July 30, 2008. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://gothamist.com/2008/07/30/under_an_orange_awning_burger_histo.php
  • "Peppiatt, Francesca. "Country Music's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Cheatin' Hearts, Honky-Tonk Tragedies, and Music City Oddities." Brassey's. 2004. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=fcfrxsHHg_wC&pg=PA226&lpg=PA226&dq=%22Minnie+Pearl+Chicken%22&source=bl&ots=lGuNQhqBSr&sig=M1CQ5fyxN4gjyDQjxgxY8jpeWuE&hl=en&ei=seDXSrm7BY66lAfL0YSiAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CBUQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=%22Minnie%20Pearl%20Chicken%22&f=false
  • "Perlman dead-founded Lums, built Ceasars." Nation's Restaurant News. Jan. 18, 1988. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_n3_v22/ai_6313631/
  • Pujol, Rolando. "Howard Johnson's may be toast in Times Square, but is still frying clams up in Lake George." Urbanite. July 20, 2008. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://blogs.trb.com/entertainment/urbanite/blog/2008/07/howard_johnsons_alive_and_well_in_lake_george.html
  • Reindl, JC. "Deal: First Ohio White Tower, take-out only, $1." Toledo Blade. June 30, 2008. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080630/NEWS16/290876795
  • Rasmussen, Frederick N. "Theodore Marks, 91.' Baltimore Sun. May 20, 2000.
  • Rzucidlo, Jason. "All Steak and Ale Restaurants Nationwide Disappear Abruptly Including Two in Metro Detroit." Americajr.com. Aug. 6, 2008. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://americajr.com/news/steakandaleclosed0804.html
  • Sanders, Scott Russell and Thomas, Frank P. "Burger Chef: Images of America." Arcadia Publishing. 2009. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=w2S6lzwHOkoC&dq=%22Burger+chef%22+%22fun+meal%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Salmon, Jacqueline L. "Springfield Seeks End to Eyesore." Washington Post. Aug. 16, 2007. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/15/AR2007081500872.html
  • Smith, Lee. "Showdown in Atlantic City." Fortune. Dec. 29, 1980.
  • Theodore, Larissa. "Beaver County, Pa., residents sue restaurant chain for hepatitis outbreak." Beaver County Times. Dec. 17, 2004.
  • Tagliabue, John. "Germany's Wienerwald files for reorganization." New York Times. Aug. 28, 1982.
  • Voorhees, Don. "Why Do Donuts Have Holes? Fascinating Facts About What We Eat and Drink." Citadel Press. 2004 (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=9h7fcZFYWVcC&dq=rustlers+steakhouse&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Waller, Nikki. "Last Lums Standing." Miami Herald. April10, 2005.
  • "White Castle." Practically Edible. Undated. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://www.practicallyedible.com/edible.nsf/Pages/whitecastle
  • Wilbur, Todd. "Top secret restaurant recipes: creating kitchen clones from America's favorite restaurant chains." Penguin Group. 1997. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=QIqX1aUOVA8C&pg=PA88&dq=chi-chis+mcdermott#v=onepage&q=chi-chis%20mcdermott&f=false
  • Wiser, Paige. "Unchained memories: Death of franchise stirs thoughts of Chi-Chi's, Shoney's." Chicago Sun Times. Aug. 3, 2008.
  • Wong, Jan. "Kenny Rogers loses his chicken but keeps on tickin." Globe and Mail. March 4, 2000.
  • Young, A.S. (Doc). "In Business of Parlaying Fame into Capital Gains," Ebony, Dec. 1970. (Oct. 16, 2009) http://books.google.com/books?id=ztoDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA109&dq=stargell+%22All+Pro+Chicken%22#v=onepage&q=stargell%20%22All%20Pro%20Chicken%22&f=false


Is Small Business Saturday Good for Small Businesses?

Is Small Business Saturday Good for Small Businesses?

HowStuffWorks explains what Small Business Saturday is and whether it really helps small businesses.