The last few links in the chain.
January 17, 2010 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about chain restaurants still operating near you that had been successful in the distant past, but where there's now only a few remaining restaurants nationwide.

My wife and I sometimes enjoy going to restaurants that have failed to keep up with the times as something of a nostalgic, anachronistic or kitschy experience.

While there are any number of interesting or anachronistic independent restaurants in any given city, visiting a restaurant that had been part of a chain or franchise that has failed and since become just a handful of surviving restaurants can be an interesting experience.

Some examples: Tad's Steaks, Casa Bonita, Lum's, Gulliver's Steakhouse, or Rax Roast Beef. Shakey's was like this just a few years ago, but seems to be coming back. Sometimes, there were regional chains such as Barnaby's or Bishop's Buffet that have since scaled back dramatically.

Let me know, thanks!
posted by eschatfische to Food & Drink (90 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sambo's Restaurant.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:26 PM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Roy Rogers.
posted by cabingirl at 7:28 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had no idea Sambo's still had a store open. Wow.
posted by cabingirl at 7:29 PM on January 17, 2010

I should say that the last remaining Sambo's isn't near me. But when I was a kid, there was one at Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast and we used to eat there when we went to the beach on vacation.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:29 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Happy Chef used to be all over the place in Iowa and Minnesota, but now I only know of a couple. Similar to Denny's/Perkins/etc.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:33 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Howard Johnson's apparently has only three restaurants left. I miss the one that was in Times Square.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:35 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Jolly Roger!. I fondly remember wearing their kid's menu as a pirate hat and little buccaneer swords through cherries in my Shirley Temple. The one at Cherokee and Hollywood Blvd. is gone, as are all the others around LA, but it looks like there are still two remaining in the country.
posted by Gucky at 7:42 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Long John Silvers
posted by royalsong at 7:45 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Tampa, Florida, has Shells (link to news article about business woes).
posted by that girl at 7:46 PM on January 17, 2010

Long John Silvers is still going strong. They've merged in with the Yum restaurants (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC) and at least in Chicago, are everywhere, usually sharing spaces with one of the other Yum chains. Taco Bell/LJS? TacoFish. KFC/LJS? ChickenFish.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:50 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

royalsong: "Long John Silvers"

Is alive and kicking, as a sister corporation to KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:50 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Druther's (formerly Burger Queen). There's one left, in Campbellsville, KY (as of 11/2009).

The Tastee Freeze's are slowly being whittled down.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:50 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think with regard to some chains, it may be a regional disappearance. I have no trouble finding a Long John Silvers or a Dairy Queen in my neck of the woods or for a radius of several hundred miles.
posted by Atreides at 7:51 PM on January 17, 2010

Burhanistan: "With 5,700 restaurants in 22 countries as of 2005, Dairy Queen is one of the largest soft serve franchises in the world", per Wikipedia. DQ's are flippin' everywhere.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:52 PM on January 17, 2010

Ponderosa used to be pretty ubiquitous, but it has almost completely disappeared from Canada and has been restructuring under Chapter 7 and 11 in the States. You can try their website to find a location near you.
posted by maudlin at 7:53 PM on January 17, 2010

I believe most Sizzlers were bought out, but I know of at least two still operating in L.A.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:56 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: There are still a few Quincy's Steakhouses/Restaurants around, and as little as a decade ago they were an 85 million dollar chain with 100+ locations. Now it doesn't even have a wikipedia article. It was perhaps most notable for it's yeast rolls, which were allegedly based on a recipe by Hardee's founder Wilbur Hardee, though I can't find the article that I read this in. Anyway, these rolls were as delicious as the legendarily hangover-busting Hardee's breakfast biscuits, and even when our local Quincy's closed, it would re-open three times a year to sell one thing: huge orders of yeast rolls. We're talking minimum dozen or two dozen roll order, called in weeks ahead of time. The three times it was open were the day's before Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and there would be hours-long lines to get yeast rolls. The manager claimed that they sold enough rolls on these three days to make their lease for the rest of the year, but after three or four years of holiday rolls sales they finally packed away the signage and sold the remaining kitchen equipment.
posted by Benjy at 7:57 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ground Round?
posted by washburn at 8:00 PM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I missed it in my initial reading, but I had no idea there were Bishop's Buffets outside of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. I always figured it was a local thing. They had the Best French Silk Pie Ever.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:01 PM on January 17, 2010

While not down to almost nothing, the idea - not keeping up with the times, dying off - makes me think immediately of the Ground Round. I went to one in CT before it closed, wow, probably close to 10 years ago now, and it seemed to run down as to be fantastically depressing. We couldn't wait to leave.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:02 PM on January 17, 2010

(actually it seems like there are still a lot of Sizzlers, according to the confusing Wikipedia article. Although they did declare bankruptcy and close a lot of them in the 90s.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:02 PM on January 17, 2010

Arctic Circle used to be a lot more widespread than they are now.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:04 PM on January 17, 2010

There might one or two Round the Corner restaurants left around Denver, but I'm not sure (I can't tell how recent this listing is). It was a Colorado-based faux-gourmet burger chain notable for your ability to place your order to the kitchen via individual red phones at the tables. (One of my high school jobs in the '80s was taking orders at the phone switchboard next to the kitchen; I still remember that the Pizza Burger was a #7, because a 7 looks like a slice of pizza.)
posted by scody at 8:06 PM on January 17, 2010

Koo Koo Roo. (Delicious chicken, but stay away from their mac and cheese.)
posted by cloudburst at 8:07 PM on January 17, 2010

Chi-Chi's. I think they are all gone in the states, but there are still some overseas. However they do sell their salsas in the supermarkets.
posted by travis08 at 8:10 PM on January 17, 2010

There's only one Jahn's left (though that one doesn't have much in the way of connection with the past.
posted by neroli at 8:10 PM on January 17, 2010

Papa Gino's seems to be doing okay, but is very, very, very localized in New England. Same too with D'Angelo's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:12 PM on January 17, 2010

I don't believe Amigo's was ever highly successful, but it had quite a few locations in the Nebraska/South Dakota/Iowa/Minnesota area. Now it is restricted to Nebraska.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 8:13 PM on January 17, 2010

Baker's Square started closing locations a few years ago in the Chicago-land area. In the glory days they used to be super accessible... now there are 3 empty shells of previous pie goodness within a 5 mile radius from where I work.
posted by simplethings at 8:13 PM on January 17, 2010

Coco's? At least they are disappeared from much of the northeast.
posted by kellyblah at 8:16 PM on January 17, 2010

Mr. Mike's is a chain of low-end steakhouses in BC and Alberta that peaked at about 70 outlets and is now down to 16 rebranded resturants. Only one of the old-style outlets is still open, in Kelowna.

Pizza Pieman used to be the primary pizza chain in Victoria, BC and the surrounding area, back as far as the '60s. There are two left.

Brownie's Fried Chicken is down to a handful of outlets, too, in BC, mostly.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 8:21 PM on January 17, 2010

Hot 'n Now was a low-end fast food restaurant that had 150 locations scattered throughout 15 states back in the early 90s. It was part of a failed push by PepsiCo to get into the burger business. Apparently, 6 of them are still operating in Michigan.
posted by TBAcceptor at 8:26 PM on January 17, 2010

Farrell's Ice Cream. They used to be all over the malls but now they seemed to only exist in Cali. and Hawaii.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:28 PM on January 17, 2010

Miami Subs. There used to be one near the University of Pittsburgh when I was playing D&D over there, and presumably many others, but no more in any great number, unless you're in Florida.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:29 PM on January 17, 2010

My Willy's used to be everywhere in the Vancouver area. There had to be at least a dozen of them, if not more. They are a big all you can eat buffet, and were great when we were kids. All you can eat dessert! Pop! Fries! Mac & cheese! Fried Chicken! Heaven to a kids tummy. I'm not sure what the adults ate, because really the food wasn't that good, but it was cheap, plentiful and usually hot.

There's only one left, and it looks like it's permanently stuck in the early 90s. Haven't been there myself since then, either. I have no idea why they're its still around, but that one solitary survivor lives on.
posted by cgg at 8:40 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: The Mister Donut Story: In 1980s they had 500+ stores and were #2 to Dunkin Donuts. Then they were bought by Dunkin. Tons are still operating overseas (especially in Japan), most became Dunkin, some formed a new chain called Donut Connection, and at least one is still Mister Donut.

Nathan's Famous seemed to be collecting these kind of chains for a while. I used to visit a restaurant in Orlando, FL that was a Miami Subs/Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips/Kenny Rogers/Nathan's under one roof. I recall that one of the quirks of this was that they sold 3 types of fries: the spicy fast food kind made by Miami Subs, the thick "chips" made by Arthur Treachers, and the crinkle kind made by Nathan's. It is now closed, but there still may be some of these quad-restaurants left. And they now added pizza for good measure.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:41 PM on January 17, 2010

Crap. My Willy's should have read Uncle Willy's. How that typo happened, i'll never know.
posted by cgg at 8:41 PM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Heh, Miami Subs just tried and failed to expand into Toronto. Toronto Life had a feature on other restaurant chains that fizzled in Canada, including Krispy Kreme and the Olive Garden.

I see Maudlin already mentioned Ponderosa.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:42 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Eau Claire, WI boasts what may be the last Chicken Unlimited.
posted by escabeche at 8:42 PM on January 17, 2010

According to this forum there were once 42 Hen House Restaurants --now it has only perhaps 6 locations (5 in central Illinois and one in Missouri). And not even a page on Wikipedia...

Also interesting is the story of Mr Donut, the popular chain that was bought out by rival Duncan Donuts. Apparently, there are today a jillion Mr Donuts in Japan, etc., but according to the redoubtable Wikipedia only one Mr. Donut store in the US that has somehow held out against changing its name--the last Mr. Donut in America, in Godfrey IL.
posted by washburn at 8:45 PM on January 17, 2010

Ah, I see Alongdecember beat me to the Mr. Donut story. Curses.
posted by washburn at 8:48 PM on January 17, 2010

I feel like a lot of Boston Markets closed around 2000, but there seems to be a re-emergence so I don't know if that counts. I like it much better than Kenny Rogers or Koo Koo Roo.
posted by buzzkillington at 9:01 PM on January 17, 2010

RAX! Oh Man...Curly Fries with effing CHEESE SAUCE! Although, the Rax in my hometown had a nasty habit of forgetting at least one item with every drive thru order.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:05 PM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Coffee People was a 40-location Portland-based chain of coffee stores (famous for their yearly hippie themed travel mugs featuring the hippie owners faces and excellent milkshakes!) They were bought out by Gloria Jean coffee, which was then bought out by Deidrich which then sold all the stores (except the PDX airport outlets) to Starbucks, which promptly closed them.

It's funny that TBAccetor mentioned Hot 'n' Now. Many of these locations in Portland became car title loan places. When car title loans were outlawed, they became Coffee People stores (pic.)
posted by vespabelle at 9:07 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems there used to be a whole lot more PoFolks Restaurants. They were best described as a Cracker Barrel that also featured fried chicken and fish. A snippet that Google can see behind a paywall says there used to be 117 in 1984. There's 7 now.

Italian Oven used to be big also (huge in Pittsburgh in the 90s, but 100+ stores in 17 states). It was a chain of italian restaurants that featured wood fired pizzas and pasta dishes. As stated in that article, the founder is trying again restart the chain (success in Pittsburgh, but failure in Florida). The fragments of the chain are scattered: Some still exist in Atlanta, or in Johnstown and DuBois, PA, Connelsville, PA, or near Harrisburg, PA. Notice all are using the same logo but are no longer part of a chain.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:08 PM on January 17, 2010

posted by brujita at 9:14 PM on January 17, 2010

While we're on the Swensen's and Farrell's kick, there was another ice cream parlor that was pretty widespread in California back in the late 80's called Leatherby's - they now seem to be down to their Sacramento location.
posted by LionIndex at 9:29 PM on January 17, 2010

Brown's Chicken used to have over 150 restaurants - now it only has around 36 or so, all in the Chicago area. (Many of them closed after the 1993 murders at a Brown's Chicken in Palatine, IL)

Big Boy restaurants used to be everywhere. Not so much anymore.

posted by SisterHavana at 9:31 PM on January 17, 2010

There's a Griff's here in Albuquerque that still serves some of the best burgers in town. Not sure about the kitsch factor, but the food's worth a try.
posted by wanderingmind at 9:37 PM on January 17, 2010

Bob's Big Boy shut down all but one or two stores a few years ago, but they are now reopening in new locations!

One opened in the Reseda/Northridge area of the Valley, and they have old cars there on Friday and Saturday nights. The service is excellent, and the food remains the same. I hope they continue their return!

Applebee's have all disappeared from their recent expansion, the nearest one to us is now over 40 miles away. Can't say I miss them, though.

And where are all the Bennigan's? Last I heard, they file bk, but South Park keeps mentioning them....
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 9:42 PM on January 17, 2010

A&W Drive-in restaurants. Never see them anymore.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:54 PM on January 17, 2010

Bennigan's shut down all of the corporate locations a couple of years ago when they filed bankruptcy, but there are still franchise-operations out there. The new owners are re-opening other locations.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:54 PM on January 17, 2010

There's two Leatherby's in the Sacramento area, and apparently, a franchise in SLC. The stores in Sacramento are owned by different members of the Leatherby family.

There's still a few Coco's in the Sacramento area. A few Sizzlers as well.


This wiki category may be of interest to you.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:55 PM on January 17, 2010

A&W can often be found in conjunction with KFC or another Yum! Brand restaurant. There's a ton around here, but that may be due to the fact that they started in Lodi.

And there are 700 A&W restaurants in Canada. They serve poutine.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:59 PM on January 17, 2010

@Ironmouth: Well, Yum! Brands, the owners of A&W Restaurants, are HQ'd here in my town, which may explain why I see A&W restaurants every day.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:59 PM on January 17, 2010

Dog n Suds drive-in at one time apparently had around 750 restaurants and is down to 16, 2 of which are in my home-town.
posted by notnamed at 10:31 PM on January 17, 2010

Kewpee's Hamburgers.
posted by theclaw at 11:25 PM on January 17, 2010

elsietheeel writes "And there are 700 A&W restaurants in Canada. They serve poutine."

No drive ins though. Are there any A&W drive ins anywhere?

Senor Froggy used to be a franchise Mexican restaurant, or so I've been told. Seems to be down to just the two Kamloops locations now.
posted by Mitheral at 11:25 PM on January 17, 2010

"Herfy's was a chain of fast food burger places in the 1960s and early '70s. Founded in Everett, Washington, Herfy's had locations scattered around the Pacific Northwest...
...there are no longer any Herfy's in Portland. Looks like there may still be a couple of Herfy's in Washington state (201 A Street S.E., Auburn, WA and 19840 Pacific Highway South, Seatac, WA). And it looks like there is a restaurant that goes by the name of Herfy's in Saudi Arabia but I'm not sure if it's the same."
posted by blueberry at 11:46 PM on January 17, 2010

In the 1970s, every British town had a Wimpy. The chain still survives, but mainly in motorway service stations and the grimmer parts of Essex. The list of Great Wimpy Moments on the company's website is rather touching. (1997: 'First chain to offer a Quorn-based product on its menus.' 1998: 'First company to win the coveted Franchisor and Franchisee of the year awards in the same year.')
posted by verstegan at 2:13 AM on January 18, 2010

In Michigan: Bill Knapp's. And the Big Boy resturants are still here, but only about 20% of what they used to be.
posted by megatherium at 2:47 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

There are still A&W drive-ins scattered around the country, though A&W's horrible website won't tell you where they are.
They've actually started making new ones, but the horrible website won't tell you where they are either.
posted by madajb at 3:09 AM on January 18, 2010

Oh Jeez, Wimpy was horrible. I remember being subjected to those when we'd visit.
"You live in America, have a hamburger, it'll make you feel at home!". Ugh.

And sort of along the lines of the original question, when I was kid, al the K-Marts had the K-Mart cafeteria inside them. Not the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell/McDonalds thing you see in stores now, but a full on cafeteria with the 3-bar tray slider and all.
posted by madajb at 3:20 AM on January 18, 2010

These exist in pockets, but are mostly gone compared to what they were:
Pancho's Mexican Buffet, where you raise the Italian flag to get more food
Pig Stand, one of the oldest franchises
Bonanza Steakhouse, also called Ponderosa Steakhouse in some places
Trader Vic's, the Tiki place which apparently is making a comeback with a whopping 25 locations globally
posted by Houstonian at 3:55 AM on January 18, 2010

It appears that the last Mr. Steak recently slipped into extinction.
posted by drlith at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2010

The Black-Eyed Pea
posted by candyland at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2010

Dog n Suds drive-in at one time apparently had around 750 restaurants and is down to 16, 2 of which are in my home-town.

They tried a come-back a few years ago, planting new stores all over the place (including one right here in Muncie.) It was the same old DnS...curb service, coney dogs, and root beer. The store here closed pretty quickly. It's now a Culver's custard stand.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are still A&W drive-ins scattered around the country, though A&W's horrible website won't tell you where they are.

There is one in Sheldon, IA. It has an updated, yet totally different menu than the version of A&W that gets paired with other fast food chains. The food seemed better in general.

I'd argue that at least in the midwest, Pizza Hut is on its way to going extinct. There used to be one in every small town, but now there are only a handful here and there in larger cities, and they are horrible.

We were also surprised on recent travels to spot a surviving Bonanza and Green Mill. Hardees restaurants are extremely hard to find these days, too.
posted by bristolcat at 6:54 AM on January 18, 2010

The only Fuddruckers left in Canada is the one in my hometown here, Saskatoon Saskatchewan.
posted by lizbunny at 7:29 AM on January 18, 2010

Golden Skillet. The wikipedia page doesn't give much reason for their decline but I guess they got killed by KFC. The funny thing is that they are a Southern chain but I only know about them because of one outlet in NJ, which was always an outlier and yet is still open and going strong. Most people up here don't even realize it's a chain.
posted by smackfu at 7:29 AM on January 18, 2010

Shakey's pizza seems to have disappeared stateside (except for the branch in Little Tokyo in downtown LA) but they're still going strong in Japan.

Woolworth's disappeared here a long time ago, but I've seen them in Germany in the past few years.

And thanks, vespabelle, for the Coffee People update.
"Great Coffee, No Backtalk"
posted by Rash at 8:14 AM on January 18, 2010

Pizza Haven was a big west coast favorite, started in 1958 and growing to over 40 locations by the mid-1980's. Offering a thicker pie and tastier sauce than the competitors, Pizza Haven had a loyal following until bankrupcy and consolidation reduced it to a still-existing single location in Seattle's Center House Pavilon.

I just had a slice there a few days ago for old time's sake. Mmmm, floor pie.
posted by Aquaman at 8:25 AM on January 18, 2010

Brighams. *sob*
posted by Melismata at 9:12 AM on January 18, 2010

German speaking Europe: WIENERWALD
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I almost forgot about The Magic Pan! It was gone by the mid-80s, but there are two locations now: one in Northbrook, IL and one in the Mall of America.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:42 AM on January 18, 2010

Mitheral:No drive ins though. Are there any A&W drive ins anywhere?

I can think of atleast two, one in north vancouver and one in vancouver.
posted by Iax at 12:03 PM on January 18, 2010

There are an A&W drive-in, a Long John Silver's, and a Brown's Chicken along my route to work here in Chicago.

I don't see many Little Ceaser's Pizza places - I can only think of one in St. Paul, MN and one in Detroit.
posted by mai at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2010

Eighteen years ago I briefly worked for a restaurant chain called Spinnaker's. Despite the nautical-themed name, seafood was not the main cuisine. It was more of a generic casual dining menu along the lines of Applebee's or Ruby Tuesday's. I think the founders were former Ruby Tuesday's managers. The signature item was "Flower Pot Bread," bread baked fresh on premises in clay flower pots (and served in said pots).

At the time I worked in the Richmond, VA, store, there were probably 20-30 stores in the chain. I recall branches in Richmond and Colonial Heights and Virginia beach, VA; Columbia, MD; Myrtle Beach, SC; Nashville and Knoxville, TN (I think Knoxville was the corporate HQ IIRC), Atlanta, GA; Columbus, OH; Cary and and Charlotte and Durham, NC; and probably more that I'm forgetting.

For a brief time in the early 90's, they were expanding rapidly in the East and South, and looked like they might hit the big time nationally, but something happened in the latter part of the decade and the chain eventually folded.

From what I heard from friends still in Richmond, when the chain went kaput, the manager of the Richmond store bought the brand and operated the Richmond store as an independent restaurant until fall of 2009 when the Richmond location -- the last of the Spinnaker's chain -- closed.
posted by gritter at 3:41 PM on January 18, 2010

I really wish Pizza King would fall under this category, but the damn things keep surviving. Kind of like cockroaches.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:40 PM on January 18, 2010

Rocky Rococo is a Madison, WI concept that once had 132 mainly franchised locations. I know, because my dad invested in the REIT that built many of them, then lost basically his entire investment.

The other restaurant they built a lot of was Popeyes (named for the French Connection character, btw), but that's going pretty strong as a brand.

SisterHavana: My thoughts exactly, except I couldn't remember the name!

Locally we had a Mickey D ripoff called Geri's. I have to say one day I got soaked biking home from school and their fresh warm fries were the best thing I ever tasted in my life. That one day, anyway. I guess they're completely gone, though.

Oh! Here's one from my childhood: Frostop. Loved their root beer. Apparently there are only a few remaining locations, without corporate support, but you can get the root beer retail.

Our local A&W still has a drive-in.

Another wholly defunct chain: Burger Chef.
posted by dhartung at 5:45 PM on January 18, 2010

"No drive ins though. Are there any A&W drive ins anywhere?"

I can see this one from the window by my computer! (It's closed for the winter, though.) In Southeast Michigan, the A&W restaurants that aren't drive-ins are considered the strange ones.

"I don't see many Little Ceaser's Pizza places"

Their website says they have stores on five continents.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 6:51 PM on January 18, 2010

Many Hardee's locations used to serve fried chicken, and I remember it as being my favorite fried chicken place. Now only a few that serve chicken remain, including one in Chesapeake, VA.
posted by Night_owl at 10:37 PM on January 18, 2010

Gatti's Pizza. I remember there being one of these in every sizable town in the Southeast, and marketing itself as a slightly more adult oriented Chuck-E-Cheese/Showbiz Pizza type joint (no puppets, but video games, billards and a bar), but wikipedia says there's 150 left and I can't remember the last time I saw one.

Taco Cid had locations throughout the South Carolina Midlands region, but is now down to a single storefront.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:24 AM on January 19, 2010

Yeah, there's got to be at least two or three A&W drive-ins in Kalamazoo. One on Westnedge by Kilgore, and one out by Cork. In the winter, they sell Christmas trees. Almost went this summer when I was home, but ended up eating something lesser, and was sadder for it.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:43 AM on January 19, 2010

Shakey's still has several locations in Los Angeles.

The Golden Skillet in my hometown was un-franchised by its owner, Mr. Walsh, and turned into a Walsh's Chicken.

Wicked Burrito in Chapel Hill was a chain restaurant test that disappointed the owners, as was Roman's Sandwiches on Ventura Blvd in the San Fernando Valley.

My wife and I used to have a plate set from a restaurant called Hobo Joe's.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:53 PM on January 19, 2010

Rocky Rococo is a Madison, WI concept that once had 132 mainly franchised locations. I know, because my dad invested in the REIT that built many of them, then lost basically his entire investment.

I DID MY PART! Their pizza was the fucking bestest, and it was sad, sad, sad, as they closed up one by one in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) while I was in college. By the time I got to graduate school, when I made an annual trip back for Christmas, we were driving 60-75 minutes out to Brooklyn Park or Roseville or some nonsense for a FUCKING PIZZA.

Mr Rococo, you are STILL SORELY MISSED.

(Japan seems to be where all fast food goes when it dies in the States, huh. Does that mean, with Wendy's pulling out of Japan, there will be some sort of Second Coming of Wendy's in the States? A&W can also be added to the list of things-that-are-big-,-in-Japan, at least in Okinawa.
posted by whatzit at 7:55 PM on January 19, 2010

There is definitely something suspicious about Japan. These hard-to-find American restaurants are all dirt-common in Japan:


Curly Fries with effing CHEESE SAUCE! - can't help you with the RAX, but that is an A&W specialty, too.
posted by whatzit at 8:01 PM on January 19, 2010

Hmm, I see Coco's and Shakey's fairly frequently in L.A. How I long for a Swensen's ice cream parlor, though... their Swiss Orange Chip flavor was fucking sublime.
posted by scody at 9:38 PM on January 19, 2010

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