There are just some restaurants that stick with a person. Above all, it's not always the food that we miss as diners - it's often the atmosphere of a place that makes the first impression. Whereas some chain restaurants are forgettable with sub-par interiors and mediocre menus, others truly live on in our nostalgia-filled memories.
With that being said, not every restaurant can make it through all that the food industry throws at it. From bankruptcy to an eventual decline in interest, some restaurants that we may have forgotten about still exist out there - if only a few of them - and we'd love to see them come back.
Affectionately known as HoJo's by its loyal fans, Howard Johnson's was once a beacon for homestyle food and comfort dishes. The chain hasn't yet been completely wiped out as one novelty still exists in Lake George, New York, with many who stay at the surrounding resorts making the food pilgrimage. Despite the last restaurant standing, the chain once had over 1,000 stores open around the country in 1975 which were, of course, attached to the motel of the same name.
The chain, known for its simple yet delicious meals and unparalleled ice cream, was taken over by Marriot during the 1980s. Marriot then began converting the Howard Johnson restaurants into Big Boy restaurants, despite the efforts by franchise owners to maintain the original name and style of the HoJo establishments.
Official All-Star Cafe
Once known for its grand sports bar atmosphere, the Official All-Star Cafe played host to a number of famed athletes including Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal, and Wayne Gretzky. If it seemed to have parallels with Planet Hollywood, that's because the sports bar was also backed by the restaurant chain, exuding fandom at every location. Speaking of which, the first was opened in Time Square in 1995.
The menu at the All-Star Cafe was what one would expect at a sports bar but in the mid-1990s, it was all the rage. The interior was designed with the intention to appeal to sports fans of all kinds and included memorabilia that was impressive and altogether worth dining in just to see. Just like any sports bar, this chain also included TVs around the restaurant which, of course, showed sports games and highlights. Sadly, by 1999, the Official All-Star Cafe just couldn't compete with other up-and-coming restaurants and sports bars and filed for bankruptcy, with the last remaining location closing down in 2007.
Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips
Fish and chips are not something one typically associates with Ohio, a land-locked state. In order to appreciate this chain, one would have to know its history and the history of the British actor that shares the establishment's name. Arthur Treacher was known for his time as a talk show host when he was a sidekick to Merv Griffon. This was during the 1960s and by 1969, the first Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips was finally open in Columbus, Ohio.
The restaurant saw the success of more than 800 chains in total by the late 1970s, seeming to grow at an exponential rate. However, when the 1980s came, the popularity of the trending British dish quickly declined. Suddenly, the interest was lost in the restaurant and its food, which led to the cutting back of many locations. Now, the restaurants are limited to Cleveland, Ohio, where a devoted group of fans keeps the chain alive with only several establishments currently open.
Ground Round was the fun family restaurant that many people remember growing up with. Across the eastern U.S., there were roughly 200 restaurants which are fairly significant numbers for a chain that only operated in one region. However, corporate management, and its mistakes and industry blunders, led to the eventual decline of what was once a family-friendly restaurant favorite.
The chain, which was once known for its free popcorn, peanuts, and family-friendly movies that were shown in the dining room, fell to mismanagement, and, eventually, only 20 locations remained. The downfall happened mostly during the 1990s, with 1991 being the last year that every location was open. Thanks to the efforts of franchises, the 20 locations that were left as of 2021 are still hanging on.
One of the most recent restaurants to disappear is Fuddruckers, which followed under its parent chain of Luby's Cafeteria. Sadly, the pandemic is what forced the restaurant to make the decision to ultimately close all of its doors - starting with Luby's Cafeteria, followed by Fuddruckers, of which only 31 are still open throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Known for their famous hamburgers and grinding their own ground beef, the chain will be surely be missed by its long-term fans.