7 Family Restaurant Chains That Went Out of Business

It was always a special night when your parents took you out to eat as a child, because what could be more exciting than going to your favorite restaurant and ordering one of your favorite foods? While I’m not calling mom’s home cooking, seeing a meal you specifically ordered arrive at your table sparks pure joy. And as you sit with your family, eating that burger or drinking that milkshake, you know these are the moments you’ll remember and cherish for years to come.

But what was once your favorite place to eat might be nothing more than a memory now, as many restaurants have failed to stand the test of time. Whether it’s because of competition, bad publicity, or simply a lack of consumer appeal, the dining establishments you knew and loved may no longer exist today.

Here are some of the once-favorite family restaurant chains that are no longer in business. Once you’re done learning what happened to these restaurants, be sure to check out 4 Restaurant Chains That Are Making The Biggest Returns Post-Bankruptcy.

Sign and facade of Gino's Hamburgers
Keith Swango / Everybody goes to Gino’s via Facebook

Families who love football know that this fan-favorite establishment was founded in 1957 by NFL Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti. The decor featured sports memorabilia that football fans drooled over as they indulged in staple food options like the Gino Giant Burger. To make this eatery even more family friendly, they had included family specials that could feed groups of five for less than $2. After Gino’s Hamburgers opened its doors, it reportedly made its way across the mid-Atlantic until the ’80s, when Marriott bought the burger chain and merged it with its Roy Rogers brand.

In 2010, a similar but different restaurant called Gino’s Burgers and Chicken opened, offering a new menu. And while you can still visit the last places in Maryland today, those who loved Gino’s original burger stop will have their own special place in the hall of fame in their hearts.

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@redbarnofravenna via Facebook

Back in the day when families craved a good burger, Red Barn was the place to go. You could enjoy their Big Barney or Barnbuster burgers and feel like you’re sitting on a farm. This once huge franchise first opened in 1961 and soon took the world by storm. At the height of its popularity, the Red Barn reportedly had between 300 and 400 restaurants worldwide. But sadly, just as quickly as its success grew, it crashed and burned. After a series of mergers and sales, Red Bard was eventually acquired by City Investing Company, which reportedly allowed all of its Red Bard franchise leases to expire. Finally, in 1988, the families said goodbye to the last official Red Barn location after it closed its doors.

old country buffet
George Sheldon/Shutterstock

The beauty of restaurant buffets is that customers can choose from a wide selection of foods, so you never have to settle for just one dish. This is especially perfect for indecisive kids who go from wanting chicken wings to pizza in seconds. The Old Country Buffet provided that opportunity for families looking for a satisfying meal with plenty of variation.

After a series of poor business decisions culminating in the economic strains of the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand closed its doors. restaurant business informed. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul’s Business DiaryOld Country Buffet’s parent company, Fresh Acquisitions, filed for bankruptcy in April 2021. After BBQ Holdings eventually purchased it, the fate of Old Country Buffet still hangs in the balance as the company is reportedly still has not taken any immediate action to renew and relaunch this buffet brand.

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henry's burgers sign
Henry’s Burgers/Facebook

Henry’s Hamburgers is a beloved milkshake, milkshake and burger chain that got its start in the ’60s. It quickly became a burger phenomenon, expanding to more than 200 restaurants in the US, even rivaling McDonald’s. At one point, customers couldn’t get enough of this establishment’s 15-cent burgers. But sadly, its success couldn’t compete with the massive amounts of fast food businesses that developed over the years, leading to massive closures in the 1970s. Today, the once-thriving chain is has downsized to a location in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

burger chef restaurant exterior
Burger Chef / Facebook

Those who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s may remember how Burger Chef was way ahead of its time, even patenting the flame broiler and creating the first fast food for kids. Between 1968 and 1972, the restaurant chain grew rapidly from 600 to 1,000 franchises across the country. But that success was short-lived thanks to growing competition in the fast-food industry. McDonald’s hit Burger Chef with a bang after launching its Happy Meal in 1979, and Burger Chef attempted to level the playing field by filing a lawsuit against the franchise that was ultimately settled out of court. While Burger Chef tried to keep up with the continual innovations from brands like McDonald’s and Burger King thereafter, this once-loved chain just couldn’t keep up. Though no longer in existence, the Burger Chef legacy still lives on through Hardee’s, which took over the fast-food chain in 1981 and completely revamped the restaurants.

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Jim Lambert/Shutterstock

What might be the most family-friendly chain restaurant on this list, GameWorks was a prime spot for kids to enjoy food and entertainment all in one. Founded in 1996, GameWorks was a joint effort between video game company Sega and animation studio DreamWorks. Additionally, Steven Spielberg provided a helping hand as a creative consultant. The company provided patrons with a themed dining experience that featured a full-service video arcade, bowling and billiards room.

Sadly, this distinctive restaurant lost its dream team when, in 2001, DreamWorks went out of business. After going through a few bankruptcy filings, in September 2020, GameWorks tried to get back on its feet by filing an IPO. However, according to an article in FSR magazine, “Documentation showed that as of August 2017, the company had experienced three consecutive years of losses totaling $28.9 million, and the chain acknowledged that it may not be able to achieve profitability in the short term or at all.” “.

After the restaurant/entertainment center experienced a series of mandatory closures, the remaining six GameWorks locations will close their doors in late 2021.

howard johnson restaurant
Anna Richard / Shutterstock

Once considered the largest restaurant chain in the United States, Howard Johnson’s was at its height in the 1960s and 1970s. Known for its fried clams, hot dogs, 28 unique flavors of ice cream, adults and children alike created many happy memories at this beloved family restaurant. Unfortunately, this all changed when the brand was acquired by Marriott Corp. in 1985. Under Marriott ownership, Howard Johnson restaurants continued to close left and right as more emphasis was placed on the lodging segment of the business portfolio. Of the brand. Eventually, the Lake George, NY location, and the last HoJo restaurant, officially closed for good in 2022.


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