The 15 Biggest Failed Restaurant Chains


The 15 Biggest Failed Restaurant Chains

Steak and Ale.
Photo by Kelsey Stoskopf –

Steak and Ale

The same restaurant genius who gave us Chili’s and Jack in the Box launched Steak and Ale in Dallas in 1966. This self-service salad bar did amazing in its first year, probably because it served 8-ounce fillets for $1.95.

By 1976 they had some 109 locations open in 24 states. but even so, Steak and Ale’s doors were destined to close. Pillsbury swept in to buy the chain when the chain couldn’t keep up with the trend of fast-casual dining that had swept the nation.

The last 50 locations closed in 2009 after Metromedia purchased the brand.

Nowadays, who wouldn’t kill to enjoy an 8-ounce fillet for pennies at Steak and Ale?


In 1889, if you wanted to eat out, you only had two choices. Either you spent an arm and a leg on a fine dining experience or settled for an everyman lunch counter. But when Childs opened in downtown New York, it changed the restaurant business forever.

The affordable restaurant focused on quality food, hygiene, good services, intelligent design, and most importantly, expansion. Thus, it hit its peak in the 1930s with 125 locations, spread across the nation.

By 1950, however, numbers went down to just 53 locations, largely due to managerial issues such as pushing for a vegetarian approach by co-founder William Childs. Nowadays, such an idea would be welcomed with open arms but back then, things were different and the restaurant experience landscape was still in its infancy.

In 1960, that remained of the chain was purchased by the Riese Organization. Oh, you’ve heard of them! They own KFC, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts, Houlihan’s, and T.G.I. Friday’s.

Next, was a knockoff restaurant chain that ultimately got knocked out…..

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