Who knew that country music, fried chicken and an attorney could be a match made in heaven!? Minnie Pearl’s was launched by Nashville attorney John Jay Hooker and Grand Ole Opry singer Minnie Pearl in 1966.
It was such a success that the company went public not two years after first opening its doors. It then took them only a handful of years to open up more than 500 different locations alongside thousands of franchises.
Sadly, it was clear that something wasn’t right since a lot of these franchises never saw the light of day. The chain also couldn’t keep up with KFC’s rise in popularity. Why? Because the competitor focused on growing their restaurant organically. While KFC focused on quality and consistency, Minnie Pearls struggled to serve even similarly tasted chicken at different locations.
The final nail in the coffin came in 1968 after investors sued the company/ They’d been forced to redo their 1968 taxes to show a loss of more than $1 million. Surprising nobody, Minnie Pearl’s shut down shortly thereafter.
If you were alive during the 1950s and 1960s and haven’t heard about Howard Johnson’s then you were probably living under a rock. This restaurant chain was synonymous with the era, laughed by Howard Johnson himself in the 1920s as a soda fountain and lunch counter.
By the year 1954, they owned more than 400 outposts in 32 states- talk about success. Howard Johnson’s was basically one of the first restaurant chains in the U.S. They went public in 1961. By then they had 605 locations and 88 motor lodges made even more popular by America’s expansion to the highway system.
Though the company reached its peak in the 1970s, everything was downhill from there, likely exacerbated by the boom of popular fast-food chain McDonald’s. Howard Johnson’s pre-made high-quality food served in traditional dining rooms simply could not keep up with the times.
Changes in leadership were attempted but none were successful in bringing the restaurant to its former glory. Nowadays only two locations remain standing. One is in Bangor, Maine and the other is in Lake Placid, New York. If you’re ever in town for a visit and feel like experiencing a blast from the past, make sure to visit them!
What’s in a name? Well, the next restaurant found out the hard way as times changed…..