Despite being a blatant White Castle knockoff, this Minneapolis based restaurant swept America by storm from the moment it opened its first location in 1926. They managed to open 120 locations before White Castle sued them- may be stealing the fake turrets was not a good idea, after all!
Shortly after, they started changing their furniture to an Art Deco style, not to mention the $82,000 they had to pay White Castle.
At most, the chain had 230 locations in the 1950s, but as the population started moving away from urban areas, things began to change. Fans had to say goodbye to their last location in Toledo in 2004.
Let this be a lesson for all those who think stealing ideas is a lucrative business.
The Chi-Chi Mexican restaurant was an instant hit when it first opened its doors in 1975 in downtown Minneapolis, bringing in a whopping $2 million. The only way was up, as they say, and soon enough founders Marno McDermott and Max McGee found themselves opening 237 locations by 1986.
Since they had no competition, they were even able to pull off opening 42 locations in 1985 alone. But it wasn’t long until other savvy business people caught wind of their success, staunching their efforts to open new Chi-Chis in New York, New England, and the South.
As baby boomers aged out of the Mexican restaurant’s target demographic, its popularity dwindled even more. A further decline in alcohol consumption sealed the restaurant’s fate.
In 2002, Chi-Chis only had 144 locations opened, though they were not enough to keep the chain afloat. In 2003, the owners filed for bankruptcy, but the worst was yet to come. Only a month after filling in the paperwork, the largest hepatitis-A outbreak in American history which struck 660 people and killed four, could be traced back to green onions served at a Pittsburgh-area outpost.
The following year, the last 65 locations closed their doors as well.
There is some good news, though! If you ever miss Chi-Chi’s iconic flavors you can pick up Chi-Chi’s salsa, now owned by Hormel. Those lucky enough to be traveling to Europe can still enjoy their dining experience as 11 locations are still open across the pond. Surprisingly, 8 of those are in Belgium, of all places!
This next hot dog stand chain sadly had to be put to sleep…..