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10 Forgotten Fast Food Chains That Didn’t Stand The Test Of Time

A Howard Johnson's restaurant

Fast food giants McDonald's, Burger King and KFC are seen in the majority of US towns and cities.

Other franchises like Wendy's, Taco Bell and Popeyes are also expanding rapidly across the country as the fast food wars continue.

McDonald's and KFC are particularly long-running and massively successful businesses.

And they have outlived a host of other chains that are no longer with or operating under a different guise.

Here are 10 forgotten fast food chains.

READ MORE: Urban Myths About Everyone’s Favourite Fast Food Companies

Howard Johnson's

A Howard Johnson's restaurant

Howard Johnson's was known for its fried clams and 28 flavors of ice cream.

The chain was an icon of the highway and byways of America.

However, it has largely disappeared since its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

There are no restaurants left, but the brand still exists in the form of hotels, of which there are around 150 across the US.


A Bennigan's restaurant in Denver

This Irish pub-themed casual dining restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy and closed all its corporate-owned stores in 2008.

Some franchised stores still exist, but the chain is a shadow of its former self.


Once a popular chain of Mexican cuisine restaurants, Chi-Chi's closed its remaining U.S. restaurants in 2004, following a Hepatitis A outbreak and subsequent bankruptcy.

Its failings included building its restaurants too big, but the hepatitis outbreak finished the company off.

The Associated Press reported at least 575 people contracted hepatitis A after dining at the restaurant in Beaver, Pennsylvania in 2003.

The virus was traced to green onions used in Chi-Chi's salsa.

This outbreak became the largest hepatitis A outbreak in American history.

By the time of the report, three people had died from the virus, but the death toll eventually reached four, with the number of cases exceeding 600.

Kenny Rogers Roasters

Made famous by a Seinfeld episode, this chicken-centered chain, co-founded by country singer Kenny Rogers, peaked in the mid-90s but has since closed all its U.S. locations.

However, it has found surprising success in Asia, where it continues to operate.

Gino's Hamburgers

Founded by NFL Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti, this fast-food restaurant was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but ended up being purchased and absorbed by Roy Rogers in the 1980s.

Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse

Known for its buffet-style dining and steak-centered menu, many locations closed down in the early 2000s, and very few remain today.

The decline and eventual closure of many Bonanza Steakhouse locations can be attributed to a combination of factors, including management decisions, market competition, economic challenges, and changing consumer preferences.

Steak and Ale

Founded in 1966, Steak and Ale pioneered the concept of a casual dining chain with affordable steak dinners.

The restaurant filed for bankruptcy and closed its remaining locations in 2008.

READ MORE: McDonald’s Rancid Meat And Krispy Kreme’s Unfortunate Choice Of Letters – Five Fast-Food Scandals That Shook The Industry


Known for inventing the Klondike Bar, Isaly's was once a prominent chain of family-owned dairies and restaurants in the midwest.

The restaurants are gone, but the Klondike Bar lives on.

For the uninitiated, A Klondike Bar is a popular ice cream treat consisting of a square of vanilla ice cream coated with a thin layer of chocolate.

It's similar to a choc ice.

It was originally handmade in the early 1920s by the Isaly Dairy Company in Mansfield, Ohio. The name "Klondike" was derived from the Klondike River in Canada, evoking the sense of a cold, refreshing treat.

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Sambo's was a popular chain with over 1,000 locations nationwide in the late 1970s, but it faced controversy over its name and branding, which was seen by some as racially insensitive.

By 1982, all but one location had been sold off or rebranded.

All-Star Café

Backed by sports stars like Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, and Shaquille O'Neal, the All-Star Café tried to combine sports memorabilia with casual dining, but the concept didn't take off.

The last location closed in 2007.

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