10 Classic Fast Food Restaurants That No Longer Exist

The places we went and the food we ate as a child have created some of our strongest memories. Who could forget the excitement as a child of heading out to your favorite burger joint or getting treated to some guilty-pleasure fast food? If you haven’t noticed, a lot of once-huge restaurants from the past aren’t around anymore. The places that are around nowadays can’t replace the restaurants we had grown to know and love. Businesses may come and go but the following will never be forgotten. Read on to take a walk down memory lane and rediscover some restaurants that are no longer around.

1. Howard Johnson’s

During the heyday of Howard Johnson’s, sometimes lovingly just referred to as HoJo’s, there were over 1,000 locations nationwide. In fact, it was the largest chain of restaurants during the 1960s and 1970s. The chain of restaurants was known for its iconic buildings, including orange roofs, peaks and weather vanes.

Howard Johnson restaurants quickly started to fall behind its competitors in the fast food business, and its dinner-style restaurants didn’t leave much room for innovation and financial efficiency. “The downfall of Howard Johnson’s was ultimately their competitors. Friendly’s had their ice cream, KFC was all about fried chicken, and in comparison, HoJo’s was just too basic,” one critic stated.

2. Red Barn

The Red Barn restaurant was known for its, well, red barns. The locations looked like barns and the exterior walls were painted red. The design proved popular, seeing as customers could never mistake the Red Barn for any other restaurant in the game.

During the Red Barn’s prime, it had over 400 locations in the US and abroad. There is currently only one location left in Racine, Wisconsin, though its name is now The Farm. Read on to find out what other defunct restaurant chains are no longer around.

3. Beefsteak Charlie’s

Beefsteak Charlie’s was a chain of restaurants that started in Manhattan and grew to fame in the 1910s. They just loved to spoil their customers — maybe a little too much so, seeing as it became one of the reasons they couldn’t pull a profit.

The chain’s slogan was “You’re gonna get spoiled” and that is what they stuck to. The now-defunct restaurant offered all you can eat shrimps and salad, as well as alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and sangria. Unfortunately, all the unlimited booze hit Beefsteak Charlie’s right where they hurt: in the wallet and by 2010, all locations had closed.

4. Lum’s

The family restaurant Lum’s was opened in Miami Beach in 1956 as a hot dog stand then slowly grew. By 1961 they had four locations. They were best known for their beer-steamed hotdogs. Then they rapidly expanded their business.

By the year 1969 Lum’s had over 400 company-owned or franchised restaurants, including in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Europe. The company, however, overextended their reach and ended up filing for bankruptcy. All of the original stores closed by 1982.

5. Minnie Pearl’s Chicken

Minnie Pearl’s Chicken was a line of fast food chicken restaurants established to compete with KFC. The venture was co-founded along with entrepreneur John Jay Hooker and the famous country singer Minnie Pearl allowed them to use her name. Initial estimates calculated huge success in the chicken business.

6. White Tower

Along with the success of White Castle, came imitators. White Castle was founded in 1921, then in 1922 along came White Tower. You might be thinking, “oh, they just have white in the name,” but that wasn’t all they took from White Castle.

The fast food restaurant chain White Tower took just about everything except the kitchen sink. And that was nailed down. No, White Tower took the menu, the style, the advertising methods and even the building architecture. So, pretty much everything. There were 230 locations in the 1950s, but many closed due to legal action against them. The very last location closed in 2004.

7. Isaly’s

Isaly’s was founded way back in the 19th century and they certainly left their mark on American history. Not only was the restaurant known for its chipped chopped ham, it was also famous for inventing the Klondike Bar. Wow!

The name of the restaurants was named after the founder, but in advertisements, it stood for “I Shall Always Love You Sweetheart.” In the later years the company was sold off a few times until it slowly it died out, along with the good ol’ days.

8. Henry’s Hamburgers

Henry’s Hamburgers was opened by an ice cream company to expand on their shakes and malts. Henry’s was modeled after McDonald’s, even though they were a competitor at the time. They offered ten hamburgers for as low as a dollar.

Henry’s Hamburgers was big during the 1960s but started to decline in the 1970s. Their main issue was that they just couldn’t compete with their other fast food competitors. Henry’s didn’t have a drive-in and also didn’t diversify their menu. There is only one location left in Benton Harbor, MI.

9. Horn & Hardart

Horn & Hardart stands out from the rest of the restaurants on this list being that they weren’t just restaurants. They were automated fast food joints, known as “automats”. At this restaurant you could purchase prepared food from behind a glass window, kind of like a giant vending machine.

You just needed to insert the proper amount of coins in the machine and pull a lever to take out the freshly-made food. Sadly the last location closed in 1991. However, similar automat restaurants exist today in other parts of the world, like Europe and Japan.

10. Burger Chef

Burger Chef was a chain of hamburger restaurants founded by General Electric in Indianapolis in 1954. At its peak it had over 1,200 locations nationwide. So what happened to Burger Chef? Well, let’s just say that their biggest competitor was McDonalds…

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