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Home » 7 Once-Favorite Family Restaurant Chains That Went Out of Business

7 Once-Favorite Family Restaurant Chains That Went Out of Business

  • Food

These family hangouts may have been the buzz of the town at the time, but they don’t exist anymore.

As a child, going to your favorite restaurant and ordering one of your favorite dishes was always a special occasion when your parents brought you out to dinner. I’m not bashing mom’s home cooking, but there is nothing like the pure satisfaction of seeing a meal you ordered come to your table. And as you enjoy that burger or milkshake with your family, you are aware that those are the memories you will treasure for a long time.

However, given how many eateries failed to endure the test of time, what was once your favorite restaurant may now just exist as a memory. The restaurants you formerly knew and liked might not exist now due to competition, negative press, or simply a lack of customer appeal.

Burgers from Gino

Families who enjoy football are aware that NFL Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti opened this eatery in 1957. Football fans marveled at the sports memorabilia in the decor while chowing down on standard fare like the Gino Giant burger. This restaurant offered bundled family discounts that could serve groups of five for about $2 to make it even more kid-friendly. After Gino’s Hamburgers debuted for business, it is said to have gained progress all across the mid-Atlantic region until Marriott acquired the burger company and combined it with its Roy Rogers brand in the 1980s.

A new menu was offered in 2010 when Gino’s Burgers and Chicken, a similar-yet-different eatery, opened. Even though there are still a few remaining Gino’s Burger Stop sites in Maryland, people who loved the first location will always have a special place in their hearts as a hall of fame.

Blue Barn

When families wanted a delicious burger back in the day, Red Barn was the place to go. Its famous Big Barney or Barnbuster burgers will make you feel as though you’re on a farm when you eat them. This once-massive series debuted in 1961 and quickly became a global phenomenon. According to reports, Red Barn had between 300 and 400 locations around the world at its peak of success. But regrettably, it crashed and burned just as rapidly as its success rose. Red Bard was later purchased by City Investing Company after a string of mergers and transactions, and it is said that after that, it let all of the leases on its Red Bard franchises to expire. Families said goodbye to the final Red Barn site after it closed its doors in 1988.

Old-fashioned Buffet

You never have to limit yourself to just one dish because to the abundance of food available at restaurant buffets. This is especially ideal for picky kids who can change their minds quickly between wanting chicken fingers and pizza. Families searching for a filling supper with loads of variety now have that option thanks to The Old Country Buffet.

The brand shut its doors after a string of bad business decisions that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Restaurant Business. In April 2021, Fresh Acquisitions, the parent company of Old Country Buffet, declared bankruptcy, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Old Country Buffet’s future remains uncertain even after being eventually acquired by BBQ Holdings because the business reportedly has not yet taken any immediate steps to renovate and relaunch this buffet brand.

Burgers from Henry

Founded in the 1960s, Henry’s Hamburgers is a well-known chain serving burgers, milkshakes, and malts. It swiftly turned into a nationwide burger craze, opening more than 200 outlets and even challenging McDonald’s. Customers formerly raved about the 15-cent hamburgers offered by this eatery. Unfortunately, the enormous number of fast-food businesses that had grown over the years were able to outperform its performance, which resulted in a wave of closures in the 1970s. The once-prominent franchise now only has one store, in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Burger Master

Burger Chef was much ahead of its time, even patenting the flame broiler and developing the first fast-food kids’ meal, as many who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s may recall. The restaurant brand quickly expanded from 600 to 1,000 franchise sites across the nation between 1968 and 1972. However, because of the heightened competition in the fast-food sector, that triumph was only fleeting. After McDonald’s introduced its Happy Meal in 1979, Burger Chef suffered a significant setback. In an effort to level the playing field, Burger Chef filed a lawsuit against the business, which was ultimately settled out of court. After then, Burger Chef sought to stay up with Burger King and McDonald’s ongoing advancements, but this once-loved chain was unable to do so. Burger Chef is no longer in business, but Hardee’s, which acquired the fast-food brand in 1981 and completely renovated the restaurants, continues to honor its history.


GameWorks was a great place for kids to enjoy food and entertainment in one location, and it may be the most family-friendly restaurant franchise on this list. A joint venture between the animation studio DreamWorks and the video game developer Sega, GameWorks was established in 1996. In addition, Steven Spielberg offered assistance by serving as a creative consultant. Customers could partake in bowling, billiards, and a fully-catered video game arcade as part of the company’s themed eating experience.

Sadly, when DreamWorks decided to leave the company in 2001, this unique eatery lost its ideal crew. Following a number of bankruptcy filings, GameWorks made an IPO file in September 2020 in an effort to turn things around. Documentation revealed, however, that the company has endured three straight years of losses totaling $28.9 million since August 2017, and the chain conceded that it may not be able to regain profitability in the near future or at all, according to an article from FSR magazine.

The last six GameWorks sites shuttered their doors in late 2021 after the restaurant/entertainment complex through a string of required shutdown.

Johnson’s Howard

In its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, Howard Johnson’s was once regarded as the biggest restaurant chain in the United States. At this well-liked family-friendly restaurant, which is famous for its fried clams, hot dogs, and 28 unique ice cream flavors, both adults and children created many wonderful memories. Sadly, when the brand was purchased by the Marriott Corp. in 1985, everything changed. As more focus was placed on the lodging sector of the brand’s business portfolio while Howard Johnson restaurants were owned by Marriott, they continued to close left and right. The final HoJo restaurant, which was located in Lake George, New York, eventually closed its doors permanently in 2022.

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