Food & Recipes

All The Restaurants That Are Closing Locations In 2019

Have any of these chains closed in your area?

The restaurant business is notoriously tough. Restaurants may fail — and many do — for any number of reasons: subpar food, shoddy customer service and inconvenient location are just a few of the possible factors that can sink a location. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing tastes and customer preferences. With the growing popularity of meal kits and meal plans, it’s become easier than ever to swap restaurant meals for eating in at home, for example.

Unfortunately, even longstanding restaurant chains aren’t immune from these closures. This year, you’ll see plenty of chains, old and new, shuttering locations and planning changes. Is one of your favorite eateries closing multiple spots throughout the U.S.? Find out here!

Carl’s Jr.

In late 2018, the parent company of the fast-food restaurant founded as Carl’s Drive-In Barbeque in 1945 closed its office (once the corporate headquarters) in Anaheim. A California fixture for decades, the chain consolidated its operations with its Tennessee HQ and moved out of the city where founder Carl Karcher had deep roots. This happened after sales fell 4.4% in 2017 and a lawsuit was filed against former CEO Jason Marker for allegedly discriminating against older employees. Although no formal announcements have been made, Carl’s Jr. has been slowly closing locations for years, and that practice continues into 2019.

Getty Images | Dave Rowland

Steak ‘n Shake

The burger and milkshake eatery recently closed 31 locations throughout Missouri and Ohio, at least temporarily. Sales at the restaurant fell 5.1% in 2018, which makes three years of consecutive losses. The company is seeking franchisees to purchase the locations. A St. Louis-based media outlet, Fox 2 News, reports that local employees were given little notice prior to layoffs.

Getty Images | Monica Schipper

O’Charley’s

In 2018, the parent company that owns O’Charley’s restaurants along with a few other dining chains decided to split into two separate companies. That plan stalled later in the year and it looks like it still hasn’t gone through, so the restaurant’s future is unclear.

O’Charley’s sales fell 2.8% in 2018, and owners said when they announced the structural shift that they hope to get it back to what they call a “growth profile,” with the ultimate intention of selling the chain. Meanwhile, although many employees enjoy working at O’Charley’s — such as Rebecka Cook who shared this Instagram post — locations in Tennessee, Florida and elsewhere continue to close.

Starbucks

While coffee fans might prefer Starbucks for happy hour over the neighborhood pub, the popular chain is not immune to market forces. In the summer of 2018, Starbucks announced it would be closing 150 locations during 2019 as part of an “optimization” process of its U.S. store portfolio. A company announcement stated that the closures would affect “underperforming company-operated stores in its most densely penetrated markets.”

Starbucks plans to open new stores in underserved markets and slow the growth of licensed stores as well. So don’t worry — the result will be a slower growth net rate for the corporation in 2019, but your favorite coffee chain isn’t going anywhere.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Quiznos

In 2018, Quiznos was sold to a California investment firm that backs a new company called Rego Restaurant Group. In the 10 years prior to that, the sub chain declined from 4,700 U.S. locations to fewer than 400. Although the new owner hopes to resurrect the brand as part of a platform that envisions doing the same for other once-popular names, shops continue to close around the nation.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Fuddruckers

Fuddruckers still has its loyal fans, yet the hamburger joint has seen a decline in sales in recent years. Sales dipped 5.3% during the second quarter of 2019 and 11.2% during the first quarter. So far, Fuddrucker’s parent company has closed multiple locations including six during the second quarter alone. Whether they will shutter more remains to be seen.

HomeTown Buffet

If you frequent this restaurant, you might not be able to refill your plate much longer. In 2016, HomeTown Buffet’s parent company filed for bankruptcy for the third time. Since then, it has continued to close restaurants around the country, including all of its Connecticut locations.

Getty Images | MediaNews Group/Orange County Register

Pizza Rev

In 2011, Pizza Rev answered the question, how can you make quality pizza quickly enough to eat on your lunch break? The make-your-own pizza restaurant quickly expanded throughout California and into other states. However, the eatery began closing locations in 2019, including three in Memphis for what a company statement called “unforeseen circumstances”— leaving customers and employees in the lurch.

The Las Vegas location, shown in this Instagram post from user @pchno5, currently remains in operation. The franchise does have plans to expand more into southern California soon, so it’s not all bad news.

IHOP

The International House of Pancakes first opened in 1958 and has been a place for fans of all things breakfast for decades. Sales have declined at the chain for years, even after the IHOb publicity stunt of 2018. Since then, IHOP has closed dozens of locations, some more abruptly than others, though it still experienced a small net growth of new restaurants in 2018. Reports say that IHOP will now try for a foothold in the breakfast delivery space, and plans to expand a scaled-down imprint into rural and urban areas. So don’t count the chain out yet!

Getty Images | Scott Olson

Johnny Carino’s

Even though some of these country Italian-themed restaurants apparently have special features, such as the feline “door greeter” seen in this Instagram post from @findinggrace365, Johnny Carino’s eateries have seen better days. In 2016, the chain’s owner filed bankruptcy for the second time.  Since then, several locations have shut down.

PDQ

Short for “People Dedicated to Quality,” PDQ Restaurants are a “happy place” for many, as mentioned in this Instagram post from the official @pdqfreshfood account. Since opening its first location in Tampa, Florida in 2011, the chain has popped up throughout the country. However, in April 2019, the restaurant shuttered all of its Oklahoma locations, simply stating that doing so was in the best interest of the brand. There has been no mention of closing other locations.

 

Subway

Apparently, cold cuts aren’t what they used to be. Once considered a healthier alternative to traditional fast food fare, Subway restaurants have been declining in recent years. In 2018, the company closed 1,100 total shops in the U.S. More closures are possible in 2019 since Subway told Skift Table that it would close, remodel, or relocate restaurants in a bid to create “fewer, but more profitable, restaurants.”

Getty Images | Joe Raedle

Papa Murphy’s

Papa Murphy’s restaurants were acquired in a merger by Canadian company MTY Food Group, Inc. Although it is the largest take-and-bake pizza brand and the fifth largest pizza chain in the United States, Papa Murphy’s closed 97 locations in 2018. Reports of shops locking up for good continue in 2019.

Village Inn

Once known for its pies and all-day breakfast offerings, Village Inn restaurants offer a bit of nostalgia to people such as Mark Stein, who shared this post on Instagram at @mark5280pix. In 2008, the eatery’s owner filed for bankruptcy. Although you can find the restaurants (many of which have been updated) in locations ranging from Alaska to Virginia, the company continues to close establishments in Tennessee, Utah, Iowa and elsewhere in 2019.

Pie Five

In 2011, the first Pie Five Pizza Co. opened its doors in Fort Worth, Texas. Since then, the restaurant chain has built a presence in 24 states. Fans such as Cedric Williams, who shared this post on Instagram at @mrghms, love the offerings. However, the restaurant chain has struggled and seen a decline in sales. Since 2017, they have closed more than 30 locations, including several in 2019. Pie Five does have a plan to retrench with a smaller delivery and takeout-based model that racks up fewer startup expenses, so we’ll see what happens!

Chipotle

Some crises are challenging to overcome. In late 2015 and early 2016, Chipotle diners became ill from two separate E. coli outbreaks that affected the restaurants. In 2019, customers learned their credit card information might have been compromised (again). While the fast-casual taco spot is not going belly-up, the chain is in the process of closing upwards of 50 locations in 2019. The good news is, Chipotle plans to open up to 155 new locations this year, too, and their first-quarter revenue numbers look like they’ve increased from last year at this time — so if the company can weather this latest digital information storm, it may be able to recover.

Getty Images | Andrew Renneisen

Tim Hortons

Since opening its first U.S. store in Tonawanda, New York in 1984, Tim Hortons has struggled to succeed in the United States. The coffee and donut chain is a Canadian icon with locations in 14 countries, but hasn’t been as popular in the U.S. The company has closed locations consistently over the last several years, shuttering around 14% of its American locations from 2015-2018, according to a Bloomberg report. The trend continues in 2019.

Getty Images | Spencer Platt

Papa John’s

The pizza chain has struggled to keep customers since its founder stepped down last year after reportedly using a racial slur. Sales declined by 7.3% in 2018. One analyst has predicted that the brand could close as many as 250 restaurants in 2019 if sales do not improve. Some locations have already shut down, despite reports that Papa John’s is doing what it can to help its franchisees through reduced fees and commissary prices.

Getty Images | Joe Raedle

Eat’n Park

This family restaurant has had a presence in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia since 1949.

As mentioned in this Instagram post from John Bednar at @yinzflipz, it became known as “the place for smiles” thanks to menu listings like Breakfast Smiles, Value Smiles and smiley-face cookies. The chain is actually doing well: the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last year that sales grew $2 million between 2014 and 2017, and same-store results were up from previous years. But that profitability has come at a cost — the closing of some underperforming locations.

So far, the chain has closed five locations in Ohio in 2019. It still plans to build at least one new location and renovate some others this year, however.

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The place for smiles #eatnpark

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Pollo Tropical

Known for its citrus-marinated, flame-grilled chicken, Pollo Tropical has become a popular restaurant in places such as its hometown of Miami, as this Instagram post from user A. Richibson at @flameo11 denotes. However, it never became quite as beloved elsewhere. In 2017, the company underwent a rather chaotic period in which it announced it would spin two brands into two companies (which never happened), halted a planned expansion into Texas, unloaded a CEO, and experienced multi-million-dollar losses. It also closed 10 restaurants in October 2017. In December 2018, the company announced it had closed 23 locations in Florida, Georgia and Texas. Could more be far behind?

Applebee’s

The first Applebee’s restaurant opened in 1980 in Atlanta, Georgia. Since then, the bar and grill has become a household name. In recent years, though, the chain has struggled to maintain popularity. They closed hundreds of locations total in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and continue to shutter restaurants in 2019. Some onlookers believe that trying to appeal to younger customers lost them established ones; critics wonder if the chain will survive 2019.

Getty Images | Scott Olson

Potbelly

Potbelly Sandwich Shop first opened in Chicago in 1977. Since then, the franchise has opened shop in multiple states across the country as well as in Canada. However, the restaurant just closed the last of its Toronto locations. The sub shop has struggled financially for years, resulting in a slowdown in development and a recent, failed attempt at a sale. It is considering other closures of underperforming locations this year, as well.

Getty Images | Andrew Burton

Luby’s

Once a popular cafeteria chain serving comfort food in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and elsewhere, Luby’s has closed several locations over the years. After closing and selling off multiple locations in 2018, the trend of shutting down seems to continue. As of April 2019, Luby’s had closed 27 restaurants within the last 12 months. The company is planning a comeback that includes building awareness and bringing back breakfast options. This Instagram image is from Luby’s fan @durandurantulsa.

Ruby Tuesday

From a tiny campus restaurant in 1972, Ruby Tuesday grew to become a well-known chain of casual dining restaurants with ruby-colored signs, such as the one shown in this Instagram post from @the_mind_of_a_wanderer. The restaurant has struggled in recent years, however, closing 51 locations in 2018 after a 2016 purge of 95 sites. It also lost a CEO and experienced falling sales in 2018. The company continues to close locations in 2019.

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Friendly’s

Known for comfort food and ice cream offerings, Friendly’s has a history that dates back to the 1930s. By the mid-’70s, the chain boasted 500 restaurants throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. However, in 2019, the eatery shut down 14 locations in five states, some in a less-than-friendly way.

In fact, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) seeks to change laws that allowed Friendly’s to close without warning employees more than a day ahead of time. Local station WWLP reports the chain wants to focus on opening locations in high-traffic areas.

Getty Images | Joe Raedle