Scott Olson/Getty Images
Who’s up for a Bob’s Big Boy double-decker? Or a rack of Tony Roma’s baby back ribs? Or a slice of Howard Johnson’s out-of-this-world strawberry pie?
Unfortunately, locating these formerly popular restaurant chains can prove problematic these days.
While some brands have endured for decades, the number of locations still open to the public has plummeted, whether through increased competition, corporate missteps, overseas expansion, dicey economic conditions, changing generational palates or all of the above.
“These are challenging brands and challenging times,” says Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, a Chicago-based food industry consulting firm.
Might nostalgia alone save these classic American brands one day?
“As much as I’d like to think so, there aren’t a lot of great examples where that has been the case, because the risk with these brands is very high,” he says. “That said, with the right people, experience and dollars behind it, I think anything is possible.”
If you’re game, there’s still time to grab a bite of history at these 10 restaurant relics.