Beloved Restaurants That Sadly Didn’t Survive The Past Decade

Even the most beloved names aren’t immune
to the cutthroat restaurant industry. Once-popular chains can go belly-up and restaurants helmed
by the biggest celebrity chefs in the business can fail to thrive. Here’s why these restaurants
closed in the past decade. When you get a craving for take-out chicken
these days, chances are you’ll head to KFC, Popeyes or Boston Market. But beginning in
the ’90s, there was another chicken option on the market: Kenny Rogers Roasters. The
chain was started by country singer Kenny Rogers, who was inspired by John Y. Brown’s
success with KFC, and who wanted to provide a healthier chicken option to hungry diners. Kenny Rogers Roasters specialized in rotisserie
chicken, and at one point was so famous that it was even featured in an episode of Seinfeld.
But the last U.S. location of the once-popular chicken chain, which at one point in the 1990s
had more than 300 restaurants, shut its doors in 2011. “Kenny? Kenny!” However, even though Kenny Rogers Roasters
has disappeared from the U.S. market, it has found a second life in Asia. There are now
more than 400 Kenny Rogers Roasters spread across the Philippines, Malaysia, China, and
India, and the chain is still expanding. Kenny Rogers Roasters may have disappeared from
the USA in 2011, but those who still crave a rotisserie chicken meal with all the fixins
just have to book a plane ticket to the other side of the world to get their fix. The Four Seasons restaurant inside the iconic
Four Seasons hotel in New York City opened in 1959, and for decades was one of the fanciest
spots in town to catch a meal. It was frequented by celebrities including John F. Kennedy,
Martha Stewart, Barbara Walters, Norman Mailer, Warren Buffet, and Nora Ephron. It seems like
such a famous restaurant would never face the same perils of other businesses in the
industry, but the Four Seasons Restaurant closed in 2016 after a lost lease forced the
owners to relocate. The restaurant reopened just three blocks
away from its original location in 2018, but unfortunately, a Four Seasons Restaurant not
located in the actual Four Seasons hotel just couldn’t make it in today’s restaurant world,
not even with the $30 million in help from their investment partners, and the new location
shut its doors in 2019. Diners who still want to get a meal at the Four Seasons hotel can
do so at The Garden or at Ty Bar. Tom Colicchio may be best known these days
as one of the judges on Bravo’s Top Chef but he’s also a celebrated chef in his own right.
He opened his restaurant, Craft, in New York in 2001. He’s even been the recipient of the
James Beard “Outstanding Chef” award, and is also known for his philanthropic work around
food insecurity and school lunches in the US. Since opening the highly regarded Craft,
he’s opened a few other successful eateries, but one of his projects, Colicchio & Sons,
wasn’t so lucky. Colicchio & Sons opened in 2010 in an attempt
to rebrand a pricey steak restaurant during the economic downturn, but it turns out that
even lowering costs and reducing portion sizes couldn’t make the restaurant turn a profit.
The restaurant was forced to close in 2016. Softening the blow, Colicchio opened up his
New York restaurant Temple Court a month later, an eatery which is still thriving, in spite
of a scandal when it first opened with the name Fowler & Wells, after a publishing company
that, it turns out, was a proponent of the racist pseudoscience phrenology. Colicchio fans can also enjoy the celebrity
chef’s food at one of his other Crafted Hospitality restaurants, or by picking up one of his cookbooks. The popular Kogi Korean BBQ food truck in
Los Angeles is the brainchild of chef Roy Choi, and he tried something new when he teamed
up with Daniel Patterson in 2016 to open Locol. Locol was intended to be a healthier alternative
to fast food restaurants, offering high-quality, healthful, casual food like chili, burgers
with tofu, and tacos called “foldies.” The restaurant initially opened up in the Watts
neighborhood of Los Angeles, and Choi said that he hoped that someday there would be
a million Locols across the country. His employees were hopeful, too. “We tryin’ to be here for 20, 30, 40, 50 years.
Like McDonald’s, you know?” But it wasn’t meant to be. Just two and a
half years after the first restaurant opened, all of their brick-and-mortar locations closed. Choi may not be entirely done with Locol,
however. In late 2019, he announced that he was starting a delivery app called Chewbox,
and that the food from Locol’s original menu would be available to order through the app. In 2013, Chipotle secretly invested in Denver-area
fast-casual pizza chain Pizzeria Locale. The company fought to keep the partnership secret
for almost two-and-a-half years, apparently because it didn’t want news of the experiment
to affect its stock price. Pizzas at Pizzeria Locale were made in a Chipotle-like
assembly-line model, with several pre-made topping combo options. The pizzas cooked up
in just two minutes after being assembled, and could be enjoyed with wine served on tap. The pizza chain expanded outside of Denver
and eventually had restaurants throughout the Midwest. But in 2018, the chain announced
that it would be closing five Pizzeria Locale restaurants, keeping just two of the Denver
locations and the original Colorado location open. According to the head chef, they decided
to close the out-of-state restaurants to focus on expanding in Denver. Pizzeria Locale wasn’t Chipotle’s only foray
into the restaurant world beyond burritos. In 2011, it opened Shophouse Asian Kitchen,
a chain The Motley Fool called Chipotle’s “next huge opportunity” at the time. It was
a fast-casual restaurant that served noodles and rice bowls inspired by the cuisines of
Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Unfortunately, it seems that customers weren’t
ready for the chain’s take on Asian flavors, which featured fresh ingredients and nuanced
flavors a far cry from the sweet, fried orange chicken at Panda Express. In 2017, the chain closed all of its locations,
and announced on its website that it was, quote, “Closed. Like, forever closed.” That’s
sad news for fans of Shophouse Asian Kitchen who may have hoped that the chain would someday
see the light in another form. Chipotle may have been looking to cut costs after a few
years of health scandals. Or perhaps Shophouse locations were too dispersed across the country,
so it never achieved the brand recognition it would have needed to be a success. Jamie Oliver is a British chef and television
star known for his cooking shows, cookbooks, and involvement in programs that give culinary
experience opportunities to underprivileged youth. He’s also known for advocating for
healthier school lunches both in Britain and the U.S. One thing he wasn’t able to do? Keep
his Italian restaurant chain, Jamie’s Italian, afloat. The chain first reported trouble in 2017,
when it was hurt after the Brexit vote. The cost of imported ingredients rose and the
value of the British pound fell. Oliver invested 12.7 million pounds of his own money to keep
the chain afloat, and also secured a loan, but it wasn’t enough. He was forced to put
his business into administration to protect against bankruptcy in 2019, closing all but
three of his restaurants in the UK, which also meant that more than 1,000 workers found
themselves without a job. “I’ve been so stressed. I’ve been-” Those who really fancy Oliver’s take on Italian
cuisine can still get a taste at one of his 25 international locations of Jamie’s Italian,
thanks to contracts with food service giant Aramark and other franchisees. Like we need to tell you, Gordon Ramsay is
one of the biggest celebrity chefs in the world. He’s received multiple Michelin stars,
both as a chef for hire and at his own restaurants. So how did his Los Angeles restaurant, Fat
Cow, fail so spectacularly? Fat Cow opened in Los Angeles in 2012 and
immediately faced problems. Not only was the food panned by critics in LA Weekly, who said
it wasn’t worth the high price tag nor better than your standard mall restaurant fare, but
there were personnel problems to deal with, too. Though the restaurant allegedly closed due
to trademark issues over the name, it was mired with legal troubles while it was open.
First, Ramsay was sued by a contractor who claimed they were shorted about $45,000 for
their work. Then, a class-action lawsuit was filed by employees who said they weren’t paid
minimum wage, didn’t get overtime pay, and were forced to skip meal breaks. Even after
the closure, the restaurant caused trouble for Ramsay, who was sued by one of his business
partners for $10 million. Carla Hall started out as a runway model,
tried her hand at catering, competed on two seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef, became a co-host
on the food talk show The Chew, and, eventually, opened up her own restaurant. Carla Hall’s
Southern Kitchen was a fast-casual restaurant specializing in Nashville hot chicken in a
trendy Brooklyn neighborhood. But the restaurant, which was in the works for two and a half
years before opening, closed after just a year, in 2017. The restaurant faced several challenges, including
a fire that caused a temporary closure, followed by the general manager leaving, followed by
a temporary closure to “retool” the restaurant that turned into a permanent closing. Hall
says that there were several factors that contributed to the restaurant’s closure, including
the fact that she didn’t have a traditional investment partner to begin with. She initially
relied on Kickstarter funding, which caused a huge social media backlash. “Hootie hoo, Kickstarters!” She also said that the location, though it
came with a reasonable rent, was too far from the center of the city to attract the number
of customers needed to keep the business afloat. Hall also acknowledged that though she’s got
serious cooking chops, she had never opened or run a restaurant before, meaning there
was a huge learning curve for her. Next time, and she doesn’t rule out there being a next
time, she says she’ll be sure not to make the same mistakes. Some celebrity-helmed restaurants end up closing
because they open in locations with too little foot traffic. Other times, the price of scoring
a primo location is so high that it causes an otherwise successful restaurant to shut
its doors. Such was the case with Guy Fieri’s American
Kitchen & Bar in New York City’s Times Square. The restaurant itself seemed like a financial
success, raking in $17 million in sales annually, but it turns out that with a rent of an estimated
$1.8 million a year, it just couldn’t sustain itself in its location. The restaurant would
have needed to make $30 million annually to turn a profit, considering its other operational
costs. Still, the restaurant was open for five years
before it closed in 2017. And though the food at the restaurant was critically panned, the
New York Times called the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders “very far from awesome”, it
managed to weather the reviews and stay in business for nearly half a decade. These days, Fieri fans have a wealth of dining
options outside of Time Square, at 17 restaurants nationally and as far away as Mexico and South
Africa. Or, they can enjoy the chef’s antics from their couches, watching him on his shows
Guy’s Grocery Games and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Mario Batali was one of the biggest names
in the food world, starring in shows on Food Network, co-hosting the popular ABC talk show
The Chew, and running several popular restaurants. But his name became infamous after an expose
published by Eater revealed that four former employees were accusing the chef of sexual
misconduct. The story became graver still after a 60 Minutes piece uncovered more allegations,
and the New York Police Department opened an investigation into the accusations. Soon, it was announced that Batali’s three
Las Vegas restaurants would be closing, after the Palazzo and Venetian resort casinos decided
to end their relationship with the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group following the
allegations. Then, in 2019, it was announced that Batali
would be giving up his stake in all of his restaurants and in Eataly, after being bought
out by his partners. His former partners in the B & B Hospitality Group said that the
chef, quote, “will no longer profit from the restaurants in any way, shape or form.” Check out one of our newest videos right here!
Plus, even more Mashed videos about the restaurant business are coming soon. Subscribe to our
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  1. Happy Hour Girl Kola

    Kenny Rogers Rotisserie in Hollywood was so good. I loved dining at the Four Season in Beverly Hills during the time this restaurant was open. The food is much better than before. Roy Choi should’ve stuck with his food truck it was popular downtown. Gordon Ramsey restaurant at the Grove sucked big time. It wasn’t worth the hype. Guy’s Las Vegas restaurant is decent but overrated and overpriced.

  2. PayinAttention

    Aside from The Four Seasons and the Chipotle experiements, these are mostly celebrity tie-in places. People have figured out that paying 35%+ more for a meal because some famous person's face is on the sign is stupid, that's all.

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