Best once super-popular food chains that are almost extinct in the U.S.
Mar 23, 2021||Tips , Travel

Restaurants come and go all the time, but we all have those special places that we just kind of assume will be around forever (like that mall kiosk that sold nothing but pager accessories). Unfortunately, the economic climate and Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog about kale and culottes have had a negative effect on a lot of old favorites. Many of the restaurant chains you know and love are on the verge of complete extinction, so get your last comfort-food fix while you still can.

Here are a few awesome restaurant chains that are now practically extinct:

Tony Roma’s 

I used to love going to Tony Roma’s as a kid. Back then, I was under the impression that it was fine dining and a super-big deal that my parents would take me to some place so classy. I understand now that Tony Roma’s wasn’t exactly Chez Expensive, and that they told me it was so I would act like a human being during the meal, but, hands down, they still have the best ribs I’ve ever tasted. Tony Roma’s used to be “the largest restaurant chain specializing in ribs in the world.” But now they have closed 72% of their locations, which is 116 restaurants, and they are down to a measly 46 remaining locations. They are still fairly popular in international locations, but they have all but disappeared from the U.S. If you’re like me and Tony Roma’s is still your jam, find one that’s close to you and get your rib eating on, before they are gone for good.


It really was The Country’s Best Yogurt, but now it’s almost impossible find some among the fro-yo shops popping up on every corner. TCBY was started in Arkansas in 1981 and was later bought out by the Mrs. Fields Holding in 2000. The combo frozen yogurt and cookie shops did not really work out, forcing them to close over 1,300 stores to avoid bankruptcy (way to go, Mrs. Fields). They have closed 77% of their stores, 1,372 locations total, leaving only 405. If you have fond memories of this little frozen yogurt shop and want one last taste, act quickly because they are not standing the test of time (unlike my signature concoction of strawberry frozen yogurt, gummy bears and hot fudge––shut up, it’s delicious).

Big Boy

This iconic diner, known for its overall-wearing, burger-eating mascot, was once as recognizable and beloved as McDonalds (in the down-home, classic American eatery kind of way, not in the type II diabetes sense). Now Big Boy has closed over 65% of their locations––that’s 265 stores––and they are down to just 140 total. If you’re craving one of their juicy burgers or you want to high-five the Big Boy statue one last time, find one of the remaining locations near you.


Remember this Irish-themed restaurant and bar? It was so enmeshed in American culture, it was featured in multiple South Park episodes (South Park is obviously the best barometer by which to measure the importance of, um, anything…). Bennigan’s was established in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1976 and quickly grew to become one of America’s best-known casual-dining franchises. Their menu includes the world-famous Monte Cristo and their theme, “where every day is St. Paddy’s Day,” kept the customers coming for decades. Unfortunately this restaurant chain is no longer thriving and has closed 88% of its stores––that’s 247 locations–– and they are down to less than 25 in total.

Hurry to a location near your Gia stay and get your last comfort-food fix while you still can!