15 Vintage Restaurant Chains We Wish Never Closed Down

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Part of growing up is saying goodbye to the wonderful stores and restaurants that you grew up with. We miss these 15 chains most of all:

1. Kenny Rogers Roasters

This strange collaboration between country music star Kenny Rogers and KFC magnate John Y. Brown actually drew good reviews, and spread to more than 350 locations. It was killed here in the states by competition from other casual dining chains, but it's still thriving in Asia.

A modern Kenny Rogers Roasters in Asia.Eric Jaz Foodies

How does Rogers feel about the chain's failure? He says that mainly he misses "those little corn muffins that actually had corn in them."

2. Steak and Ale

This sit-down restaurant introduced the self-serve salad bar, and it was also well known for being dirt cheap - $2 filet mignon, anyone? The chain spread to over 100 locations in 24 states, but lost customers to modern chains like Applebees. Surprisingly, a new Steak and Ale is opening this year, 10 years after the last one closed.

New Steak and Ale restaurants could be opening soon.Biz Journals

3. Chi-Chi's

If you love Tex-Mex food, you can thank this chain. It popularized the style when it introduced menu items like grande nachos. It flourished from the late '70s to early '90s before bankruptcy and a massive hepatitis A outbreak (three people died) finished the franchise. You can still buy their sauce in some grocery stores.

4. Burger Chef

In the 1960s, Burger Chef was actually a strong competitor for McDonald's and had just 100 less locations across the country. When it peaked in 1971, there were 1,200 Burger Chef restaurants in America. The chain also introduced the Fun Meal, the first kiddie meal to include a plastic toy.

Cardboard packaging for a Fun Meal.The Sphinx

Chris's Burgers in Rialto, California was transformed into a "Burger Chef" for an episode of Mad Men, so you should plan a visit if you're feeling nostalgic.

Chris's Burgers in Rialto, California.Road Arch

5. Lum's

This restaurant's unusual signature dish was beer-steamed hot dogs, but it was actually their innovative glass doors that made this chain a success. By 1969, Lum's was so successful the owner's bought the Caesar's Palace casino for $60 million. Meanwhile, the chain switched hands and eventually went bankrupt.

Do you remember these restaurants? How about the rest of these chains...

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