If you’ve ever seen a local McDonald’s or Wendy’s restaurant suddenly close its doors, you may not have done much about it. Chances are there’s a new one under construction within a radius of several miles. When Burger King made the news in 2020 after closure of 319 pitcheshe not only replaced those restaurants the following year, he also built 24 more to start.
The story is a little different for smaller scale regional channels, however. Whether planned or not, the closures of these chains can be felt for years. The Midwest sandwich chain Potbelly, for example, declined steadily between 2017 and 2021. Similarly, Southeast burger chain Krystal lost 76 locations between 2017 and 2020.
Here’s a look at four other popular channels that are currently shrinking. And for more, check out 3 great pizza chains that are falling out of favor with customers.
All things considered, Carl’s Jr. is doing just fine. The company celebrated the opening of its 1,000th international website in mid-2021, while recording its highest ever sales per store (estimated at approximately $1.25 million). Technically, however, the chain is currently shrinking: based on data reported by catering company, Carl’s Jr.’s U.S. footprint peaked in 2016 at 1,163 units. Since then, it has lost about 15 to 20 stores per year, reaching 1,063 in 2020. A Forbes one estimate puts the number of stores in 2021 at just over 1000.
As one of Boston Market creditors put it in 1998around the time Boston Market went bankrupt declaring $283 million in debt, “They just grew too quickly, and the concept got boring… They won’t liquidate, but they’re going to have to shrink a lot.”
More than two decades later, the lender is still right: from a peak of around 1,100 stores in 1998, Boston Market’s store count continues to decline, with the loss of more than 100 locations between 2016 and 2020. A recent estimate places the Boston market Footprint 2022 in only 340 restaurants.
The once-popular sandwich chain, which in its heyday, had a footprint of nearly 5,000 restaurants– is in decline since at least 2007. The current number of Quiznos stores is less than a tenth of what it once was: with just 255 locations in 2021, the chain has lost 94% of its entire system in just 15 years. A recent estimate puts the Quiznos 2022 footprint at just 156 units.
But Quiznos hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. The chain is hoping for a return as a virtual brand, expanding to more than 100 ghost kitchens through a partnership with Ghost Kitchen Brands.
Founded in 1921, White Castle is the longest-running fast food restaurant chain in United States history. Unlike other major brands, however, White Castle does not franchise its restaurants. More than a century after its foundation, it remains, according to Forbesa “niche chain”.
Burger slinger revenue increased between 2015 and 2020reinforced, in part, by sale of its products in supermarkets. Over the same five-year period, the chain’s footprint has shrunk, with a loss of around 30 units. In 2022, White Castle has an estimate 349 pitches.