HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Seven chains that are on the verge of extinction

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We had breakfast at Sambo's in Santa Barbara, probably 30 years ago. We'd never seen USDA Small eggs before. Never went back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: judybird

      We ate at that Sambo's about a year ago, and it was actually fairly good. Hash browns were nicely browned and crispy on the outside, potato-ey and practically creamy on the inside, and the basket of free mini-muffins was really nice (choco-chip and orange, IIRC). We would probably go back if we ever found ourselves in the area at breakfast time.

    2. We have a ground round near Asbury Park

      1. If Bennigans ever vanishes, part of Americana and the traditional Monte Cristo will die a little bit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          RIP Stage Deli in NYC. They had a great Monte Cristo.

        2. It is hard for me to work up much nostalgia for those chains. Chi-chi's, for instance, totally sucked and wasn't Bennigans pretty much like TGI Fridays? I do have a fond memory of going to a Ground Round in Rochester, MN, when my sister lived there. Fun post-sport venue with peanuts you could eat and toss shells on the ground.

          Sambos....my dad wouldn't let us get anywhere near that one.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tcamp

            Chi-Chi's was the kind of Mexican restaurant that would seem exotic and authentic in Minneapolis-- maybe because that's where that culinary chain atrocity started out....

            I have nightmares of cheese-and-sour-cream-and-"guacamole"-covered chimichangas and over-cheesed "nachos" at a Pittsburgh-area Chi-Chi's. Luckily NOT the one where that horrifying Hep-A outbreak occurred.

            Since I moved out to southern CA I have thankfully had much, MUCH better Mexican-American food and don't patronize places like that.

            Steak and Ale...? I remember that place. When you're middle-class and pre-teen, your folks took you there after games, concerts, and for birthdays. Hey, a sit-down joint with stainless-steel utensils! How special. But, as I recall, the steaks were not half-bad. However, my standards back then were damn low...!

          2. I waited tables at a Ground Round in the 80s. One of the worst jobs I ever had!

            2 Replies
            1. re: ttoommyy

              I was a hostess at the ground round in West Orange NJ for most of my college years. Lots of fun memories, worked with a great crew of people. I was in charge of making the popcorn, which I have to say was really good when I made it.

              1. re: michele cindy

                We had a great crew but the food was so bad that all I did was bring stuff back and deal with unhappy customers.

            2. Steak and Ale was once the "Outback" for the middle class. The place you went to to celebrate those important occassions. Big eaters flocked to their Prime Rib.

              2 Replies
              1. re: crewsweeper

                I recall Steak & Ale when I was in high school. Already, it had earned the nickname Ache & Stale among the smartasses I knew.

                1. re: Tripeler

                  I worked there for one week, now that was one of the worst jobs I ever had, really bad managers.

              2. Farrells--
                Love's BBQ--

                Gone with my youth.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kholvaitar

                  Ahhh Farrells. Used to go to the Escondido location as a kid with my family. Loved the Tin Roof Sunday and anytime someone had a birthday.

                  1. re: Kholvaitar

                    Farrell's is attempting to make a comeback. A new ownership group bought them a few years ago and are slowly opening up a few stores in California. See history section on their site


                    1. re: Kholvaitar

                      I wish they would bring Love's back. I can still taste their ribs and beans. Superb!

                    2. "Welcome to Chi-Chi's here are our complimentary chips, with your choice of hot or mild salsa". Oh yea......who has two thumbs and use to be a "sa" (servers assistant) at Chi-Chi's in Woodbridge NJ???? This guy!!!

                      It was a good job till the Woodbridge Police raided the place one night because one of the cooks was selling "pot" out of the back kitchen door. I thought it was odd we were receiving so many parsley and oregano deliveries all night.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        We used to go to that ChiChi's every once in a while. Usually when the line at Jose Tejas was too long & we didn't want to wait. It's now Cheesburger In Paradise/Bonefish Grill.

                        1. re: Jerzeegirl

                          Yes ma'am that's the one! I worked there from 1985-86. Only one year, I broke my leg in football and was in a cast for about 12 weeks, I never returned to work after that.

                          I actually got a job as a cook at the Ponderossa at the Ocean County Mall for a year or two after that.

                          1. re: jrvedivici

                            I have a bizarre "gift" I received with the Ponderosa logo on it: a Christmas ornament. Guess it was a promo for some dish they served. Funny, but it's never been hung on a Christmas tree, but I still never threw it out.

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              There was a Ponderosa near my old apartment in Old Bridge. We used to ask if Hop Sing was the cook. They were not amused. Didn't last long, became a night club & that didn't last long either.

                        2. Our Bennigans became Victoria Gastroppub. Good change if you ask me.

                          1. There is a Ground Round in an otherwise dead shopping mall in Frederick, MD and a Chi-chi's only a few hundred yards away. A Bennigan's opened in Clarksburg, MD about 6 months ago. They all appear to be toddling along. Frederick also has 6 Roy Rogers in operation. Center MD is the home of the undead chains.

                            1. I remember when Steak and Ale closed in Tulsa. It simply didn't update itself to compete when Outback, Longhorn and the like came to town.(Not to mention the excellent locally-owned steak houses) It had the very old fashioned, dark red booths, mens-club atmosphere. I only visited it once. Was sad to see it go, just because it had been around so long, but it wasn't a place i was eager to go visit to actually eat.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Firegoat

                                Now you have me really missing J.J. Cale.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Now I'm depressed. I didn't realize he had passed. :(