Restaurant industry collapsing across the US, with several popular chains permanently CLOSING DOWN numerous locations

Restaurant industry collapsing across the US, with several popular chains permanently CLOSING DOWN numerous locations

Several U.S. restaurant chains are closing down different locations across the country to streamline operations and cut costs – a consequence of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and labor shortages. A report by the Daily Mail named several chains that downsized their operations, including several familiar brands.


Casual dining chain Applebee’s has closed around 300 stores since 2016, including 13 locations it shuttered in 2022. Applebee’s President Tony Moralejo said in a March 2023 earnings call that building new restaurants was too expensive and that launching additional stores was going to be difficult. The restaurant made headlines in 2022 when one of its ads was aired alongside footage of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Chicken joint and sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings closed down 45 branches between November 2020 and March 2023. In particular, locations in Colorado, Illinois, Florida and Virginia have all closed in 2022 alone. The restaurant was sued for $9 million by an Illinois man who accused the joint of deceptive marketing; a judge later threw out the frivolous complaint.


Known for its all-day breakfast, Denny’s had more than 1,600 locations in the U.S. in 2017. By 2022, however, this dwindled to 1,445 – equating to more than 150 locations shuttering. A lawsuit forced locations in North and South Carolina to close, while local outlets in Connecticut, Oregon and New York also closed down. Denny’s suffered from staffing issues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with one viral video from August 2022 showing two patrons helping out a lone employee.


Known for its pancakes, IHOP hit some issues with regard to expanding its operations. It originally intended to open around 60 branches in 2022, but ended the year with only 40 openings – two-thirds of its original target. IHOP President Jay Johns said in March 2023 that the joint will focus on retrofitting old structures instead.


Known for its toasted submarine sandwiches, Quiznos once had more than 5,000 locations across the U.S. during its glory days in the mid-2000s. Since then, the number of locations fell to 2,800 by 2010, and to just 671 by 2016. Quiznos was left with 255 branches in 2021 and as March 14, it only had 153 locations open.

Steak ‘n Shake

Steak ‘n Shake boasted of more than 600 stores around the country in the first quarter of 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of nearly 60 stores, and the closure of another 30 followed in 2022. Nevertheless, Steak ‘n Shake has remained afloat thanks to a $50 million investment in ordering kiosks.


Sandwich joint Subway has around 20,600 stores in the country as of Feb. 27, 2023 – a reduction of more than 5,000 stores compared to its almost 26,000 stores recorded in 2017. “We just want to focus on quality in the footprint in the U.S. as opposed to quantity,” said CEO John Chidsey. The establishment is no stranger to controversy, as its former spokesman Jared Fogle had been prosecuted for child sexual abuse.

TGI Fridays

Established in 1965, TGI Fridays suffered a huge blow during the heyday of the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in May 2020, Bloomberg reported that the chain could close down as many as 20 percent of its restaurants. True enough, this wave of closures continued – with TGI Fridays locations in Massachusetts and Texas shutting down for good in March 2023 alone.

Watch this video about restaurants struggling to find employees because of unemployment benefits.

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