In a blow to diners with poor taste in food, Bennigan’s Grill & Tavern shuttered all of its corporate-owned locations overnight as it declared bankruptcy. Founded in Atlanta in 1976, Bennigan’s was the granddaddy of crap-themed restaurants popularized in the 1980’s.
Metromedia Restaurant Group, the parent company of Bennigan’s based in Plano, Texas, announced on Tuesday that it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The move immediately shut 160 corporate-owned Bennigan’s restaurants (nearly 160 franchised restaurants remain open). The company also immediately closed 58 Stake And Ale locations. Both chains are expected to be liquidated for their assets.
Bennigan’s moved into national prominence in the early 1980’s when it help pioneer the casual dining craze that would expand the waistlines of middle Americans over the next two decades. At first offering fresh, local products, the chain was forced by financial circumstances to move to a bulk-produced model of food distribution by the late 1980’s which increased the amount of salt and fat fed to its customers. This model – along with the chain’s kitschy approach to decor – would soon be followed by successor casual dining restaurants like Chilli’s and T.G.I. Fridays.
Although, as eight-year-old kid in the 1980’s, the chain’s fried Monte Cristo sandwich with powdered sugar and raspberry dipping sauce was to die for. But then again, anything deep fried tastes great to a kid.
There are no Bennigan’s locations in D.C. and the company hasn’t released a list of corporate-owned restaurants that have closed. Calls to the nearest location in Rockville went unreturned. Although nearly 160 franchise operations remain open, it is unclear how stable those operations will be without the support of a corporate partner.