July 24, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of the restaurant franchise industry, some names evoke a sense of nostalgia and a longing for simpler times. These are the brands that once dominated the scene, creating memories for countless families and food enthusiasts. Among these legendary names are Bennigan’s, Quiznos, TCBY, Blimpie, and Friendly’s. Each has a unique story marked by rapid success, subsequent challenges, and inspiring comebacks.

Today, new leadership and innovative strategies are breathing new life into these iconic names. As these brands adapt to modern tastes and business practices, they not only preserve their rich legacies but also pave the way for a promising future. Whether through innovative business models, strategic partnerships, or rebranding efforts, these iconic chains are poised to reclaim their positions in the market, bringing joy and delicious memories to diners old and new.

Let’s explore the journeys of these iconic establishments, exploring their rise, fall, and ongoing efforts to reclaim their place in the hearts of customers.

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Since its inception in 1976, Bennigan’s has proudly held the title of the “American Legend.” Under the leadership of Norman Brinker, who also played a pivotal role in the success of Chili’s, Bennigan’s quickly established itself as a powerhouse in the casual family dining sector.

However, the restaurant faced a common industry fate — oversaturation. After several ownership changes, the focus on the core values and franchisees diminished. This decline culminated in Bennigan’s filing for bankruptcy, leading to the closure of all corporate locations and the subsequent downfall of most franchise units.

In a twist of fate, CEO Paul Mangiamele and his wife stepped in to revive the beloved brand. Today, Bennigan’s is trying to make a comeback, with seven U.S. locations, more than a dozen take-out only spots and 15 international locations. With a refreshed business plan and franchising model, Bennigan’s is actively seeking new franchisees to join its resurgence.

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As the oldest operational sub franchise, Blimpie Subs & Salads, affectionately known as Blimpie, experienced a significant boom before facing decline. From nearly 2,000 locations worldwide in 2001, the number dwindled to under 100 by 2024, leading many to assume Blimpie had vanished. The founder’s sale of the company to an investment group in the early 2000s marked the beginning of a downward spiral. Despite efforts in marketing and social media, sales continued to decline, and franchisees struggled with loan defaults.

In response, Blimpie is undergoing a rebranding effort, focusing on modern stores, advanced technology, and comprehensive training and support. This strategic approach aims to restore Blimpie’s reputation and bring its delicious subs back to a global audience.

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The iconic jingle “I want to go to Friendly’s” evokes fond memories, but finding a Friendly’s to visit has become increasingly challenging. Founded during the Great Depression by Prestley and Curtis Blake, Friendly’s expanded from an ice cream shop in New England to a beloved chain offering both ice cream and food. However, declining sales led to bankruptcy filings in 2011 and again in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation.

Thankfully, Amici Partners Group acquired Friendly’s assets, ensuring the continuation of operations. With the introduction of Friendly’s 2.0 Protocol, the brand is revitalizing its image and is once again open to franchising, offering a fresh start for this beloved American institution.

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Who can forget the iconic experience of watching your sub glide through Quiznos’ toaster conveyor belt? Quiznos, the pioneer of the original toasted sub, left an indelible mark on the sub-sandwich industry, boasting over 5,000 locations at its peak. However, poor corporate practices led to a staggering $570 million debt, forcing the company into bankruptcy. The situation worsened as sales plummeted and franchisees clashed with corporate over hidden fees on mandatory supplies.

Now, with a restructured organization, Quiznos is poised for a comeback. The brand is reinvigorating its presence with new franchising opportunities and an innovative modular restaurant concept, designed to fit seamlessly into diverse locations.

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Once a ubiquitous name in the frozen yogurt industry, TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt) was a staple on every corner. As competition grew, the market became saturated with numerous frozen yogurt chains. In 2008, the parent company overseeing TCBY and Mrs. Fields filed for bankruptcy. Yet, hope remained. The synergy of combining TCBY and Mrs. Fields into joint locations breathed new life into both brands. Now, whether you crave frozen yogurt or cookies, these dual-concept stores cater to both indulgences, ensuring TCBY remains a popular choice.

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