America’s Chain Restaurants Are Going Bankrupt

Record number of fast-casual dining chains are shutting down locations to shoulder declining interest.


According to market research company NPD Group Inc., the growth of fast-casual restaurants have outpaced demand, forcing many eateries to shutter or file for bankruptcy. Affected chains include buffet restaurant group Ovation Brands (parent company to Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, and Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse), which filed for bankruptcy on March 7, closing 166 restaurants nationwide. Three chains—Cosi, Inc., Rita Restaurant, and Garden Fresh Restaurant (parent of Souplantation)—all filed for bankruptcy in the same one week period between late September and early October. According to Wall Street Journal, older millennials—which NPD found were dining out 50 times less per capita in the past decade—are responsible for the downturn, as they have more options such as meal delivery services like Blue Apron, and are more interested in cooking, especially given low grocery prices. Industry executives warn that in order to stay relevant, restaurants must rethink their menus to offer options that are compelling to millennials while also featuring third-party delivery options. Conversely, vegan chains such as by CHLOE—which announced plans for its eighth location last week—continue to expand as plant-based diets become more popular amongst millennial diners.