Most failed restaurants have a nice concept, but a terrible execution or just poor luck–and that’s what causes them to fail. But, not all restaurants start off with a good idea. In fact, some restaurants, like Sambo’s start off with a terrible, off-key idea that really has no place in polite society.
The racist tale of Sambo’s is one that remains notorious among foodies and restaurant business scholars. However, it’s not alone when it comes to terrible concepts that ended up spelling certain doom for restaurants. These forgotten failures prove that bad ideas are more common than you’d think.
1.The Coon Chicken Inn
If you thought that Sambo’s restaurant concept was bad, wait until you see this disaster of a chain. Once a popular chain in the Salt Lake City area, the Coon Chicken Inn was known for using “black minstrel” dolls and themes to peddle their fried chicken. Figures in blackface, “Mammy” dolls, and exaggerated caricatures were the norm.
Though the business boomed in the 1920s, people got better sense. The entire chain closed in the 1950s as people began to realize how absurdly racist it was. Today, the business founders’ descendants regularly decry the restaurant’s racist past, proving that people have gotten wiser.
2.Death Row Dinners
In London, two chefs recently decided to create a restaurant based on the final meals of American convicted murderers. The meals, which were recipes derived from the orders of serial killers, were all placed on the menu.
Appetizing as some of the food may have been, people obviously felt a little unsettled about eating the final meal of a criminal. The restaurant was panned for being in poor taste, and quickly shut down.
3.Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania!
You know what two things have nothing in common? Wrestling and friggin’ pasta. The Hulkster himself touted the restaurant as a great concept and even got some plugs on the pro-wrestling circuit.
The food itself was appallingly bad and basically relied on wrestling fandom to buy into it. Unfortunately, most people weren’t willing to pay a premium price for Spaghetti-O’s. It flopped within a year.
4.The Fashion Cafe
If there’s one thing that models are really not known for doing, it’s eating. So, why a bunch of supermodels decided to open up an international chain of restaurants dedicated to fashion makes little sense to most of us. And yet, that’s how the Fashion Cafe was born.
The interior was decorated with photos of pin-thin models doing just about everything but eating. The menu had little to do with anything diet-friendly, giving it a very fake ambiance and very little street cred. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant chain tanked immediately.
5.Kenny Rogers’ Roasters
Country music and chicken dinners go together like peanut butter and jelly, so you might be wondering what happened here. The answer is actually quite interesting. Country music star Kenny Rogers started the chain because he was concerned about his health and wanted quality chicken.
The problem is that American country fans don’t really like roasted, low-sodium chicken as much as they do deep fried artery cloggers. The concept failed here, but it thrived abroad. Go figure.