8 Restaurant Brands That Rose From the Dead

In early July, Crumbs Bakeshop filed for Chapter 11, only to announce less than two months later that it would be reopening 28 of its 49 locations. If such a sudden turnaround seems shocking, consider how many other prominent chains have been through the ringer and back. Here are eight restaurant brands that have returned from the dead.

1996: Sizzler

In 1996, the Sizzler chain filed for bankruptcy, closing 65 percent of its restaurants. Analysts blamed the all-you-can-eat buffet concept, which didn’t so much sizzle as fizzle. But the company came back, thanks to its original model: tough steak and mediocre salad.

1997: Denny’s

Today there may be a Denny’s lurking around every other freeway exit, but back in the mid-'90s, it wasn’t doing so well. A race-based class-action lawsuit cost the company $54 million in settlements, and in 1997, its parent company, Flagstar, went bankrupt. Denny’s recovered by launching a diversity campaign, and the rest is the freeway clutter we all know and love.

1998: Boston Market

In the mid-'90s, Boston Market took its rotisserie chicken to the nation, moved headquarters, and grew faster than a fryer fattening in a large-scale poultry factory. As a result, the company nearly went under in 1998. McDonald’s took the brand under its wing two years later, purchasing its assets and streamlining operations.

2008: Bennigan’s

Monte Cristo fans across America freaked out when Bennigan’s went belly-up in 2008. But a new management company began reviving the Irish pub chain in 2012. (We use the term “reviving” lightly—some of the new locations have already closed.)

2008: Steak & Ale

Steak & Ale, owned by the same company as Bennigan's, also succumbed to bankruptcy in 2008, but its owners have revealed that they're resuscitating the brand with a “hip” location in Dallas, complete with tableside salad preparations.

2011: Marie Callender’s

In 2011, 31 of the Marie Callender’s restaurants shuttered so suddenly that diners were practically forced to leave mid–pot pie. The company filed for Chapter 11 and re-emerged from bankruptcy later that year.

2011: Dippin’ Dots

In 2011, struggling to find its footing against competitors, Dippin’ Dots filed for bankruptcy protection. Now the "Ice Cream of the Future" is taking a step in a different direction, targeting the school cafeteria instead of the mall.

2011 and 2014: Sbarro

“The food at Sbarro, the pizza and pasta chain, isn’t very good,” the New York Times declared when the chain went bankrupt earlier this year. It was Sbarro’s second such filing in five years, although this time, new owners dug the mall pizza chain out of debt and bankruptcy just three months later. No word if the food ascended along with the company’s fortunes.

Photo Credits: Amadscientist / Sizzler Wikipedia page, Denny’s plate from Joits / Flickr, Boston Market plate from Mel T. / Flickr, Bennigan’s from Phillip/ Flickr, Steak & Ale from John / Flickr, Marie Callender’s from Thomas Hawk / Flickr, Dippin’ Dots from glindsay65 / Flickr, Sbarro’s pizza from Phil Nolan / Flickr

Susannah Chen is a San Francisco–based freelance writer. When she's not cooking or writing, she's on the hunt to find the world's best chilaquiles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.