The Great Restaurant Exodus: Why Iconic Chains Are Closing in 2024

A sad Tampa Business Broker standing outside of a restaurant that closed that he couldn't sell

In 2024, the restaurant industry is witnessing an unprecedented wave of closures, with many popular chains shutting down locations across the country. The reasons behind these closures are multifaceted, involving economic challenges, operational inefficiencies, and shifting consumer preferences.

Notable Restaurant Closures

Red Lobster: Red Lobster has closed dozens of locations abruptly in 2024, including in major markets like California, Florida, and Texas. The chain has struggled with high lease and labor costs, and rumors of a potential bankruptcy filing have circulated. Co-owner Thai Union Group, one of the world’s largest seafood suppliers, announced its intention to exit its minority investment in the chain, further compounding its financial instability.

TGI Fridays: This chain has closed 36 underperforming locations across multiple states as part of its strategy to strengthen its franchise model and drive future growth​ (Eat This Not That)​​ (​.

Hardee’s: This chain has seen significant closures across the Midwest and South. Summit Restaurant Holdings, a major franchisee, declared bankruptcy in 2023 and closed 39 restaurants in eight states, including Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. These closures continue through 2024 affecting locations in Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois​ (NRN)​​ (FinanceBuzz)​.

Boston Market: Facing severe financial troubles, Boston Market has seen its number of locations plummet from 300 to 27. The closures stem from unpaid bills, state-mandated shutdowns, and numerous lawsuits​ (​​ (Mashed)​.

Mod Pizza: In March 2024, Mod Pizza shuttered 27 locations due to underperformance, not economic factors. The closures affected restaurants across several states, including California and New Jersey​ (​.

Outback Steakhouse: Bloomin’ Brands, the parent company of Outback, announced the closure of 41 “underperforming” locations. Most of these restaurants were older assets with leases from the ’90s and early 2000s, which required significant investments to modernize​ (

Factors Contributing to Closures

Economic Pressures: Rising inflation and increased operational costs have made profitability a challenge. For instance, Denny’s cited inflation as a key reason for its closures​ (Eat This Not That)​.

Underperformance: Chains are closing underperforming stores to focus on more profitable locations, a strategy seen with TGI Fridays and Mod Pizza​ (Eat This Not That)​​ (​.

Legal and Financial Troubles: Boston Market’s closures highlight the impact of legal issues and financial mismanagement on restaurant operations​ (​​ (Mashed)​.

Changing Consumer Preferences: The shift towards digital and delivery services has significantly impacted traditional dine-in chains, challenging those slow to adapt​ (​.

The Challenge for Sellers
At TAMBAY, we have found it increasingly difficult to sell restaurants. The current economic environment, coupled with evolving consumer preferences, has made potential buyers wary. However, this period also presents an opportunity for restaurant owners to adapt and innovate.

Adapting to New Consumer Preferences
For restaurant owners, sticking with their businesses and adapting to new consumer preferences can be a viable strategy. Here are some recommendations:

-Embrace Technology: Invest in digital platforms for online ordering and delivery services. This can cater to the growing demand for convenience and safety.
-Diversify Offerings: Introduce new menu items that cater to health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers.
-Enhance Customer Experience: Focus on providing unique dining experiences that cannot be replicated by delivery services, such as themed events or exclusive in-house promotions.
-Leverage Social Media: Use social media to engage with customers, promote new offerings, and build a loyal community.

In conclusion, while the restaurant industry faces significant challenges, there are opportunities for those willing to adapt and evolve. By staying attuned to market trends and consumer preferences, restaurant owners can navigate these turbulent times and position themselves for future success.