Beloved Regional Burger Chain Officially Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Kuma's Corner, famous for its thick burgers, is the latest eatery on the brink of closure.

woman hanging closed sign on door
Updated July 18, 2024
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It's been a tough year for the restaurant industry so far.

While Red Lobster has been the latest restaurant chain to close its doors, a beloved Midwestern burger chain is set to follow suit, having filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Kuma's Corner, a Chicago burger joint with three locations in the city and another in Indianapolis has filed for bankruptcy in hopes of reviving its business. Ron Cain, Kuma's president and director of operations, cited post-pandemic related struggles, such as indoor dining and capacity restrictions, as the reasoning behind the filing. 

Buckle up because 2024 could see several familiar names disappear from the dining landscape. Is your go-to spot on borrowed time?

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billtster/Adobe krystal burgers outlet from outside

Founded in the 1930s, Krystal has been slinging the original smash burgers for nearly 100 years. But that doesn't mean it's immune from a challenging economic climate.

During the pandemic, Krystal filed for bankruptcy, and things haven't improved in the years that have followed. There's new ownership, so the tides could change, but burger and fry fans should keep their fingers crossed.


Astarot/Adobe attractive woman taking bite of burger

While Fuddruckers’ made-from-scratch hamburger buns may be beloved by its fans, its 1980s star is waning. The burger and shake chain has closed so many locations that it’s now down to 60 spots to get a fresh bun and a grilled patty. 

It came under new ownership recently, but that may not be enough to save this classic burger favorite.

Steak n’ Shake

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe steak n shake sign port richey

A decrease in restaurants from 626 in 2018 to 493 in 2023 isn’t a great sign for Steak n’ Shake. But, for those who can’t get enough of its famous Steakburgers or its iconic Frisco sauce, they won’t be surprised that its sales aren’t actually down. 

That could be the saving grace for now — even if it’s at odds with the closures.

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Dave Willman/Adobe applebee's sign on restaurant outside wall

Applebee’s had its heyday, and while it’s tried to continue to bring customers through its doors with new dishes and offerings, it’s just not working. People want organic, local — that’s not Applebee’s.

It has closed about 300 locations since 2017, and unless things change dramatically (as in people start falling for their happy hour gimmicks), you might not be able to get one of its chicken quesadillas for much longer.

Buffalo Wild Wings

jetcityimage/Adobe buffalo wild wings restaurant from outside

If you’ve ever watched a football game over wings and beer at Buffalo Wild Wings, you understand the chain’s appeal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be enough for customers.

First, there was the court appearance over serving chicken breast disguised as boneless wings. Then, all of its Canadian locations closed. Unless there’s a significant turnaround in the near future, Buffalo Wild Wings’ days could be numbered.

Piccadilly Restaurants

_jure/Adobe culinary buffet dinner with various dishes

Piccadilly Restaurants first opened its all-you-can-eat cafeteria in the 1930s. Over the next several decades, it became a favorite of families looking to feed their broods.

However, its popularity has waned, mainly as people grew squeamish about buffets during the pandemic, and locations throughout the South have shuttered. Rumor is it might be closing time on the buffet line.

Old Country Buffet

Microgen/Adobe family having buffet dinner on cruise

With only 13 locations remaining from its height of 600, Old Country Buffet has been on the downswing. And that’s in large part due to repeated bankruptcy filings.

First, there was 2008, then 2012, then 2016, then, just when you wondered how many times one company can file for bankruptcy, there was 2021. It’s unclear why they haven’t pulled the plug yet, but this could be the year.


fudio/Adobe steak and cheese sub on table

Everybody loves toasted subs, right? Maybe not. The home of the toasted sub, Quiznos, has seen one of the most dramatic restaurant chain declines. 

The fast-casual chain had 4,700 locations across the world at its peak. Now, it hovers under 200. Rumors are that bad business practices may have played a role in the rapid fall.

White Castle

wolterke/Adobe white castle restaurant from outside

The burger joint that inspired grocery store freezer food, a movie, and more was founded in 1921. 

However, the company faces a $17 billion lawsuit regarding a digital identification system using fingerprints that violated Illinois privacy laws. A payout of the amount could ruin most companies.

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Gilang/Adobe people enjoying buffet food indoor

A buffet steakhouse had a time and place, but as buffets continue to plummet in popularity, so have Sizzler’s sales. The restaurant has been on the decline for years. Currently, less than 100 locations exist nationwide. This could be the year their last steak is sizzled.

Ruby Tuesday

JHVEPhoto/Adobe ruby tuesday sign in niagara falls

Could it be time to say goodbye to the salad bar? Ruby Tuesday, the beloved American chain, filed for bankruptcy in 2020. 

However, that wasn’t the end of its story. The restaurant continues to exist across the country, but the number of locations is just over 200, roughly a 70% decrease from its peak.

Boston Market

jetcityimage/Adobe boston market fast casual restaurant

While Boston Market still has over 300 locations, it’s been in a serious decline from its peak of 1,200 restaurants. Part of that decline may be due to its poor treatment of its employees.

There have been allegations of mistreatment and outstanding wages, and those missing wages led to a significant payout plus fines to the wronged franchisees. If it’s going to survive, Boston Market needs a major overhaul in how it treats its own.


wolterke/Adobe hooters logo outside restaurant

While Hooters may be a well-known name in the cultural lexicon, its ubiquity has declined. It peaked at 430 restaurants but now is down to just over 300. 

The chain restaurant saw major declines during the pandemic, and other organizational issues are adding to its troubles.

Ruth’s Chris

jetcityimage/Adobe ruth's chris steak house restaurant

Closing one location doesn’t necessarily spell trouble — except when it’s an iconic location. Ruth’s Chris closed its landmark New York City steakhouse, a fixture near Times Square. 

Currently, the closure doesn’t appear to be spreading to other locations, but it does draw attention to what was once a fixture in the city.

Kuma's Corner

Famous for its thick and juicy-style burgers, loaded with toppings, Kuma's Corner, a Chicago-based chain with four locations in the Midwest, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

The burger joint is beloved for innovative burgers like the "Sourvein," which is topped with chicken tenders, bacon, cheddar, strips of Belgian waffle, raspberry aioli, and maple syrup. However, the lingering effects of pandemic-related restrictions, such as capacity limitations, have proven too much to keep Kuma's afloat. 

Bottom line

cherryandbees/Adobe man doing contactless payment at restaurant

Each chain restaurant on this list faces unique challenges in trying to get ahead financially

But they also share the common thread of dedicated individuals working tirelessly to deliver exceptional dining experiences. 

As they navigate 2024, let's celebrate their resilience and the successes they achieve along the way.

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Author Details

Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.