Thursday, Feb. 09, 2012

Kenny Rogers Roasters

For more than a decade and a half, Kenny Rogers Roasters was an institution drenched in Americana. In 1991, when Texas native and country music legend Kenny Rogers wanted enter the fast food business, he teamed up with John Y. Young, the former Kentucky governor who had once owned Kentucky Fried Chicken. Their venture expanded to more than 350 restaurants and garnered such a loyal following that the entire "The Chicken Roaster" episode of Seinfeld was based on the franchise. But alas, after only seven years, the chain closed all but seven of its stores and filed for bankruptcy. Kenny Rogers Roasters was then bought by another American institution, Nathan's Famous, Inc. — host of the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest — who kept the chain alive for another 10 years. Though most of the U.S.-based outlets closed around 2008 when Nathan's sold Kenny's Roasters to Asian franchiser Baerjaya Group, the Gambler's chicken continues to thrive today in Malaysia and the Philippines.