(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A restaurant that was once a staple of shopping centers and office parks could be making a comeback.
Bennigan's was a pioneer in the world of casual sit-down dining. It served basic American comfort food in restaurants that were designed to look like an old-fashioned Irish pub. It was known for “Monte Cristo” sandwiches.
Bennigan's was founded in 1976. It paved the way for competitors like Applebee's and Chili's, which eventually crowded Bennigan's out of the marketplace.
While some independent Bennigan's remain, the corporate-owned restaurants shut down in 2008.
Now, the hedge fund that bought the Bennigan's name is scouting out locations for expansion.
Owners hope nostalgia for the old Bennigan's and their "Blues Busters" commercials will attract customers to the new locations.
One restaurant traffic analyst said nostalgia only works so well. He suggested that Bennigan's find a niche and do it well.
"As this company is looking to revive itself and re-establish the brand, that's the advice I would give them. Focus on one thing, do it well, and make it stand out," said RJ Hottovy of the foot traffic analysis firm Placer AI on the WBBM Noon Business Hour.