Long John Silver’s – Deep Fried History
Long John Silver's

Long John Silver’s: The Story

Long John Silver’s, previously recognized as Long John Silver’s Seafood Shoppes and occasionally abbreviated as LJS, stands as an American fast-food restaurant chain with a distinct focus on seafood. Its name finds its origins in the classic novel “Treasure Island” penned by Robert Louis Stevenson, wherein the pirate Long John Silver plays a prominent role. What happened to Long John Silver’s?

Once part of Yum! Brands, the company underwent a transition in September 2011 when it was acquired by a consortium of franchisees. Currently, 80% of the ownership of Long John Silver’s is in the hands of franchisees

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Long John Silver’s: The Start

The inaugural restaurant embarked on its culinary journey on August 18, 1969, in Lexington, Kentucky. This historic site, nestled at 301 Southland Drive, had formerly been the home of the Cape Codder seafood carry-out restaurant. Architect Druce Henn played a pivotal role in transforming the original Cape Codder concrete block building into the New England-style establishment that characterized the early Long John Silver’s chain restaurants. Today, that very first location has been re-imagined into a stylish salon.

The earlier incarnations of these restaurants were renowned for their charming Cape Cod-style architecture, distinguished by blue roofs crowned with square cupolas, wooden benches and tables, lobster pots, and ship’s wheels as décor. Over time, they adopted even more nautical-themed embellishments, including seats resembling nautical flags.

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These pioneering eateries featured distinct elements such as separate entrance and exit doors, a corridor-like waiting area, deep fryers equipped with transparent food heaters that allowed patrons to witness their meals in the making, and door handles fashioned in the likeness of wrought iron swords. The buildings themselves sported walkways reminiscent of docks, complete with pilings and stout ropes.

While newer branches retained the fundamental structural design and theme, most of the original interior features were phased out. In 1989, its parent company, Jerrico, underwent a leveraged management buyout, subsequently divesting its other restaurant concepts to focus exclusively on Long John Silver’s.

Long John Silver's

Financial Worries

Facing financial difficulties due to heavy debt, Jerrico Inc. sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 1998. A&W, in September 1999, announced its intention to acquire Long John Silver’s out of bankruptcy, giving rise to Yorkshire Global Restaurants.

In 2000, Yorkshire Global Restaurants collaborated with Tricon Global, based in Louisville, Kentucky, the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell chains, to explore the concept of multi-branded restaurant locations.

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The parent company of Long John Silver’s and A&W, Yorkshire, was eventually acquired by Tricon Global, which was subsequently renamed Yum! Brands, Inc. in May 2002. By January 2011, Yum! Brands declared its intention to divest itself of the Long John Silver’s and A&W All-American Restaurants divisions due to declining sales and a strategic shift toward international expansion.

Long John Silver's

In September 2011, Yum! Brands announced the sale of Long John Silver’s to LJS Partners, a consortium comprising franchisees and other private investors.

Video: Long John Silver’s 1978 TV Commercial

Bad Press

In July 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a watchdog group focusing on nutrition and health policy, labeled Long John Silver’s “Big Catch” meal as the worst restaurant meal in America. This dish contained 33 grams of trans fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 1,320 calories, and nearly 3,700 milligrams of sodium. The company responded by eliminating trans fats from its menu, a change implemented by January 2014.

In March 2015, James O’Reilly, formerly associated with KFC (another Yum! Brands holding), assumed the role of CEO. He expressed his commitment to maintaining the chain’s 1,132 stores, reorienting its marketing strategies in light of negative press concerning menu fat and sodium content, and exploring the potential for future expansion.

Long John Silver's

Still in Business

On May 22, 2018, Long John Silver’s announced its acquisition of 76 franchised restaurants, primarily owned and renovated by ServUS, predominantly located in Indiana. On October 19, 2019, Warren W. Rosenthal, former president of Jerrico and the developer behind 1,350 Long John Silver’s restaurants, passed away at the age of 96.

On January 18, 2021, they unveiled Blain Shortreed as the new CEO.

Arthur Treacher’s – What Happened?

Who the heck was Arthur Treacher? Arthur Treacher was a British character actor who was widely known for his butler-type roles in the old Shirley Temple and Mary Poppins movies. When Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips was founded in 1969, the above mentioned actor was chosen as the spokesman. Some people speculate that he had…

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Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips
Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips
Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips

One response to “Long John Silver’s – Deep Fried History”

  1. […] actor was chosen as the spokesman. Some people speculate that he had a financial stake in the business but that has never been […]

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