Shoney has experienced its ups and downs in the past seven decades. Now, the brand is back, growing again, and showing no signs of slowing down.
Shoney’s has come a long, bumpy way since opening as a drive-in restaurant in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1947.
A couple of name changes—from Shoney’s to Big Boy and back again—and 70 years later, “America’s Favorite Dinner Table” has expanded into 17 states. Under the leadership of David Davoudpour, the reinvigorated casual chain shows no sign of slowing down.
At the turn of the century, though, the brand looked like it was pushed to the brink. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000, the chain eventually shrunk beneath 300 restaurants, a far cry from its heyday in the 1980s and 90s when the expansive chain owned or operated more than 1,300 locations in 34 states.
But since coming on board as chairman and CEO 11 years ago, Davoudpour, who was the founder and CEO of the largest Church’s Chicken franchisee company, has pushed expansion and an updated, more contemporary feel in Shoney’s locations to house the chain’s classic American fare. The restaurant’s reach now stretches as far west as Texas and as far north as Ohio, with the latest expansion landing in Henryetta, Oklahoma. Some features at new locations include a granite bar with stacked stone, a private dining area for larger parties, large TVs, and fresh squeezed orange juice. The 6,700-square-foot Henryetta store offers gourmet coffee and Espresso as well.
In June, Shoney’s debuted a new prototype in Nashville after an existing store on Donelson Pike underwent an extensive interior and exterior remodel. That new restaurant design will serve as the prototype for all newly constructed and remodeled Shoney’s locations nationwide, the company said. The exterior design showcases natural wood and stone siding, elongated black awnings, and a red backlit Shoney’s logo. Inside, guests are welcomed by wood flooring, community tables lit by modern light fixtures, and a full-service bar highlighted by red subway tile.