Sunday, September 29, 2013

And Then There Was One: Koo Koo Roo Closes West Hollywood Store

Koo Koo Roo

Remember when Koo Koo Roo restaurants could be found all over Los Angeles? The chain's chicken offerings and fresh sides seemed perfectly suited for California palates. But Koo Koo Roo, dogged by some big menu missteps and bad management choices, collapsed. And now the once-growing chain is closing one of its two last locations, as the West Hollywood outpost of Koo Koo Roo closes tonight. That leaves just one final location, in Santa Monica. Koo Koo Roo closed 10 locations in 2010, leaving just three: Santa Monica, Larchmont and West Hollywood. The Larchmont location closed last year. Here's the L.A. Times in 2010, explaining the chain's demise:< br>
Koo Koo Roo suffered from competition from other restaurant chains, confusion over frequent changes to its menu and the high cost of real estate leases in Southern California. The company sought to offer high-quality food, which made the restaurants expensive to run, Chambers said.

Last week, Magic Brands said that it would be sold to private equity firm Tavistock Group in Windermere, Fla., when it emerges from bankruptcy. The firm plans to close 21 Fuddruckers locations as part of the reorganization. The Koo Koo Roo stores to be closed are all in Southern California.

The storied local chain, founded in 1988 by entrepreneur Mike Badalian, appeared poised for national success in the 1990s with stores throughout Southern California and more planned up and down the East and West coasts.

The firm went public with hopes of expansion. A later purchase of struggling Hamburger Hamlet put still more strain on the company.
Koo Koo Roo lost it in my eyes when its previous owner tried to add Fuddrucker's burgers to the menu, confusing the whole chicken concept. Koo Koo Roo outlets started smelling like fried burgers, which was strange and unappealing to folks looking to get chicken bowls. I gave Koo Koo Roo plenty of business over the years at its Miracle Mile location (which is now The Counter).

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