|Founded||1952? in San Francisco, USA|
Lyon's was founded in San Francisco in about 1952. In 1966, it was bought by Consolidated Foods Corporation which later became Sara Lee; the company sold the chain in a management buyout (MBO) in 1989. At the time of the MBO, Lyon's had 65 restaurants across California, Oregon and Nevada and a turnover of $100m.
Not all of their restaurants were in Northern California -circa 1968 there was at least one in Southern California at La Habra Fashion Square (now Denny's) corner of Beach & Imperial Highway - The building is almost unchanged, from the exterior other than paint, it became a Denny's possibly in the 1980s. Another Lyon's was photographed in Eugene, Oregon, in 1985. This site became a Chinese buffet restaurant catering to faculty and students at the University of Oregon.
After bankruptcy in February 1998 Lyon's was acquired by ICH, an Arby's franchisee. In January 2001 ICH sold Lyon's to Amber's Pacific Restaurants Inc., a company of San Diego restaurant owner Amber Lao. APRI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2001, blaming the economic turndown at that time.
In 2002, Lyon's reorganized its 72 remaining restaurants. It sold 35 to franchisees, closed 32, and kept five in Northern California.
- Chaudhry, Rajan Sara Lee exits restaurant biz with sale of Lyon's, Nation's Restaurant News, 16 Jan, 1989.
- Anderson, Mark Lyon's moves HQ here, licks its wounds, Sacramento Business Journal, 30 August 2002.0
- Lyon's chain files Ch. 11 after rapid shrinkage Nation's Restaurant News, 29 Oct, 2001