Arthur Treacher's

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Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips
Subsidiary of TruFoods Systems, Inc
Founded1969; 51 years ago (1969) in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
HeadquartersNew York, U.S.
Area served
New Jersey
New York State
ProductsSeafood Edit this on Wikidata

Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips is a fast food seafood restaurant chain. At the peak of its popularity in the late 1970s, it had about 800 stores.[1][2] As of November 2019, there are believed to be only seven stand-alone locations remaining: three in Ohio, two in New York, and two in New Jersey (one of which is located inside the Molly Pitcher Service Area of the New Jersey Turnpike[3]).[4] Some Nathan's Famous locations also offer select Arthur Treacher's menu items. The menu offers fried seafood or chicken, accompanied by chips.[5] Its main competitors were Long John Silver's and Captain D's.[6]


A since-closed Arthur Treacher's co-branded with a Nathan's Famous in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The chain is the namesake of Arthur Treacher (1894–1975), an English character actor typecast as "the perfect butler" for his performances as Jeeves, as a butler in several Shirley Temple films, and the role of Constable Jones in Walt Disney Productions' Mary Poppins.[7] At the time the chain was founded, Treacher was best known as the announcer and sidekick on the popular The Merv Griffin Show.[8] Whether Treacher actually had a financial involvement in the restaurants is unknown (in interviews he refused to say), but he "served as a spokesman for the restaurant chain in its early years, underscoring the British character of its food."[9] In a 1975 interview, New England franchise vice president M. John Elliott claimed the fish recipe to be the actor's own, brought over from the United Kingdom.[10]


The franchise company was started in 1969 as National Fast Food Corp. National Fast Food's principals at the time included S. Robert Davis, Dave Thomas and L. S. Hartzog. S. Robert Davis was a real estate developer who built and leased several Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken properties. S. Robert Davis's friend Dave Thomas, who went on to found Wendy's, sold his Colonel Sanders franchises back to that company for $3 million. L.S. Hartzog ran a chain of bakeries selling biscuits to Colonel Sanders franchisees nationally.

Fisher Foods involvement[edit]

In 1970, Fisher Foods swapped capital with and licensed franchises from National, with a total of 550 franchises sold (106 to Fisher alone), but only 99 stores were actually in operation. Long John Silver's, Captain D's, Skipper's and Alfie's Fish & Chips likewise employed the fish franchise concept about the same time. Aided by Arthur Treacher's advertisements, these companies introduced British fish and chips to northeastern America, albeit four years after Salt's Fish & Chips (later renamed H. Salt, Esq. Authentic English Fish and Chips) introduced British fish and chips to America in California.[citation needed]

Aggressive expansion under Orange Co.[edit]

By the early 1970s, National Fast Food had become Orange Co. Under this name, Davis conducted an aggressive expansion campaign from 1972 through 1976. Lacking equity, he relied on generous sale-leaseback agreements. Under the terms of these agreements, Orange Co. would sell to investors sites for new restaurants and then sign long leases unconditionally guaranteeing to continue lease payments if the restaurants failed.[11]

Acquisition by Mrs. Paul's Seafood[edit]

On November 21, 1979, Orange Co. sold Arthur Treacher's to Mrs. Paul's. However, under the terms of its original sale-leaseback agreements, Orange Co. remained liable for millions of dollars of payments to investors.[12]

The "Cod Wars" between the United Kingdom and Iceland during the 1970s had caused cod prices to double,[13] and Mrs. Paul's responded by promptly replacing the Icelandic cod in Arthur Treacher's recipe with less expensive pollock that was oilier and of inferior quality.[14] The move exacerbated tensions with franchisees – some of whom had already withheld a total of $5 million in royalties for what they perceived to be a steadily declining level of service. Litigation arising from the conflict eventually reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.[15]

Investor group[edit]

After losing the case to the franchisees and having no way to compensate them, Mrs. Paul's sold Arthur Treacher's to Lumara Foods of America Inc. in March 1982. Lumara Foods filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code four months later.[16]

The company was subsequently bought by a group of investors and the corporate offices were relocated to Youngstown, Ohio. It went into bankruptcy in 1983. Two years later, it was merged into a shell company by Jim Cataland.

From 1985 to 1993, Cataland slowly expanded the company again. In 1993, money from a new group of investors was used to introduce a more modern seafood concept; to buy additional stores; and to move the company from its base operations in Youngstown, Ohio, to Jacksonville, Florida.

In the mid-1980s, franchises in Detroit, Michigan were converted by their owner to a new chain called Seafood Bay. Arthur Treacher's purchased six Seafood Bay locations back in 1997, but was unsuccessful in reverting them.[17]

The company experimented with co-branding, forming an alliance with Arby's (which got its start in the Youngstown suburb of Boardman) for co-branded locations. One such location existed in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. However, by the late 1990s, Arby's parent Triarc removed the Arthur Treacher's portions of its co-branded Arby's. Today, Arthur Treacher's primary co-branding partner is Nathan's Famous.

TruFoods Systems[edit]

The company holding the Arthur Treacher's trademark was acquired by PAT Franchise Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of TruFoods Systems, Inc., in 2002. Nathan's Famous bought the exclusive rights to market the Arthur Treacher's trademark and sell their products co-branded with Nathan's Own concepts Kenny Rogers Roasters and Miami Subs in 2006; however, PAT Franchise Systems has a license agreement with NF Treachers to sell Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips franchises in eight states.

As of 2018, in addition to Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips, TruFoods Systems operated the following franchises:[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Restaurants Analysis: Bruce R. Galloway - Arthur Treacher's Inc". Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Arthur Treacher's hopes to set sail on new course - Columbus Business First". Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Service Areas & Commuter Lots". New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Arthur Treacher's". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Arthur Treacher's menu". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Arthur Treacher's hopes to set sail on new course - Columbus Business First". Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Arthur Treacher - IMDb". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Merv Griffin - Telegraph". Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  9. ^ Arthur Treacher's Restaurant Chain Food Chips Fish Butler Archived January 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Bridgeport Post". Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Orange-co Can Finally Concentrate". Lakeland Ledger. 18 December 1983. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Orange-co Can Finally Concentrate". Lakeland Ledger. 18 December 1983. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  13. ^ Retrieved 6 November 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "Restaurants Analysis: Bruce R. Galloway - Arthur Treacher's Inc". Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  15. ^ "689 F. 2d 1137 - Arthur Treacher's Franchisee Litigation v. A & B Management Corporation". Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Orange-co Can Finally Concentrate". Lakeland Ledger. 18 December 1983. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Arthur Treacher's buys six shuttered Seafood Bay units.(Brief Article)". Nation's Restaurant News. 17 February 1997. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  18. ^ "TRUFOODS, LLC". 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-07.

External links[edit]