Hot 'n Now

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Hot 'n Now
Industry Fast food
Founded 1984 in Kalamazoo, Michigan
Founder William Van Domelen
Headquarters Holt, Michigan
Number of locations
Area served
Hot n Now structure in Sturgis, MI

Hot 'n Now is an American fast-food restaurant chain based in Holt, Michigan. Founded in 1984, the chain once grew to more than 150 locations throughout the United States at its peak. Subsequently under the ownership of PepsiCo, the chain filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and was then sold to STEN Corporation. As of September 9, 2016, only the Sturgis, Michigan, location remains in operation.


Hot 'n Now was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1984 by William Van Domelen.[1] Van Domelen had opened the first Michigan Wendy’s restaurants and a franchisee of Burger Chefs in Southwest Michigan.[2]

The company began franchising activities in 1987.[citation needed] By 1990, the chain operated more than 100 stores in 15 different states.[1] That same year, it was acquired by PepsiCo, which placed operations under its Taco Bell unit. Van Domelen resigned from the company soon after the sale.[3]

The company began making changes to the chain's concept that frustrated the franchisees starting in 1992 with the menu. Hot 'n Now President Don Pierce left the company in 1993. Support to franchisees declined soon there after. Hot 'n How was treated as a test brand. In the first quarter 1995, the company closing 80 corporate owned stores with the expectation to sell all the corporate owned locations to franchisees or licensees.[3]

Richard Loehr, an automobile dealership owner, purchased a franchise for Broward County, Florida, in January 1990. By the end of 1995, Loehr had five locations, but he wanted out. Hot 'n Now would not buy his locations after initially showing interest and blocked any sale to other parties.[1] Profits dropped after 1993 for Loehr's locations. Loehr laid off all 300 employees and closed his six locations by March 1995. On March 16, 1995, Loehr filed a lawsuit against Taco Bell.[3] The case went to trial in December 1998.[1]

Taco Bell sold Hot 'n Now to a Connecticut company in 1996.[1] By 2002, the company was based in Holt, Michigan, with 53 locations. The company closed a handful of locations. The company started a El Toro-branded Mexican menu to be co-located with Hot 'N How; two such locations opened in January 2002.[4]

In October 2003, Proquest Capital Corporation acquired Hot 'n Now assets and some liabilities from Hot 'n Now, LLC. Proquest was soon renamed to Hot Brands, Inc. At the time of acquisition, the chain had 44 locations, 23 corporate and 21 franchisee owned, in three states: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana.[5]

In 2004, the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and was then sold to STEN Corporation, which also owns the Burger Time chain.[6] Burger Time was sold to BTND, LLC,[7] which owns the Hot 'N Now name.[8]

One of last two locations in Michigan suffered a fire on September 5, 2016. The location was already planning a switchover in three weeks to Burger 81.[6] Only the Sturgis, Michigan, locations remains.[2]

Menu and design[edit]

The menu of Hot n' Now as of April 26, 2014.
Hot n' Now Drive Thru menu

The majority of the chain's locations focused entirely on drive-thru service, featuring a small footprint building with a tall, slanted roof style. Some previous locations were more traditional fast-food locations, complete with seating, and others were combined with gas stations. [9]

The chain briefly used the characters from Mad magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" in its advertising. The current menu focuses on low-cost hamburgers, as well as sides such as french fries and milkshakes.

In 2003, the menu consisted of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, double hamburgers and cheeseburgers, olive burgers, French fries, and soft drinks, with new owner Hot Brands adding mushroom burgers.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Richardson, James M. (1998-12-07). "No Quiero Taco Bell: Did new parent drive its Hot 'n Now drive-through burger chain into the ground with bad ideas, or did franchise fail to keep up?". Miami Daily Business Review. Archived from the original on January 31, 2009. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  2. ^ a b Meier, Eric (September 8, 2016). "There Is Now Just One Hot n Now Restaurant Left After Bay City Location Burned and Closed Labor Day Weekend". WRKR. Townsquare Media Group. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Johnson, Greg (April 26, 1995). "Taco Bell Cools on Hot 'n Now Burger Chain". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 8, 2016. 
  4. ^ Wade, Cheryl (January 10, 2002). "Hot'N Now closes Saginaw Road store". Midland Daily News. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Proquest Acquires Hot 'N Now Business to Enter the Fast-Food Restaurant Industry" (Press release). Holt, Michigan: Hot Brands Inc. PrimeZone. October 7, 2003. Retrieved September 9, 2016 – via GlobeNewswire. 
  6. ^ a b Hamilton, Jacob (September 8, 2016). "After fire, one of Michigan's last Hot n' Now restaurants to rebrand". Bay City Times. Mlive Media Group. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Converted by EDGARwiz". 14 May 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "HOT 'N NOW Trademark Information". Trademarkia. LegalForce. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  9. ^ Hot Brands, Inc. Announces New Modern Store Design and Employee Image