Kenny Rogers Roasters
Number of locations
|Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, China, Indonesia, India, Brunei, Cambodia, Dubai, Thailand (Phuket)|
Kenny Rogers Roasters is a chain of chicken-based restaurants founded in 1991 by country musician Kenny Rogers and former KFC CEO John Y. Brown Jr., who is a former governor of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Brown had been an early investor in Kentucky Fried Chicken from 1964 to 1971. During his successful music career, Rogers had appeared in several commercials for the Dole Food Company before founding this restaurant chain.
The menu of Kenny Rogers Roasters originally featured wood-fired rotisserie chicken. After closing all of its U.S. operations and a series of ownership changes, Kenny Rogers Roasters operates principally in Asia as part of Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corporation Berhad. The Kenny Rogers Roasters brand is owned by Kenny Rogers Roasters International Corporation, a subsidiary of Roasters Asia Pacific (Cayman) Limited which itself is owned by Berjaya Corporation Berhad.
In 1991, country singer/songwriter Kenny Rogers ventured into the fast-food business and co-founded Kenny Rogers Roasters with former Kentucky governor John Y. Brown Jr. Kenny Rogers Roasters opened its first restaurant in Coral Springs, Florida in August 1991.
By 1995, the menu had expanded to include turkey, ribs, and various side dishes. The chain eventually grew to over 350 restaurants, including locations in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Kenny Rogers Roasters found itself in competition with Boston Chicken (later Boston Market) and several smaller roasted chicken chains. Kentucky Fried Chicken also introduced a roasted chicken line of products called Rotisserie Gold to compete with Roasters and Boston Chicken. In December 1992, Clucker's, a minor player in the roasted chicken market, sued Kenny Rogers Roasters, claiming the chain had copied its recipes and menus. The lawsuit continued until Kenny Rogers Roasters purchased a majority stake in Cluckers in August 1994. Brown expanded the company to a chain of more than 425 restaurants before selling his interest in the franchise to the Malaysia-based Berjaya Group in 1996.
In 1996 the chain announced plans to open in the United Kingdom and purchased locations in various cities. At this point, annual sales topped $300 million. However, the planned restaurants in Britain never materialised.
The company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 1998 and was bought by Nathan's Famous, Inc. for $1.25 million (US$2 million in more recent terms) on April 1, 1999; as a result of restructuring, many locations closed. By 2000, the chain was down to 90 franchised restaurants, 40 of those in the U.S.
Nathan's Famous divested itself of Kenny Rogers Roasters in 2008, selling it to their Asian franchisee, Roasters Asia Pacific (Cayman) Limited, a company which is owned by Berjaya Group of Malaysia. The last Kenny Rogers Roasters operating in North America was located in the Ontario Mills mall in Ontario, California which closed on December 31, 2011.
The 2008 purchase agreement allowed for Nathan's Famous and Miami Subs to continue selling Kenny Rogers Roasters items in their restaurants. Nathan's continues to serve Kenny Rogers Roasters items in select locations, such as its flagship location on Coney Island. Miami Subs (since sold off by Nathan's) no longer has a "Kenny Rogers" section on their menu.
Despite the chain's end in the United States, Kenny Rogers Roasters continues to flourish in Asia under the ownership of Berjaya Group. An article published by Time.com in 2011 reported that Kenny Rogers Roasters had grown to almost 140 restaurants across Asia, with continued expansion in Malaysia, the Philippines, and more recently southern China.
In Malaysia, the Kenny Rogers Roasters chain of restaurants is developed and operated by Berjaya Roasters (M) Sdn Bhd. Under a corporate exercise by Berjaya Corporation Berhad in 2011, Berjaya Roasters (M) Sdn Bhd became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berjaya Food Berhad.
In March 2011, Berjaya Food Berhad listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia. Effectively, Berjaya Food Berhad is responsible for establishing, operating, and expanding Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants in Malaysia. This includes developing the Kenny Rogers Roasters brand, managing menu items, and acting as a central procurement agent for Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants across Malaysia.
As a brand, Kenny Rogers Roasters advocates healthy eating as reflected in its brand tag line "less fat...less salt...less calories".
Number of restaurants and countries of operation
In its 2012 Annual Report, Berjaya Corporation Berhad reported that as of April 30, 2012, Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants numbered 74 in Malaysia and 8 in Indonesia. It was also mentioned that Roasters Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) Limited has operations in other countries including the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines.
In addition, Roasters Asia Pacific has been undergoing expansion in other international territories including India and the Middle East. Kenny Rogers Roasters opened its first outlet in Brunei in January 2013. The second Brunei outlet was opened at Tanjung Bunut in June 2015.
In popular culture
Kenny Rogers Roasters is the center of an episode of Seinfeld, "The Chicken Roaster". After a branch opens in the neighbourhood, Kramer cannot sleep due to its neon sign shining through his window, so he hung up a banner to drive it out of business. The branch shuts down at the end of the episode when Jerry unintentionally sabotages it with a soaked rat hat. The story was inspired by a real-life confrontation between a New York City branch of Kenny Rogers Roasters and a neighbouring law office.
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