Kenny Rogers Roasters
The logo used since 2012
Number of locations
|Malaysia, Philippines, China, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Dubai, Thailand (Phuket)|
Kenny Rogers Roasters is a chain of chicken-based restaurants. It was 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. John Y. Brown Jr. had also been an investor in Kentucky Fried Chicken from 1964 to 1971. In addition to his successful music career, Kenny Rogers had also appeared in a number of commercials for the Dole Food Company before this restaurant chain was founded.
The menu of Kenny Rogers Roasters was originally centered on wood-fired rotisserie chicken. After closing all of its U.S. operations and a series of ownership changes, Kenny Rogers Roasters now operates principally in Asia and is now part of Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corporation Berhad. The Kenny Rogers Roasters brand comes under a worldwide franchise 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, the Middle East and Asia. The establishment became so well known an entire episode of Seinfeld ("The Chicken Roaster") was dedicated to Kramer's love of Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken which started after he and Jerry Seinfeld switched apartments due to a bright red neon light shining through Kramer's window so he could not sleep.
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 smaller player in the roasted chicken market, sued Kenny Rogers Roasters, claiming the chain had copied its recipes and menus. The lawsuit continued until 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 materialized.
The company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 1998 and was bought by Nathan's Famous, Inc. for U.S.$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 the chain in 2008, selling it to their Asian franchiser, 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; it 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 the establishment, operation and expansion of Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants in Malaysia. This includes the development of the Kenny Rogers Roasters brand, management of menu items and acting as 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 eight in Indonesia.
It was also mentioned that the countries in which Roasters Asia Pacific (Hong Kong). Limited have operations include the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Philippines and Bangladesh.
In addition, Roasters Asia Pacific had also been undergoing expansion in other international territories which include India and the Middle East. In 2013, Kenny Rogers Roasters opened its first outlet in Brunei on January 2013. The second outlet for Brunei was opened at Tanjung Bunut in June 2015.
In pop culture
As noted above, in 1996, an episode of the American television sitcom Seinfeld centered on the opening of a Kenny Rogers Roasters location. The character, Kramer, at first opposes the establishment due to a gigantic neon light of chicken display causing issues in his apartment before he later became obsessed with the chicken, with Newman quoting the tagline: "It's the wood that makes it good".
In the Beastie Boys song "Long Burn The Fire" from the album Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, Adrock raps "I'll make you sick like a Kenny Rogers Roaster."
In season 5 episode 9 of Archer, Kenny Loggins is playing the song Danger Zone at Lana Kane’s surprise baby shower. However, Lana has no idea who Kenny Loggins is and when told his name she asks if he is "from Kenny Loggins Roasters?".
In the series Fresh Off the Boat which takes place from the mid to late 1990's the chain is referenced several times. One multi-episode story arc includes a feud between Kenny Rogers and Michael Bolton in which Kenny Roger's Roasters chain ends up buying out one of Michael Bolton's steakhouse restaurants to "win" the feud. They are forced to incorporate more chicken into their steak menu. Later in the series in conversations with Kenny Rogers we find out the chain is going out of business and the restaurant in dispute returns to its original owner (Louis, the head of the family in the series who had previously partnered with Michael Bolton).
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- Section 2.13(c) of Kenny Rogers Roasters Purchase Agreement, TechAgreements. Retrieved on 2009-06-29
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- "Enjoy a healthy family-style feast at the new Kenny Rogers Roasters in Phuket". The Phuket News. December 24, 2016.