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Industry Casual dining restaurant
Founded 1947 in Charleston, West Virginia, United States
Headquarters Nashville, Tennessee
Key people
Alex Schoenbaum, founder
David Davoudpour, CEO

Shoney’s is a privately held restaurant chain headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Operating primarily in the Southern United States, Shoney's also has restaurants in the Midwestern and Lower Mid-Atlantic states of the United States. Founder Alex Schoenbaum became a licensee of Big Boy Restaurants (originally known as Parkette) in 1952. Two years later the name was changed to Shoney's, and aggressive subfranchising followed. Thirty years later, having outgrown its Big Boy territory, Shoney's dropped the Big Boy affiliation.

The current corporate entity is Shoney's North America Corp., with David Davoudpour as chairman and chief executive officer. Davoudpour acquired Shoney's in 2006 through Royal Hospitality Corp. in Atlanta. He is the founder and chairman of Royal Hospitality. As of early 2011, there were approximately 230 company-owned and franchised Shoney's restaurants in 17 states, stretching from Maryland to Florida in the east, and from Missouri to Texas in the west, with the northernmost location being in Ohio.


In 1947 Alex "Shoney" Schoenbaum opened the Parkette Drive-In next to his father’s bowling alley in Charleston, West Virginia.[1] Schoenbaum became a Big Boy franchisee on February 7, 1952, now calling his several locations the Parkette Big Boy Shoppes.[2][3] In May 1954 a public "Name the Parkette Big Boy Contest" was announced, and in June 1954 Schoenbaum's five Parkette Drive-Ins were rebranded as Shoney's.

Shoney's (the Parkette) was originally the Big Boy franchisee for West Virginia; however, Schoenbaum rapidly grew the chain through subfranchising, expanding his Big Boy territory through the southeastern United States, excluding Florida only because the rights already belonged to fellow Big Boy franchisee Frisch's.

Schoenbaum's earliest subfranchisees operated under their own names. In 1955, Leonard Goldstein became a subfranchisee in Roanoke, Virginia. Originally operating as Shoney's, he eventually changed to Lendy's Big Boy after another Shoney's subfranchisee called Yoda's Big Boy opened across town. In 1956 a subfranchise was sold to the Boury brothers in northern West Virginia, who operated as Elby's. Elby's Big Boy units were originally listed with Shoney's units on the back of the Shoney's menu, and even into the late seventies, Elby's West Virginia operations were listed as Shoney's operations in Shoney's comic books. Also in 1956, Shoenbaum sold a subfranchise to Abe Becker in Rochester, New York for Becker's Big Boy. After this, all subfranchises went by the name Shoney's.

Doubling in size every four years, Shoney's became the largest Big Boy franchisee, operating over one third of the Big Boy restaurants nationwide. As Shoney's dominated Big Boy, a 1959 franchisee named Raymond Danner would dominate Shoney's, acquiring the company in 1971.

In 1969 Shoney's created a fast-food seafood concept called Mr. D's, named after Ray Danner, co-founder of Shoney’s, Inc.[4] The name was later changed to Captain D's and grew to more than 100 restaurants. Shoney's, Inc. went public in 1971 and was listed as "SHO" on the New York Stock Exchange. At various times, the corporate portfolio also included a lodging chain (Shoney's Inns), four casual dining concepts (Fifth Quarter, the Sailmaker, Barbwire's and Pargo's), and Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken.

In 1982 Shoney's began launching restaurants in Florida and Kentucky, branded as "Shoney's Towne and Country" because Frisch's owned the Big Boy rights in these states. Nonetheless, Frisch's sued for trademark infringement claiming a strong association of the "Shoney's" name with "Big Boy".[5] While these lawsuits failed, similar suits by Frisch's against Elby's complicated Elby's Big Boy advertising in the upper Ohio Valley. Therefore, in 1984 Shoney's broke affiliation with Big Boy. At the time it was the largest Big Boy franchisee, with 392 Shoney's Big Boy restaurants. As a result, the Big Boy sandwich was renamed the "All-American Hamburger" and Shoney Bear was created as a corporate mascot.

At its peak in 1998, the restaurant chain operated or franchised over 1,300 restaurants in 34 states. None of those businesses remain a part of the Shoney's restaurant enterprise today.

In 2000 the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was acquired by Texas-based investment group Lone Star Funds two years later.[6] On January 1, 2007, Lone Star announced that the Shoney's chain - at this point down to 282 restaurants - was being sold to David Davoudpour, founder and CEO of the Atlanta-based Royal Capital Corporation, the largest franchisee of Church's Chicken restaurants.[7] Davoudpour set up a new company, Shoney's North America, LLC, as a subsidiary of Royal, and currently serves as its chairman and CEO. Lone Star had originally planned to sell the chain to Centrum Properties, a Brentwood, Tennessee investment group, but Centrum later sued to get out of the deal.

As part of his revitalization efforts, Davoudpour has established an aggressive quality improvement process that includes a new menu, new restaurant prototypes and rebuilds, and a new Executive and Operations team focused on adding unique twists to the Southern comfort food menu for which Shoney's is known.

In January 2014, Shoney's opened its first mall location, in Sugarloaf Mills, Lawrenceville, Georgia. It includes a full bar.[8]

Shoney's Inn[edit]

In 1975, the restaurant chain founded Shoney's Inn, a motel chain. After the motels were sold off in 1991, Shoney's continued to collect royalties on the name. Between 2002 and 2006, the last remaining Shoney's Inns were re-branded as GuestHouse.[9]


  1. ^ "Shoneys Inc Facts, information, pictures | articles about Shoneys Inc". Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  2. ^ "Parkette Advertisements". Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston WV. February 6, 1952. pp. multiple. Retrieved June 8, 2013. You Can Get A Parkette Big Boy Tomorrow! 
  3. ^ "Parkette Advertisements". Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston WV. February 7, 1952. pp. multiple. Retrieved June 8, 2013. You Can Now Get A Big Boy At The Parkette. Don't Miss This Sensational Treat! 
  4. ^ Wohletz, Jenn (2013-08-27). "Captain D's is better than Long John Silver's -- but still stuck on the shore". Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  5. ^ "Frisch's loses appeal to stop Shoney's plans". Daily News. Bowling Green KY. April 28, 1985. pp. 10B. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; LONE STAR FUNDS BUYS SHONEY'S RESTAURANT CHAIN". The New York Times. 2002-01-25. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  7. ^ "Royal Hospitality Acquires Shoney's | Business Wire". Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  8. ^ "Sugarloaf Mills, GA - Shoney's". 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  9. ^ Freed, Jason (January 4, 2011). "Boomerang to relaunch Shoney's Inns". Hotel News Now. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 

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