Victoria Station (restaurant)

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Victoria Station Acquisition Corporation
Victoria Station
Industry Restaurant
Predecessor Victoria Station, Inc. (1969–1987)
Successor independently owned franchised restaurants in U.S.; Daiei and later Zensho in Japan
Founded April 1969; 48 years ago (1969-04)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Founder Robert Freeman, Peter Lee, and Richard Bradley
Defunct 1992 (1992) (as chain in U.S.)
Headquarters Larkspur, California, U.S.
Area served
United States, Japan
Key people
Lowell Farkas, President, CEO and Director (1987–1992)
Products Prime rib, steak

Victoria Station was a chain of railroad-themed steakhouse restaurants. At the peak of its popularity in the 1970s, the chain had 100 locations in the United States. The firm filed for bankruptcy in 1986. The last remaining restaurant in the former chain was located in Salem, Massachusetts until it abruptly closed in December 2017.[1]


The concept evolved from a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate project, according to original owners Bob Freeman, Peter Lee, and Dick Bradley, all 1963 graduates of the school.[2] The first location was opened in San Francisco in December 1969[3] and was a 158-seat restaurant located on the Embarcadero at Broadway that was constructed out of five boxcars and two cabooses around a central lobby-service area.[4] Another source incorrectly claimed a April 1969 opening date.[5] The restaurant was grossing $90,000 monthly during its first year of operations.[4]

By the end of 1978, Victoria Station had 97 restaurants, all company owned.[5]

The chain was designed to attract members of the baby boom generation. The theme of the restaurant was loosely based on London's Victoria Station. Antique English railway artifacts were used as decor inside, and the exteriors were composed of American Railway cars, primarily boxcars, with a signature Caboose placed in front. On the "entry platform" to each restaurant was a London-style phone booth. Prime rib was the featured item on a limited menu that included steaks, barbecued beef ribs, and shrimp done in a variation of scampi style known as "Shrimp Victoria". Most of the restaurants used authentic railway cars for dining areas, often boxcars or cabooses.[6]

The Victoria Station chain flourished in the 1970s, according to a memoir by former Victoria Station corporate marketing manager Tom Blake. The company was among the first restaurant companies to offer its employees stock options and an ESOP program. The peak of success of the Victoria Station restaurant chain took place at the time of the culmination of a joint venture with Universal Studios, which resulted in the opening of Victoria Station Universal City, a location on the "hill" near where Citywalk now stands. At its peak, the Universal City location of Victoria Station was among the highest grossing restaurants in the United States.[6]

The U.S. operations of the Victoria Station chain began running into financial difficulties in the mid-1980s, causing gradual shutdowns of the franchise restaurants. [6][7] In May 1986, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. bankruptcy court.[8] Eight months later, it was reported in January 1987 that the company had a restructuring plan in place that would require it to sell a number of restaurants.[9]

A new company, called Victoria Station Acquisition Corporation and was controlled by Lowell Farkas, purchased the Victoria Station trademark and 11 of the restaurants for $6.5 million and the assumption of a $1 million tax liability.[5]


In 1979, Daiei and Wendy's International formed a joint company called Wenco Japan Inc. that operated Victoria Station franchise steak houses and Wendy's fast-food restaurants in Japan.[10] In 2002, Daiei sold Wenco Japan, which included the Victoria Station franchised restaurants, to Zensho for 4.60 billion yen.[11][12][13] The brand continues to be operated in Japan under the Zensho firm.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Luca, Dustin (December 6, 2017). "Victoria Station shut down". The Salem News. 
  2. ^ Cuff, Daniel F. (July 1, 1982). "Victoria Station Names A New Chief Executive". New York Times. 
  3. ^ Freeman, Bob (October 9, 2001). "Sausalito Working Waterfront Business". Bay Crossings Magazine. 
  4. ^ a b "Victoria Station, Inc". Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. Sage Journals. November 1, 1970. doi:10.1177/001088047001100305. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ a b c Tavlin, Edward M.; Moncarz, Elisa S.; Dumont, Deb (1989). "Financial Failure In the Hospitality Industry". Hospitality Review. Florida International University. 7 (1): 62–64, 73. 
  6. ^ a b c Blake, Tom (2006). Prime Rib and Boxcars: Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? (History of the chain). ISBN 0972796622. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Victoria Station is still working on its restructuring". Los Angeles Times. March 19, 1986. 
  8. ^ Groves, Martha (May 21, 1986). "Victoria Station Files for Chapter 11 Reorganization". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ "Victoria Station unveiled a reorganization plan". Los Angeles Times. January 30, 1987. 
  10. ^ Picken, Stuart D. B. (2016). Historical Dictionary of Japanese Business. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 106. ISBN 9781442255890 – via Google Books. 
  11. ^ "Daiei to sell 2 units to Zensho group". Japan Weekly Monitor. December 9, 2002 – via The Free Library. 
  12. ^ Belson, Ken (December 3, 2002). "Daiei To Sell Restaurants". New York Times. 
  13. ^ "Daiei seen selling restaurant chains". CNN. December 1, 2002. 

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