Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips, the almost forgotten fast seafood chain, is in the small stages of a revival, thanks to its national operator, Nathan’s Famous, and a pioneering early franchisee in Ohio. Two of the original stores in Ohio have operated in continuously, and without help from the company, since most of the chain closed, setting up a situation where there are two versions of the brand.
The Ohio restaurants are operated by Ben Vittoria, who has been involved with Arthur Treacher’s since the mid-1970s, according to a feature in the Cleveland Scene.
Arthur Treacher was a British actor, who came to a second act and television fame as announcer for the Merv Griffin Show, where he appeared form 1965-70 on CBS. When Griffin went into syndication, Treacher stayed on until the show moved to California, where Treacher is said to have remarked, “at my age, I don’t want to move, especially to someplace that shakes!” Interesting to note that Treacher was among a number of 20th century celeb entrepreneurs, including Griffin himself, Bing Crosby, and Fred Waring. The chain first opened in 1969.
Currently Nathan’s is offering Treacher’s as a product operators can add to their restaurants, and hopes to franchise more. “We are thrilled to provide operators across the country with the opportunity to add Arthur Treacher’s to their portfolio,” says James Walker, senior vice president, restaurants, in a press release. “Nathan’s Famous and Arthur Treacher’s have a longstanding relationship and we have worked diligently to keep the brand’s traditional menu items while also evolving the menu.”
The chain, which had hundreds of stores nationwide, was purchased by Mrs. Paul’s, and later sold. It then went Chapter 11, though the Ohio stores survived. This often happens when franchise chains collapse; individual franchisees continue to use the name, without any support. This is, for instance, the situation with Golden Skillet chicken, which had surviving franchisees long after the parent company, which had been purchased by Dairy Queen, shut the corporate office down.
Today Nathan’s promotes the national operation, and includes the chips in some of its stores. They are even available near Walt Disney World at a Nathan’s in Kissimmee, Fla.
Below, an ad which gives you a look at the brand as it was in its heyday.
The chain had a number of things that it tried, before they became commonplace at fast food. They included chicken sandwiches and super sized drinks. Below, a look at the promo for their 32 oz Coke.
And just for the heck of it, Arthur Treacher in 1939, dancing with Shirley Temple.