7 old fast food chains from the 80s and 90s that kids know they have to come back to

Fast food chains from the 80s and 90s in Singapore

In recent years, joints like Shake Shack and Five Guys have been welcomed to Singapore with much fanfare. However, OG still feel a wave of nostalgia overwhelm them at the memory of Fast food chains from the 80s and 90s like Wendy’s and Taco Bell. I mean, how can you not miss our favorite square patties and crispy tacos?

With the revival of fast-food chains like A&W and Shakey’s Pizza in recent years, one can’t help but hope that these 7 old-school must-haves will reopen on our sunny island.

Check out these articles for more nostalgia:

1. Wendy’s – Our Favorite Square Beef Patties

Image credit: Foursquare

Being the most recent 80s channel to release, many 90s kids still fondly remember our red-haired friend like it was yesterday. Wendy’s The last outlet closed at NUS U-Town in 2015, forcing customers to say goodbye to their unique menu items, including their famous square beef patties, baked potatoes and shakes.

Fast Food Chains of the 80s and 90s - Wendy'sImage credit: Pies and Pies

However, this isn’t the first time fans have had to mourn the loss of the restaurant. It first came to Singapore in the 1980s and closed in the 1990s, before reopening in 2009 when Kopitiam group of companies chairman Lim Bee Huat brought it back to town.

No confirmed reason was given for its closure in 2015, although it is rumored that this was due to reasons such as understaffing, bad business and high rental prices.

2. Taco Bell – One of America’s Most Successful Chains

Fast Food Chains of the 80s and 90s - Taco BellImage credit: Taco Bell

Although Taco Bell hasn’t been on our shores for over 10 years, it’s a brand that is familiar to most due to its undeniable popularity overseas. He’s often quoted in movies and adored by American influencers, so why didn’t he survive long in Singapore?

Fast food chains of the 80s and 90s - Taco Bell foodTaco Bell’s famous Crunchy Tacos and quesadillas.
Image credit: @TacoBell

The Tex-Mex chain first appeared in 1999 and closed in 2008, and perhaps timing was the main reason for its failure. Many took to online threads to explain that Singaporeans then found Taco Bell too expensive compared to its fast-food counterparts, in addition to not being suitable for local taste buds.

However, 90s kids who loved Taco Bell and those who became fans after trying it overseas share the sentiment that the restaurant should give our sunny island another chance. We think it would be a hit today, especially given the growing popularity of Mexican cuisine.

3. Best Fries Forever – Cineleisure Movie Snacks for 90s Kids

Fast food chains from the 80s and 90s - Best Fries ForeverImage credit: Best Fries Forever

While the famous chip shop only opened in 2010, many 90s kids dubbed it the go-to snack spot at the movies. With a location outside of Cineleisure, Best Fries Forever (BFF)Fresh cut fries of the day and wide range of sauce toppings were truly the perfect flick BFFs.

Fast food chains from the 80s and 90s - Best Fries Forever foodImage credit: Foursquare

The popular snack bar closed in 2015 due to high rental costs. Although there are many new stalls selling unique products fries in singaporeBFF’s crispy, flavorful fries are something ’90s kids will fondly remember.

4. Chuck E. Cheese – Fast food heaven for cheese lovers

Fast Food Chains of the 80s and 90s - Chuck E. Cheese's
Image credit:
Remember Singapore

Alone OGs would remember playing Chuck E. Cheese, the cheese lover’s dream restaurant that opened in the 1980s in Parkway Parade. The restaurant was known for its cheese menu and offered dishes like pizza and pasta. Another of its highlights was the “Fantasy Playland”, a playroom for the little ones.

Unfortunately, it seems nearly impossible for the channel to make a comeback anytime soon since Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy in June 2020.

5. Milano’s Singapore – For unique Italian pizza

Fast food chains of the 80s and 90s - Milano's Pizza
Image credit:
National Heritage Board

We’re going further down memory lane now, and maybe only 80s kids will remember this The Singapore of Milansince the pizzeria opened its doors in 1984 and closed in the mid-90s.

Customers who prefer Italian-style pizzas — to the American-style ones commonly served in Singapore — would miss Milano’s. It closed after losing out to the growing popularity of Pizza Hut at the time, and some of its outlets ended up being taken over by Dominos – the two brands we still know today.

6. Hardee’s – Carl’s Junior OG sister channel

Fast Food Chains of the 80s and 90s - Hardee's
Image credit:
Hardee’s website

Some may consider that this chain still exists in Singapore, because Hardee’s is known as the sister the society at Carl’s Junior today, having been acquired by the latter’s parent company, CKE Restaurants, in 1997. That explains the familiar happy star logo that both franchises sport.

However, the Hardee’s chain only existed in Singapore for 4 short years before the big merger, from 1984 to 1988. During its short time here, they were known for their charcoal grilled burgers, biscuits and the availability of chicken and fish options.

Fast food chains of the 80s and 90s - Hardee's foodHardee’s current menu items include burgers, chicken tenders and natural cut fries.
Image credit: @hardees

Although their menu has since evolved, Hardee fans can still find the chain overseas in regions like America and the Middle East.

7. Big Rooster – Now renamed Red Rooster

Fast Food Chains of the 80s and 90s - Big RoosterImage credit: National Archives of Singapore

’80s fried chicken fans might remember big rooster, a fast food chain that arrived in Singapore in 1984 and disappeared soon after. The channel isn’t talked about much online, but it’s since been rebranded as “Red Rooster”, a name you may have come across if you’ve been on vacation in Australia.

Fast Food Chains of the 80s and 90s - Red RoosterImage adapted from: Sydney Airport

Unlike many chicken fast food chains, Red Rooster specializes in making rotisserie chicken. In fact, they only added fried chicken to their menu last year. They also offer some less common sides, including sweet potato fries, roast potatoes, and corn wheels, making this a must-try if you’re already in the Land below.

Former fast food chains that left Singapore

Following the wave of excitement and disappointment that followed Wendy’s job announcement on LinkedIn last year – leading many to believe the chain was about to reopen – it’s safe to say Singaporeans are ready to welcoming back our old fast food favourites.

Hoping that some of these restaurants will return can be a long shot, especially in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. However, the successes of franchises since closed and reopened, including chains like Dominos and A&W, prove that all hope is not lost.

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Cover image adapted from: Pies and Pies, Best Fries ForeverTacobell, National Archives of Singapore

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