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A Struggling Regional Burger Chain Could Disappear For Good This Year

The chain's remaining locations are expected to be converted into another concept.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

From fast-food giants like McDonald's to smaller names like the Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon, many of America's popular chain eateries have major growth plans in the pipeline for 2024 and beyond. But as those chains work to grow bigger than ever, one regional burger brand could disappear entirely.

This regional brand is Bagger Dave's, a Michigan-based full-service chain that serves burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and other tavern-style fare. BT Brands, which currently owns nearly 40% of Bagger Dave's, announced in a Jan. 26 press release that it is now exploring "strategic alternatives" for the chain.

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Bagger Dave's restaurants will continue operating normally for now, but BT Brands expects to begin converting the locations to another concept later this year, the release said. So if all goes according to plan, the conversions would mark the end of the road for Bagger Dave's.

Bagger Dave's
Patches O. / Yelp

Per Restaurant Business Magazine, Bagger Dave's was once an up-and-coming chain expanding quickly in the Midwest. The very first Bagger Dave's opened in Berkley, Mich., in 2008 and the brand grew to more than 25 locations across three states.

However, the chain ultimately began to struggle with declines in sales and customer traffic and ended up shuttering numerous locations, Restaurant Business Magazine reported. There are currently only six remaining Bagger Dave's restaurants in the United States, with four located in Michigan, one in Fort Wayne, Ind., and one in Centerville, Ohio, according to the press release.

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"All six stores are in excellent locations representing an original investment of more than $5 million. The stores range from 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, carry full liquor licenses, and are in excellent physical condition," BT Brands CEO Gary Copperud said in a statement. "We have had several restaurant professionals look at the locations over the last year, and all agree the units provide an outstanding footprint for a conversion opportunity."

"We look forward to identifying a dynamic growth opportunity, providing potential career growth for all current employees of Bagger Dave's," he continued. "We see the opportunity for Bagger Dave's shareholders, including BT Brands, to earn significant returns from a successful conversion."

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Bagger Dave's isn't the only burger chain that has contended with hard times in recent years. Back Yard Burgers, a Nashville-based fast-casual burger brand, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2023 amid declining sales and store closures. This past November, Burger King also revealed that it had closed nearly 200 older and underperforming locations in one year to improve the health of its overall system.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe