Nine Northwest Indiana Long John Silver's restaurants are under new ownership and changes are coming.
The Louisville-based chain of pirate-themed seafood restaurants bought 76 fast-food restaurants from ServUS, a franchisee that opened the third Long John Silver’s restaurant in 1969, for an undisclosed sum. Most of the locations were in western Kentucky, southwestern Michigan and Indiana, and included the Long John Silver's restaurants in Crown Point, Gary, Hammond, LaPorte, Lake Station, Merrillville, Michigan City, Munster and Valparaiso.
"This brand holds a special place in my heart and we’re very proud of the work we’ve put into these restaurants for the last 49 years," ServUS franchisee Bob Ruckriegel said. "I know these restaurants and the team running them are in great hands."
Long John Silver's had been owned by Yum Brands, the Louisville-based fast-food giant that operates Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, until 2011 when it was acquired by a group of franchisees. In 2015, the new ownership started acquiring franchises and now runs 20 percent of the restaurants in its system, which was previously 100 percent franchised.
The chain plans to replace the "nostalgic Cape Cod building elements" at the newly acquired restaurants with the "clean, nautical-themed lines of a new design." It will also add a new grilling platform to modernize restaurants once known mainly for fried seafood sprinkled with crunchy fried batter flakes.
"This is an excellent opportunity to continue our brand revitalization," Long John Silver's President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Unger said. "We’re thrilled to add an extensive line-up of well-performing restaurants to our company-owned portfolio and to continue the legacy that Bob has left behind."
Long John Silver's now owns 200 of its restaurants nationwide.