The Untold Truth Of Fuddruckers

It all started in 1980, when Philip Romano took a big bite out of the burger business with the opening of Freddie Fuddruckers in Texas. The goofily-named restaurant was bound to make its way into locals' hearts from the start, but nonetheless, Romano had a plan to get there: by selling the "World's Greatest Hamburgers."

There's little doubt that Fuddruckers delivers a tasty, juicy burger that rivals the likes of fast food giants. Instead, most customers enter the doors with another question on their mind: Where in the world did the name Fuddruckers come from, anyways?

Believe it or not, the name wasn't meant to be an almost-obscenity. Romano actually chose the original name, Freddie Fuddruckers, based off of "Fudpucker Airlines," a made-up company that at one point or another became the source of a running joke in the plane-enthusiast community (via Quora). (Yeah — definitely not what we were thinking, either.)

Nowadays, Fuddruckers has dropped the Freddie, but gained a following of dedicated restaurant-goers all around the country. Dozens of location (per the company website) – both company-owned and franchised — remain open, and continue to bridge the gap between a fancy, sit-down restaurant experience and a lackluster McDonald's drive-thru burger.

Fuddruckers has always been synonymous with fresh

Fuddruckers has always prided itself in offering top tier burgers in a fast-casual, affordable manner. Romano once told the New York Times that he "thought the world needed a better hamburger." To Romano, that meant the Fuddruckers franchise had to do more than just offer quality, fresh ground meat — they had to make sure every last bit of each burger was fresh. That's why every Fuddruckers location sports a buffet-style "market fresh produce bar," where you can jazz up your burger with anything from garden-grown shredded lettuce to made-in-house cheese sauce.

Some things at Fuddruckers just haven't changed over the years — the meat is still perfectly cooked to your preference, the buns are still baked fresh on site, and the topping bar remains fully stocked with everything you could ever dream of putting on your quarter pounder. The only difference? Most locations have closed up the original windows into the butcher areas by now, which used to display carcasses to showcase just how fresh their ground beef was (via Burger Beast).

One Fuddruckers restaurant truly took the "better burger" mission to heart back in 2006. Slash Food reports that the Foxwoods Resort & Casino location took home the Guinness World Record for "world's largest commercially available burger," with the entry clocking in at nearly 30 pounds of fresh, quality beef.

The future of Fuddruckers is unclear

With a history over 40 years long, business is bound to be a roller coaster. But Fuddruckers has seen a steep decline in recent years, and this time around, it may not be able to escape the restaurant industry's declining fortunes.

Less than a decade after the doors opened at the San Antonio flagship location, Romano felt it was time to move on and start fresh with a new concept entirely. In 1988, the former Fuddruckers owner opened up Romano's Macaroni Grill and left the burger business in his past (via Texas Hill Country). Fast forward a few years and a handful of owners, and Fuddruckers was struggling to keep up with the restaurant industry. The 2010 parent company Magic Brands LLC ultimately shut down two dozen locations and forced Fuddruckers to scramble after filing for bankruptcy, reports Reuters.

The chain was fortunately purchased by Luby's, a casual cafeteria chain also based in Texas, but it seems like Fuddruckers' luck may have run out. In 2020, Luby's announced plans for full liquidation of its assets, including the one-stop shop for the "World's Greatest Hamburger" (via Today). The outlet notes that Luby's could give franchisees the option to hold onto their still-standing locations. Nonetheless, we have some bad news for fans of Fuddruckers: Don't be surprised if this burger joint follows in the footsteps of far too many other restaurants (especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic) and has to shutter its doors.