Whatever Happened To The Rainforest Cafe?

For many years, the Rainforest Cafe was one of the coolest places you could go to eat, that is if you were a kid during the early 2000s. The restaurants were filled with greenery, fish tanks, and animatronic rainforest critters like Cha! Cha! the frog.

In addition to themed décor, the Rainforest Cafe played rainforest sounds on a loop, while storms, including flashes of light, broke up the barely contained chaos every so often. Was the food good? We don't remember. What kind of food did the cafe even serve? Not a clue. People mostly went to the Rainforest Cafe for the atmosphere anyway — probably because it was so overpriced, sorry, not sorry.

However, you might have noticed in recent years that these already scarce restaurants are even harder to find. Where did the Rainforest Cafe go and what caused a shift in the number of locations around the nation?

The Rainforest Cafe is still around... for now

In its original form, the Rainforest Cafe housed far more live animals than just the fish most of us remember. According to Atlas Obscura, the first cafe had tropical birds, tortoises, iguanas, and a baboon. Oh, and a butterfly greenhouse. Pretty wild, right? This was also all in addition to the tropical fish. 

Despite the cafe's popularity, it is no surprise that it was an extremely expensive production. This is due to the lighting, the fog machines, the animatronics, the animals, and the experts paid to take care of the animals, both live and mechanical. All this was on top of the usual restaurant costs.

Unfortunately, everything changed when Landry's Restaurants Inc. purchased the Rainforest Cafe in 2000. Most of the live animals, except for the fish, were removed from the cafes. Even though many of its locations have closed over the last decade, you can still find the Rainforest Cafe at some Disney locations (via Mental Floss).