Fast food restaurants have surprisingly distinct architecture — which really shows through when another business moves into one of their old buildings.
You never quite realize that each fast food chain has its own distinct architectural style — a style you’ve completely internalized through accidental osmosis — until you see a business in a building that used to be a fast food restaurant and recognize it instantly.
I dug through the Internet (including one site dedicated specifically to transformed Pizza Huts) to find photos of businesses that obviously used to be fast food restaurants — and sometimes even modeled their businesses around the building they’d taken over.
Here are my favorite 11…
1 | Arby’s -> Brazilian restaurant
I guess if you’re lazy enough to name your Brazilian restaurant “Brazilian Restaurant,” you’re lazy enough to just string a sheet up over two-thirds of an Arby’s cowboy hat and call it a sign.
2 | Waffle House -> piano store
They get credit for turning the yellow waffle trim on the building into piano keys — but lose points for not having E-N-G-L-A-N-D P-I-A-N-O spelled out in yellow squares. They also lose points because they don’t serve delicious waffles.
3 | White Castle -> jewelry store
This jewelry store really embraced the White Castle architecture and build their brand (The Castle Jeweler) around it. I’m not sure how romantic it is to buy an engagement ring at a White Castle, but that’s really not the point.
4 | Taco Bell -> Alberto’s Mexican Food
I would’ve been so proud of Alberto’s if they’d gone with the slogan: “We serve Mexican food, unlike the previous tenants.” If I’d gone there and they’d been that bold, I would’ve called a friend’s pager on their pay phone to let him know about it.
5 | Pizza Hut -> sex toy shop
Somehow, this is even an unsexier location for a sex toy shop than a nondescript, shoebox-shaped brick building three blocks away from the airport.
6 | Burger King -> Chipotle
It’s the fast food industry’s greatest nightmare: Crappy restaurants being replaced by not-so-crappy* restaurants.
* = Except during the lunch rush when Chipotle’s assembly line jobs you on every ingredient and makes you swear you’ll never go there during the lunch rush again.
7 | McDonald’s -> coffee shop
It was really hard for me to find a McDonald’s for this list. Apparently, they don’t go out of business; they just keep on printing money. Fortunately, the good people of Seattle were some combo of anti-McDonald’s and pro-coffee enough to drive this McDonald’s out of business and get a local coffee shop up in its place. They were one of only, like, four cities in the country where that could happen.
8 | Pizza Hut -> Subway
I’m at the Pizza Hut. I’m at the Subway. I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Subway.
9 | KFC -> marijuana dispensary
This KFC-turned-dispensary was in my previous neighborhood here in L.A., and served as the inspiration for one of the best South Park episodes of the past few years. There’s a rumor (I don’t know if it’s true or not) that dispensaries can’t change the architecture of the buildings they move into — therefore we get “Kind For Cures” in the old KFC.
10 | KFC -> liquor store
The marijuana dispensary in an old KFC is kinda funny. For some reason, even though liquor is legal-er than marijuana, something about this KFC-turned-liquor store just looks so much more depressing and blight-y. Look at all the weird hyphenating it’s making me do. I’m flustered.
11 | Dairy Queen -> Hertz
I love Dairy Queen, especially the old school ones like this. So it’s apropos: Every time I see a Dairy Queen go out of business it hertz my heart.
(Pause for laughs… 3… 2… 1…)