I know that Bennigan's is (was) supposed to be Irish themed, but in my few visits over the years I never saw much difference between them and TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, or other chains of that ilk. Mind you, my visits to any and all of them have been only occasional. Plus we never go to any of the fast food places, except for coffee on the road or to use the bathrooms. Absolutely hate fast food.
I know that many of you despise the New York Times for its liberal editorial position, but its article on this subject is excellent, with lots of good perspectives.
Bottom line, it points out that the "casual dining sector"--the restaurants one step above fast food like Bennigans--are really on the skids overall and that more are likely to close. Steak and Ale is also dowm the drain--same owners as Bennigan's. More to follow.
Other retail sectors are also getting killed. Mervyn's deparment stores on the west coast filed for chapter 11, as did Steve & Barry's. "Mall brands," such as Sharper Image and Linens'n'Things and Ann Taylor are also getting pummeled.
Added problem: banks are now much less willing to lend to restaurants and franchises as a whole.
Very tough times, and while the business cycle is the business cycle, we can certainly place a lot of this at the feet of irresponsible deregulation.