Fatz Cafe wasn’t just a regular restaurant

An oral history of the Southern chain

A sketch of the original Fatz Cafe at New Cut Road and Interstate 26 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, opened in November 1988/ Provided
A sketch of the original Fatz Cafe at New Cut Road and Interstate 26 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, opened in November 1988/ Provided
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Fatz Café closed the last of its 18 locations on August 23, 2023, days before its Texas-based ownership group declared bankruptcy.

Media outlets across the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia characterized the shutdown as a shock to customers and employees. But insiders who had been monitoring the chain since its sale to an investment firm in 2008, two decades after Jimmy Rogers opened the first Fatz Café in a converted Spartanburg peach shed, weren’t surprised. By the mid-2010s, the troubled company was sloughing off locations in a bid to compensate for plummeting sales.

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