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There's no Johnny's here–or anywhere


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Had TV’s talk show host Johnny Carson’s fictional soothsayer, Carnac the Magnificent, been charged with answering the question stored in the infamous hermetically sealed envelope about Here’s Johnny’s, it might have been: “Up in smoke.”

 

The question? What happened to Johnny Carson’s restaurant franchise?

In case you’re too young to remember Carson’s routine, his all-knowing sage would hold an envelope to his forehead as he predicted the answer to the question in the envelope. He’d then tear open the envelope with a flourish to reveal the question he’d just answered.

Unfortunately, the restaurant chain didn’t have the long-running success “The Tonight Show” did, nor apparently the late-night host’s quirky originality: the menu included hamburgers, honey-fried chicken and a “sizzling steak dinner.” The initial investment was $28,580.

While Carson had a 30-year run on TV, his many investments didn’t pan out so well. Carson was chairman of the board, according to this ad, while the president and executive vice president were both named Swanson, second-generation members of the family that pioneered frozen convenience foods.

—From the FisherZucker collection of franchise memorabilia. FisherZucker is a law firm based in Pennsylvania.

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