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Why Do Checkers & Rallys Have Different Names?

Why Do Checkers & Rallys Have Different Names?

Checkers and Rally are a chain of drive-in restaurants that serve the dishes you would expect from a place with red neon signs: hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and delicious fries.

However, if you grew up with one of these American eateries in your area, you may not know it has a different name elsewhere.

Why Do Checkers & Rally's Have Different Names?

Checkers acquired Rally’s in 1999, and where Rally’s was predominant in the market, the Rally’s brand was retained.

Checkers & Rallys – Know About It

Checkers and rallies have the same menu items and serve the same food supplied by the same distributors. The Restaurant Support Center in Tampa provides support for both brands.

If you are craving a Big Buford Burger or Famous Seasoned Fries in a black and white cup, you have two convenient options:

Checkers Drive-In or Rally’s Hamburger. Although the two fast-food restaurants technically operate under different names depending on which city you are in, Checkers and Rally have identical menus.

According to the Checkers and Rally franchise group, the reason is that Checkers and Rally’s started as entirely different fast-food chains before merging into one franchise.

The company’s website explains that the change occurred in 1999 when Checkers acquired Rally. Although a merger would usually have meant that Rally would have been renamed Checkers, Rally’s was already a recognizable enough brand that it was decided to keep it as it was.

Since then, the food served at Checkers and Rally’s has been the same, right down to the Tampa distributor. Confusing as it may sound, all this means is that Checkers and Rally are different only in name.

At one time, the two restaurants were utterly separate entities under different ownership. They were founded around the same time–Rally in 1984, Checkers in 1986–and each quickly followed the procedures of any successful fast food chain.

Rallies began absorbing other drive-thru brands while Checkers expanded outside Mobile, Alabama.

Although the restaurants remained separate throughout the 1990s, they had a symbiotic relationship in the drive-in business. Rally leased some Checkers locations.

The companies entered into a management agreement in 1997, after Rally’s had been purchased by the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, another brand that knows how to operate under two names simultaneously.

The complete merger of the Checkers and Rally brands was announced in 1999 and completed in 2000.

Since then, customers can visit their local Rally or Checkers, but it is the same restaurant with the same menu. The only difference might be that some venues have been maintained with dining room seating, while the brand no longer builds platforms with seating.

Will Checkers & Rallies Ever Operate Under The Same Name?

It’s always more impressive than it should be when a brand avoids a potentially obvious move to rationalize.

So I admit to being surprised that the two brands have remained distinct for the past 20 years, especially since, with nearly 900 locations, that’s a lot of signage to consider.

I asked the company about its strategy for keeping two names for the same restaurant. “The company has no plans to change names,” Checkers & Rally’s explained to The Takeout. “They continue to see strong customer loyalty to each brand as they expand on the East and West Coasts.”

Strong customer loyalty: the white whale of the fast food industry. We cannot blame Checkers & Rallies for favouring it at all costs.

Sure, it might momentarily confuse some distracted diners (like when I moved to a new city and thought Checkers had something to do with serious copyright infringement).

Still, for those who have spent nearly 40 years building an affinity for one brand or the other, it’s a small consolation. And fast food outlets are in the business of selling us small comforts as they know how.

In 1999, only three years after its acquisition by CKE Restaurants, Rally’s was sold to Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Holding Company.

Shortly after that, Rally’s and Checkers inaugurated their partnership with a new product, the 99-cent Chicken Sandwich, available on both menus.

A series of successful advertising campaigns and 150 recent locations followed. By 2001, Rally was out of financial trouble, and the restaurant grew into the communal eatery we know today.

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