The Rainforest Cafe — a jungle-themed restaurant with animatronics — was magical for me as a kid.
The chain peaked in the 1990s then fell from popularity, but it’s been on my mind for months.
There are still 19 locations worldwide, and I went to one in Las Vegas recently. It was incredible.
For years, I went without thinking about the Rainforest Cafe — a chain restaurant characterized by its fake plants, animatronics, and indoor thunderstorms. I’d graduated to older, more refined palates, such as my local Chili’s, because adulthood meant trading jungle themes for combo meal deals and sports on television.
But at some point, I had a flashback: a green tree frog with large red eyes and a snaky smile that either said “Come inside” or “I’m going to spit some unidentified rainforest poison on you.” I remembered the ambient noises of the forest, fed to me through hidden speakers as I ran around the gift shop asking my parents to buy me a cuddly stuffed snake. I thought about the majesty of it all, with the fake sky above me cycling from day to night as I ordered macaroni and cheese, a drink in a souvenir cup, or a sparkling chocolate volcano. I wondered if as an adult, that childish joy would disappear.
The first Rainforest Cafe opened in Minnesota’s Mall of America in 1994, and early on, it was a hit. A September 2000 story from the Los Angeles Times said the chain’s stock traded as high as $25 per share in the mid-1990s, but its value plummeted alongside other themed restaurants around the turn of the century.
The LA Times wrote that Houston-based company Landry’s Seafood Restaurants offered to buy the Rainforest Cafe in February 2000 for $125 million — or $5.23 per …read more
Source:: Business Insider