Restaurateur Elon Musk aims to go where few business giants have succeeded

History shows deep pockets and past triumphs are no guarantee of conquering the peculiar world of foodservice. Here’s a look at past trainwrecks.

As the richest man in the world, Elon Musk has a pretty good record on startups, from PayPal to Tesla to Space X. But now he’s bringing that Midas touch to a field where past successes and staggering financial resources are no guarantee of another triumph, as this week’s Restaurant Rewind podcast attests.

Host and Restaurant Business Editor At Large Peter Romeo looks at past instances of corporate giants giving the industry a try. For every slam-dunk by the likes of Pepsico or General Mills, the past parents of Taco Bell and Red Lobster, respectively, there seems to be a bizarre pairing of restaurant chain and mega-parent.

Jack in the Box, for instance, was once part of a giant pet food company. Hardee’s corporate siblings once included several Canadian brands of cigarettes. Executives of Pillsbury’s onetime restaurant holdings would joke about their bosses sporting a dusting of flour.

What’s that portend for Musk and his proposed drive-in concept? Give a listen to this and every week’s installment of Restaurant Rewind, the podcast that looks into the industry’s past for a better understanding of what’s happening in the business today.

You’ll find it wherever you get your podcasts.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content

Emerging Brands

The race is on for a piece of the pickleball pie

New concepts seem to pop up daily. Here's a look at how the pickleball eatertainment landscape is taking shape.


Will Subway make Roark Capital too dominant? Not really

The Bottom Line: The addition of the sandwich giant will make Roark a bigger player than McDonald's in the U.S. But its position in the sandwich market will not be all that unusual.


Restaurants still look expensive, and consumers are reacting

The Bottom Line: Restaurants have stepped off the pricing gas. But sales are slowing and traffic is weak, and more operators are turning to price promotions.


More from our partners