Marie Callender's

Marie Callender's is an American restaurant chain.[1] Its headquarters are in the Marie Callender's Corporate Support Center in Mission Viejo, Orange County, California.[2] As of January 2023, the company operates 25 locations in California, Nevada, and Utah.

Marie Callender’s, Inc.
GenreCasual Dining
Founded1948 (1948)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
FounderCallender family
(Cal Warren, Don and Marie)
HeadquartersMission Viejo, California, U.S.
OwnerElite Restaurant Group
ParentMarie Callender's Inc.


First foundation

In the 1930s, Marie Callender and her husband Cal Warren Callender began selling pies in the city of Long Beach and in Orange County.[3] In 1948, they sold their family car and used the money to set up a wholesale bakery with their son Don. The first official location was opened in 1964.[4]

Eventually, Don opened a retail outlet in Orange, California, naming it after his mother, gradually adding other food.[4] Within five years the chain was expanded to 12 more locations and opened its first locations outside of California (Las Vegas and Houston) in 1969. It grew into 84 locations by the end of the 1970s. However, the Houston location closed down in 1981. In 1997, the company announced that they planned to open three new restaurants in the Houston area once again. Not just Houston but more locations in other cities as well. At the end, all three remaining locations in Houston closed down in 2001 due to restaurants being unprofitable.[5]

Late 20th century sales

In 1986, the restaurant chain was sold to Ramada Inn,[6] then in 1990, to Wilshire Restaurant Group, Inc.[5] Marie Callender Pie Shops, Inc. was purchased from Saunders Karp & Megrue (SKM)[7] in 1999 by an affiliate of Castle Harlan, a New York-based private equity firm.

The company owned the East Side Mario's restaurant chain from 1997 (when it bought the chain from PepsiCo) to 2000.[8]


In 2006, Castle Harlan merged Marie Callender's with another of its interests, Perkins Restaurant and Bakery. The combined chain, known as Perkins & Marie Callender's Inc. (PMCI), was headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.

The business flourished until Don Callender died on January 7, 2009, due to complications resulting from head trauma sustained during a fall at home.[9]

On June 13, 2011, a total of 58 units were closed, including 31 Marie Callender's and 27 Perkins Restaurant and Bakerys due to bankruptcy restructuring (Chapter 11).[10] During bankruptcy, PCMI sold the Marie Callender's brand to ConAgra for US$57.5 million.[11] Later that year, PMCI exited bankruptcy under the control of Wayzata Investment Partners.[12]

Marie Callender's Inc.

On August 5, 2019, 29 stores were closed and the holding company for Perkins and Marie Callender's filed bankruptcy.[13][14] The chains were later split apart, with Perkins being bought by Huddle House, while Marie Callender's was sold to Elite Restaurant Group, which formed a new company known as Marie Callender's Inc. to operate the chain, for US$1.75 million.[15][16]



In later years, a typical restaurant would have a fully stocked bar, or saloon, serving alcoholic beverages. This is in contrast to family restaurants like Denny's or Village Inn, which generally do not serve alcoholic beverages. A salad bar is also a staple.

The type of cuisine served is mainly American, although many of the dishes are slanted towards styles of preparation that resemble Italian, Mexican, French, Cajun, or Chinese. Soups and sandwiches are available as meals or à la carte. Pies are signature items on the dessert menu: there are over 30 varieties available.

The interiors of the chain's earlier restaurants are decorated with antiques circa 1900, providing a theme that is reminiscent of Victorian England as well as early United States. Later restaurants reflect more modern tastes, with a clean interior and photos of food.

Frozen foods

For years the chain has licensed its name for shelf-stable and frozen entrees and sides. Various product licenses were included in a sale to ConAgra Foods in 1994 for $140 million.[5] The name Marie Callender's was retained for the food line following the division's sale. In 2010, its cheesy chicken & rice meal was pulled due to a salmonella outbreak.[17]

Don Callender

Don Callender
Donald W. Callender

(1927-09-27)September 27, 1927
DiedJanuary 9, 2009(2009-01-09) (aged 81)
Alma materLong Beach Poly High School
Known forMarie Callender's restaurants and pies
Spouse(s)Katy Callender,
Patricia (first, divorce)
Children2 sons, 2 daughters
Parent(s)Cal Warren Callender
Marie Callender (1907–1995)

Donald W. Callender (September 27, 1927 January 7, 2009)[18] was an American restaurateur and co-founder of the Marie Callender's chain of restaurants, which originated in Southern California.[19][20] He was also the creator of Babe's Slim Pign's in Redlands, P.H. Woods in Moreno Valley, Top-Gun Restaurant Grill, and Babe's Bar-B-Que & Brewery in Rancho Mirage.

Callender is credited as being among the first restaurateurs to offer franchise operations, with the first Marie Callender's franchisee opening 59 years ago in Orange in 1964.[21][22]

Early life

In the 1930s, Marie Callender (1907–1995), her husband Cal Warren Callender, and their only child, Don lived in a trailer park in Huntington Beach. Marie baked and sold pies to augment the family's income, with Don delivering her pies to customers on his bicycle. A 1945 graduate of Long Beach Poly High School, he joined the Merchant Marine for a brief tour at the end of World War II and then returned home to southern California.[20]


By 1948, twenty-one year old Don was working to expand the business by selling pies to restaurants in Long Beach and Orange County. In 1951, he purchased a home on Gondar Ave. in the Plaza area of Long Beach, where the Callender family did their baking before shifting the expanding operation to a Quonset hut on Anaheim St. in Long Beach. Eventually, Don ventured into the retail realm, opening his first outlet in Orange (at 574 N. Tustin St.) and naming it after his mother, Marie.[22] With continued experimentation, he gradually expanded his inventory and added other menu items which would later become Marie Callender fare.

Company sale and other businesses

By the time Don Callender had sold the company in 1986 to Ramada for a reported $80 million, the chain had grown to 120 locations nationwide.[23] Following the sale, Don remained in the restaurant industry, planning to start a second 21,000 square foot (1950 square meter) Babe's in Indio, California. Unfortunately, health issues forced Callender out of the project before seeing the project come to full fruition. The building was subsequently leased to Kaiser Restaurant Group, a local restaurant management consortium. Jackelope Ranch opened the day after Don passed, as a Southwestern-themed barbecue.


Callender died at age 81 in 2009 at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach,[24] due to complications resulting from head trauma sustained during a fall at his home over a year earlier.[19][20][25] He was survived by his second wife of 31 years, Katy Callender and youngest son Lucky (Donald) Callender, in addition to his adult children from his first marriage to Patricia: second daughter Cathe Callender, son-in-law Greg Sprunk; eldest son Glen Warren, daughter-in-law Coral Callender; son-in-law Stephen Winters; and grandchildren, Harmony Callender, Jasmine Winters, Maxx Buchanan, Caitlyn and Cameron Sprunk.

See also

  •  Greater Los Angeles portal
  •  Companies portal
  •  Food portal


  1. "About - Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery". Marie Callender's. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  2. "Contact - Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery". Marie Callender's. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  3. Shin, Tony (5 August 2019). "Marie Callender's Set to Close 19 Locations in Southern California". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  4. "DON CALLENDER: 1927-2009". Chicago Tribune. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  5. Elder, Laura Elizabeth (24 November 1996). "Marie Callender's chain returns for another piece of local pie". Houston Business Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  6. "Ramada Agrees to Sell Its Marie Callender Pie Chain". Los Angeles Times. 25 March 1989. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  7. Hernandez, Greg (November 16, 1999). "Marie Callender's Sold for $150 Million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  8. "Marie Callender Parent Buys East Side Mario's Chain". Los Angeles Times. 1997-02-27. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  9. "Marie Callender's founder, Don Callender, dies". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  10. Luna, Nancy (June 13, 2011). "Marie Callender's closes 31 units amid bankruptcy". Orange County Register. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  11. "ConAgra bought rights to Marie Callender's brand". Reuters. June 14, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  12. Stych, Ed (December 2, 2011). "Perkins emerges from bankruptcy with Wayzata firm in control". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  13. Stempel, Jonathan; Zieminski, Nick (August 5, 2019). "Perkins & Marie Callender's files for bankruptcy". Reuters. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  14. Luna, Nancy (August 5, 2019). "Perkins & Marie Callender's close 29 restaurants amid bankruptcy filing". Nations Restaurant News. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  15. Maze, Jonathan (September 13, 2019). "After 13 years and 2 bankruptcies, Perkins and Marie Callender's split up". Restaurant Business.
  16. Luna, Nancy (6 November 2019). "Slater's 50/50 owner buys Marie Callender's". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  17. Weise, Elizabeth (June 18, 2010). "ConAgra recalls Marie Callender's frozen chicken and rice meals". USA Today. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  18. Social Security Death Index
  19. Noland, Claire (January 11, 2009). "Don Callender, who turned his mom's pie shop in to the Marie Callender's chain, dies at 81". Los Angeles Times. (obituary). Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  20. Hanson, Kristopher (January 10, 2009). "Poly High grad, who made his mom's pies famous, dies at 81". Long Beach Press-Telegram. (California). Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  21. Luna, Nancy (January 9, 2009). "Marie Callender's founder remembered as innovator". Orange County Register. (California). Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  22. Luna, Nancy (June 6, 2016). "End of an era: Marie Callender's closes first restaurant". Orange County Register. (California). Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  23. "Don Callender, 81, Food Entrepreneur, is Dead". The New York Times. 13 January 2009.
  24. "Don Callender, 81, Restaurant Entrepreneur, Dies". The New York Times. 2009-01-12. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  25. Marie Callender's founder, Don Callender, dies
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