Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc

Post
doulasc
Junior Burger
2011/11/11 23:05:29
I remember as a kid we had Ponderosa,Bonanza,York steak house etc. What happened to steakhoses.I remember Ponderosa had a number of restaurants around Central Ohio but most
have closed up and they are few and far between now.We still have a York steak house on the west side of Columbus.We had some Bonanza steakhouse also.
 When I lived in Florida there was Sizzlers everywhere.I see they have scaled back.
What is it with steak houses not a big thing like they were. Is it people are watching their health more and laying off red meat.
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/12 08:59:25
I believe that their clientele has migrated to the AYCE buffets, killing the market share of these el cheapo steakhouses.
 
BTW - This thread should be moved to the Chains forum.  The meat at these places was never a Prime Cut.
doulasc
Junior Burger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/12 10:13:56
How would I cmove this thread over to Chains?
Thanks
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/12 16:17:26
This echelon of "steakhouses" used USDA Standard and USDA Commercial grades of beef. 
 
To make the beef edible by humans they had to use so much tenderizer on it that that the beef had an odd grey pallor and seemed "gummy".  And, after eating there I developed the same symptoms that I had from too much MSG:  bloating, flushing, and shortness of breath.  Then later there was even more "flushing"! 
 
I coined a phrase in honor of their "entrees":  predigested meat
post edited by MetroplexJim - 2011/11/12 16:19:07
Foodbme
Porterhouse
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/13 00:55:19
People get tired of eating poor quality meat regardless of price and move on. Too many other choices came into being and customers abandoned them.
I think they treated their meat with the same chemicals as Saddam Hussian used for his WMD! 
post edited by Foodbme - 2011/11/13 00:57:45
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/13 08:48:20
I loved Ponderosa Bonanza when I was a kid.  It was a highlight of our vacation every year to eat there. I think it was those chemicals that made it so good.
post edited by JRPfeff - 2011/11/14 08:50:34
edwmax
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/13 09:25:08
I always thought Western Sizzler was good, as long as I ordered my steak rare.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/13 16:35:46
Back in the days (1970's) of eight kids and one teacher income, dinners out would be few and far between. Sizzler or Ponderosa would be at the top of the chart back then. In addition to the steak dinner the kids could graze what was called the salad bar, then the food court , as more varied stuff was added to that. The wings, chicken salad and other fillers kept my 6 boys and 2 girls happy for several years. The local Sizzler (Clarksville,IN) gave our group of 10, a twenty percent discount for the meal (drinks extra), so while it hit the budget, we did get sort of a break, considering the volume of food consummed at each visit.
 
Jump to the 90's- After divorce, me alone or with a couple of bachelor friends. The only time we stopped at the local Sizzler was on the nights when it was AYCE Steak, or AYCE Beef Ribs for $7.95
 
More recently- No Sizzlers left here in So Indiana. Our last Ponderosa (Corydon,IN) closed a couple of years ago. There is on on I-65 up the road about 30 miles. Our last visits to a Ponderosa (more than once) found it to be more like Gold Corral. We stopped going because the steaks (more than once) were water-logged and still cold in the middle when ordered medium-rare. They did not thaw the meat at all before grilling it.  So we no longer make any attempt to find a Ponderosa.  
 
Our choice seems to be one of the Lone Star or Longhorn or any of the Roadhouse sub-identities (Texas, Logan's ,etc). They are all about the same with a pricing structure that look as though it was printed on the same printer for all brands. Dinner for two runs about $30-35 minus any beer that flows. This is a step up from the $10 per person that the low end steak places used to put out.
DawnT
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/13 18:54:43
Since the 80's with two income households as the norm there was a shift in who controls the purse strings.
Casual daily dining became more common.
Kids were being indoctrinated during the same time period with healthy eating with materials provided by organizations with other motives. That piece of beef on a plate now had a face. It was now poor Elsie's flesh that somebody murdered and eating it was going to kill you.
Same crap filtered up to women's magazines and TV shows with the health message for their families. Beef & Pork= Heart attack on a plate.  Remember Oprah VS  Cattlemen?
Did I mention that women aren't generally red meat eaters in the first place? Yes, I know there are exceptions. Chopped steak or broiled chicken breast are not practical alternatives.
Theme restaurants exploded about the same time. These place had a trendy vibe, offered menus with a wide variety, and were places to see and be seen. The restaurants knew how to attract their primary demographic. The others would follow along. Everything from the drinks to the decadent deserts (yes lots of chocolate) were tailored to match the trends. They were exciting to go to.
The steak emporiums were stodgy, machine, rustic,and sports decor. A place for the boys to have a good time and take down pitchers of beer. Can you say excruciatingly boring?
Many of the steak places did try to change their appeal with AYCE salad bars and menu changes. About the same time the media was declaring open salad bars as playing Russian roulette with your health.
Traditional steak dinner price points raise to uncomfortable numbers.
 
Any questions?
 
ces1948
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza 2011/11/13 20:34:57
The first Bonanza I recall was in the late 60's or very early 70's in St. Pete, FL. I think the sirloin dinner was $1.69 with potato. Don't remember if the salad was included but I think it was. On my budget I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
californyguy
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/13 23:40:33
About 40 years ago , a trip to Bonanza was a special treat for our family- my grandpas eyes would light up and he (and us all) got a kick out of the way he called it Bannanas;good memories of that place!
  
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/14 08:43:41
Maybe we ought to rank steakhouses like the USDA does meat:
 
Prime Plus:  Peter Luger's
Prime:  The Prime Rib (WDC); Morton's, Bern's (Tampa), Harris' (SFO),  Del Frisco's (DFW)
Choice: Smith & Wollenshy's, The Palm
Select:  Ruth's Chris,  Kissimee Steak Co. & Charley's (ORL)
Standard:  Outback, Lone Star
Commercial: Texas Roadhouse (demerits for noise)
Canner:  Wolf's Chili
Dog Food:  Bonanza, Ponderosa, Sizzler 
brisketboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/14 08:58:50
Metroplex, that is about the best ranking I have seen. All the while reading this thread I was hoping someone would do just that. I have eaten at Morton's Ruth's Chris (my boss treated), Outback and Logan's. You are right on the money. Roger on the dog food.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/14 11:39:52
Jim,
  I would add DOE'S Eat Place in the Prime and maybe even the Prime Plus slots. I would probably say Prime, even though it's meat is top-notch. The shanty-style ambience could take a bit away from that Peter Lugar style of 'old wood' and male waiters!
I would drop Morton's to the Ruth Chris level just for the lack of comfort and the arrogance of the wait-staff on both our visits there. The Steak was good, but not DOES or LUGARS Quality and the employees ruined the night for us both times.
Add Ryan's  and Gold Corral at the Canner lever
ALLGOOD
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/14 13:10:59
Sizzler? Ponderosa?  Milwaukee seems devoid of both now.  Used to be a Ponderosa on every main drag.  As for Sizzler, one really bad food poisoning incident, and they were out of town.
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 08:30:11
ALLGOOD

Sizzler? Ponderosa?  Milwaukee seems devoid of both now.  Used to be a Ponderosa on every main drag.  As for Sizzler, one really bad food poisoning incident, and they were out of town.


And people still wonder why Five Guys fry their burgers until the juices run clear!
brisketboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 09:01:40
A perfectly cooked rare steak shouldn't kill anybody but them establishments have them sitting in vats of who-knows-what until needed. I remember as a younger man of limited means living in San Diego on a sailor's pay and taking my wife out to Sizzler was a real special event. If they were in existance today I would not give them the time of day. Here in Austin the Texas Land and Cattle Company serves a good rib eye for a reasonable price.
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 09:02:20
mayor al

Jim,
I would add DOE'S Eat Place in the Prime and maybe even the Prime Plus slots. I would probably say Prime, even though it's meat is top-notch. The shanty-style ambience could take a bit away from that Peter Lugar style of 'old wood' and male waiters!
I would drop Morton's to the Ruth Chris level just for the lack of comfort and the arrogance of the wait-staff on both our visits there. The Steak was good, but not DOES or LUGARS Quality and the employees ruined the night for us both times.
Add Ryan's  and Gold Corral at the Canner lever


I only meant to give examples, not make an exhaustive list.  And, I limited it to places I have patronized in the U.S. 
 
From everything I have read and heard, Doe's belongs in the upper echelons of any list.  And it is most certainly on my "bucket list".
 
Most every major metro area has a local place or two that belong in the Choice or even Prime category.  By reputation and reviews I think of Donovan's in S.D., Bob's in Dallas, Charley Palmer's in Chicago, etc.  And every now and then you can discover a real jewel in unexpected places, like Rick's Chophouse here in McKinney, TX and a place whose name escapes me in Aliquippa, PA. 
 
The Golden Corral here in McKinney is a huge, ghastly buffet.  It's worth $9.95 just to sit and sip iced tea while watching their patrons scarf down their many "offerings".  On "fried shrimp night" they give a prize to anyone who finds a piece of shrimp meat big enough to cover Washington's face on a quarter!
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 09:10:10
brisketboy

A perfectly cooked rare steak shouldn't kill anybody but them establishments have them sitting in vats of who-knows-what until needed. I remember as a younger man of limited means living in San Diego on a sailor's pay and taking my wife out to Sizzler was a real special event. If they were in existance today I would not give them the time of day. Here in Austin the Texas Land and Cattle Company serves a good rib eye for a reasonable price.


That reminds me of a thought I have often while watching Restaurant Impossible and seeing the vile, unsanitary conditions Chef Irvine uncovers in most of those kitchens:  the people who made the mess are still left in charge after the T.V. lights go.  I wonder how long it will take them to re-create their stinking messes?
kozel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 13:05:37
With respect to cheap steak chains if you are from New York, how can you forget Tad's Steaks, Beefsteak Charlie's & on Long Island there was Big Barry's?
SeamusD
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 13:40:01
I stopped eating at Pondergrossa over 20 years ago after my brother worked there for a short while. "Utility grade, fit for human consumption".
fishtaco
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 15:19:31
Sizzler, Ponderossa, Golden Corral and all the rest are not there for people who want a really great steak. The exsist for a family to go out and have a meal. Why do people get so uppity about stuff like that. If you don't want to go. then don't eat there. It's not like everyone can afford to go to Ruth Chris, Mortons etc.
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 15:52:46
kozel

With respect to cheap steak chains if you are from New York, how can you forget Tad's Steaks, Beefsteak Charlie's & on Long Island there was Big Barry's?


Beefsteak Charlie was very clever.  As I recall, part of his "deal" was all the beer (or cheap wine) you cared to drink.  As a result, by the time the steak was served I was sufficiently lubricated so as not to notice any quality deficiencies.
Tony Bad
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 15:58:22
This made me think of this skit from Saturday Night Live, a fake ad for Pre-Chewed Charlies. (yes, there is a short ad)
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xas2fz_saturady-night-live-pre-chew-charlie-s-murray-chase_fun 
bartl
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 16:35:12
MetroplexJim Beefsteak Charlie was very clever.  As I recall, part of his "deal" was all the beer (or cheap wine) you cared to drink.  As a result, by the time the steak was served I was sufficiently lubricated so as not to notice any quality deficiencies.

When I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early 80's, there was a Beefsteak Charlies near 72nd and Broadway that had a bar with unlimited video games; over 18 only. A video game playing friend of mine and I used to eat dinner every Thursday, when then also had an all you can eat barbecued (grilled) beef ribs deal, too.
 
Bart
ces1948
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/17 17:46:47
I remember Tad's, first time I ever set foot in NYC. Seems like they were in the middle of the gaudy, dangerous part of Broadway and 42nd. $2 for a steak and probably an adult theater on one side and a big boom box store on the other. Sure it's more gentrified now days.
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/18 10:40:29
ces1948

I remember Tad's, first time I ever set foot in NYC. Seems like they were in the middle of the gaudy, dangerous part of Broadway and 42nd. $2 for a steak and probably an adult theater on one side and a big boom box store on the other. Sure it's more gentrified now days.


You're making me miss Mama Leone's, a few blocks north bet. B'way & 8th.
MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/18 12:34:55
When I was young and poor, Cheapsteak Barlie's was great.  All-you-can-eat shrimp, all-you-can-eat salad bar, all-you-can-eat ribs and all-you-can-drink beer, wine or sangria for $10.99!
 
This one was on NW 36th Street across from MIA.
post edited by MiamiDon - 2011/11/18 12:37:38
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/18 16:48:15
MiamiDon

When I was young and poor, Cheapsteak Barlie's was great.  All-you-can-eat shrimp, all-you-can-eat salad bar, all-you-can-eat ribs and all-you-can-drink beer, wine or sangria for $10.99!

This one was on NW 36th Street across from MIA.


I think we ate there once in the late '70's.  We had a three hour layover on our way to South America.  I can remember gorging myself and sleeping all the way to LaPaz!
mjambro
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/20 11:37:30
I have fond memories of Tad's - nice inexpensive quick, essentially fast-food - much better than a burger.  Ate there a number of times.  Definitely an odd / memorable ambiance.
 
As for Beefsteak Charlies, all I recall was their limp soggy shrimp cocktail (obviously poorly thawed frozen shrimp) plus I ruined a nice jacket when I leaned up against what was evidently a freshly painted outside wall.  Never went back.
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/20 18:39:24
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I used to eat at all those chains: Bonanza, Ponderosa, Western Sizzlin', etc.  But they all bit the dust, mainly for lack of enough patronage to keep them alive (around the Evansville, IN area anyway).  These days I confine myself to the Longhorn chain.  The ones I've eaten in are a cut above "standard" but not quite "select."  I always ask them to "double the prairie dust" that they put on some cuts.  The "prairie dust" (don't ask me what it is--I don't know--just try it because it really adds to the flavor--is best used on the ribeye; I've tried it with other cuts, but it isn't quite the same; the "prairie dust" and the ribeye make a very tasty marriage.
 
tfrielin
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/21 15:12:46
californyguy

About 40 years ago , a trip to Bonanza was a special treat for our family- my grandpas eyes would light up and he (and us all) got a kick out of the way he called it Bannanas;good memories of that place!
 

I admit I was a starving college kid with not a lot of dining out experience then, but I have fond memories of a Bonanza steakhouse on Birmingham's Southside in the early '70s--maybe about 6th Ave and 19th St(?).
 
I thought the steak was pretty good--possibly a Ribeye, nicely charred---with a good baked potato.  With more experience today, maybe I would not be such a satisfied customer, but I sure was back then.
 
I take it all Bonanza's are now no more?
 
P.S.  Around the same time frame I also sampled the fare at a Western Sizzler and it was awful compared to Bonanza.
gostillerz
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/21 23:10:10
I was at Wendy's today, and a 1/2lb bacon burger combo was almost $8. I left and went to Ponderosa. I got a decent sirloin and the buffet which had some pretty good stuff on it for $9 + tip.
 
For what it is, Ponderosa isn't bad.
tkitna
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/22 05:32:59
There's still a Ponderosa in Weirton WV. Kids used to love eating there, but my daughter got sick a few years back and we never went back.
 
I left home once and moved in with a girl who worked at Ponderosa. After eating that stuff for a week, I went back home.
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/24 09:33:00
Goodness, gracious:  Bonanza and Ponderosa have merged and are still in business!  http://bonanzasteakhouses.com/bonanza/ .
 
This reminds me of (fairly recently late) John Kluge who was the "richest man in America" a while before Bill Gates became a household name.  After he sold Metromedia, among his many investments was the Bonanza Steakhouse chain.
 
Ever the crafty businessman he formulated one of the more creative divorce settlements ever when his marriage to a "trophy wife" (a former nude model from Britain) turned sour.
 
As the Laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia are quite a bit "saner" than say, California's, he quickly disabused her lawyers' dreams of "HALF".  He let her have the "house" (a 2,000 acre estate just outside Charlottesville) and lifetime income equivalent to the annual interest on a billion dollars.  I'm sure his kids (and my graduate school alma mater, The University of Virginia) were happy with that settlement!
 
That's quite a bit more than Michael Jordan paid, but everything is relative.  And that reminds me of a favorite Chris Rock observation:  "Shaq is rich.  The guy who signs his paycheck is WEALTHY!!!". 
post edited by MetroplexJim - 2011/11/24 09:35:41
kman160
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/25 09:30:33
Heading to Mom's yesterday I couldn't believe the only place open along the plastic strip of fast food & mini-marts was Ponderosa.
senor boogie woogie
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/28 06:18:25
 
Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the show Bonanza opened the first Bonanza restaurant in (oddly ) Connecticut in 1963. Three years later, he sold it to a pair of brothers named Wyley who kept and expanded the operation until 1989. The Ponderosa brand was a seperate entity, started by another group of businessmen in Kokomo Indiana, who expanded their operations into Canada. In the 1990's, both companies were bought by a corporation called Metromedia Restaurants who also owned Benigans and Steak and Ale (Steak and Ale oddly is not good. Love the Henry the Eighth decor, but the food was rubbish). One of the corporation's subsidaries went into Chapter 7 in 2008 sinking about 300 stores.
 
It looks like Metromedia is trying to sell franchises.
 
http://www.ponderosasteakhouses.com/ponderosa/menu_dinein.html
 
Bonanza's/Ponderosa's website is not very good. Not much actual information. Their menu is really quite generic. Steak, hamburgers, some grilled fish. No pictures of the food and no prices. Well, I guess that's OK since it is a basic menu and if you can't afford to eat there, you are too poor anyway. But I like to look at these websites because they are a good way to promote your menu and restaurant. Say what you will about Taco Bell, they have a great, colorful, interesting website.
 
I went to their store locator to see if there were any Bonanza's in Memphis. There is also an option to find  any Bonanza restaurants within 200 miles of Memphis. There were several locations, all located in small communities. Probably in these small towns, Bonanza is one of the better restaurants in town. I played with the map a bit with different locations and the only major city I have seen one in is Cincinnati, Ohio. Sort of a Catch 22. Ponderosa works best in smaller towns, but now there is little work in the smaller towns.
 
We used to go to Ryan's Steakhouse. Now that place was a gut buster. I could not imagine having to work in one of those places, cooking all that damn food for the trough (buffet) and then eating meat on top of that with ice cream with all kinds of sugary sprinkles. Eat there, and you wont take a doo doo for three days.
 
One of the most beautiful steaks I have seen is on this website:
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Overview/3380/eddies-supper-club
 
 
 
 
 
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/11/28 10:20:06
senor boogie woogie 

In the 1990's, both companies were bought by a corporation called Metromedia Restaurants who also owned Benigans and Steak and Ale (Steak and Ale oddly is not good. Love the Henry the Eighth decor, but the food was rubbish).



Metromedia = John Kluge.  See above.
 
Mrs. Kluge:   
 
The Kluge Estate:  (now owned by Donald Trump!)

post edited by MetroplexJim - 2011/12/20 17:03:35
Heartbreaksoup
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/12/13 15:22:50
I noticed there was a Western Sizzlin still active and, apparently, thriving in Moultrie, down in south Georgia on a road trip through the area yesterday.  I've no interest in such a place, but thought I'd note it since there's some curiosity in this thread.
mjambro
Cheeseburger
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/12/18 12:27:22
kozel

With respect to cheap steak chains if you are from New York, how can you forget Tad's Steaks?

 
While in Manhattan this past weekend, I came across a Tads on West 47th st, just west of 7th ave.  Didn't stop, but it brought back memories of when I was last there, perhaps 20 years ago. 
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/12/20 17:09:30
Doesn't Tad's and didn't Beefsteak Charley's serve a bit higher grade of beef than Pondo-Bonanz?
MetroplexJim
Filet Mignon
Re:Steakhouses-like Ponderosa,Bonaza,Sizzler etc 2011/12/20 17:19:44
Re: Patricia Kluge's world-record divorce settlement: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20118282,00.html
 
And after receiving $1.6 million A WEEK for 21 years she is bankrupt??!!??  And working for Donald Trump!  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/business/patricia-kluge-loses-her-fortune-in-the-downturn.html?pagewanted=all
 
There has to be a motion picture made of this.  Maybe Bonanza can do the catering for the set.