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