Ponderosa Steakhouse – What Happened?
Ponderosa Steakhouse

Ponderosa and Bonanza

The first Ponderosa Steakhouse was established in 1968 in Kokomo, Indiana, by Dan Lasater and Norm Wiese. Lasalet, who only had a high school education, had experience working at McDonald’s Restaurants. Wiese had an auto dealership and owned some real estate. The two joined resources and the rest is history

Who else would know a good steak but the great Hoss Cartwright, portrayed by Dan Blocker on the TV western “Bonanza”. Dan founded Bonanza Steakhouse in 1963 and opened his first restaurant in Westport, Connecticut. Sadly, Dan passed away in 1972

Ponderosa Steakhouse

Three years later, brothers Sam and Charles Wyly bought the small chain and started to expand the business. By 1988, they had grown their chain to 600 Bonanza restaurants! In the late 1980s, the Wyly brothers sold Bonanza to arch-rival Metromedia Restaurant Group who owned Ponderosa Steakhouse. Metromedia would go on to keep both restaurant brands under their ownership

Ponderosa Steakhouse Management

Bonanza and Ponderosa Steakhouse both had a limited menu focusing on meat and potatoes with salad bar options. Because the restaurant was “cafeteria style”, labor costs were kept low

Ponderosa Steakhouse

What goes up must come down

The late 1980s economic recession took a terrible toll on Metromedia Restaurant group and sales at their restaurants steadily declined. In 2008, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In 2017, the chain was sold again to FAT Brands, who also owns “Fatburger” restaurants. By this time, only a few Bonanza and Ponderosa Steakhouse locations still existed

Gift Shop
Gift Shoppe

Ponderosa Steakhouse – Still Around

Today, there are still a few Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza restaurants in operation. You can see them on the map below

Ponderosa Steakhouse

Find a Location:

You can click on the link below to find a specific location by entering your ZIP Code:


Ponderosa Steakhouse

The Restaurant Today

Although Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza are no longer a major player in their field, the parent company has stepped into the future by sending out redeemable coupon offers via mobile devices to get customers in the doors. So far, they have had success in this venture

Video: Ponderosa Steakhouse Commercial from 1975

The Munsters Gift Shop
The Munsters Online Store
Franchise Opportunity

It’s still possible to own a Ponderosa Steakhouse or Bonanza restaurant. To inquiry about franchise opportunities, you can click the steak below:

Ponderosa Steakhouse
tie dye tee shirts

A Piece of Nostalgia

For many of us who grew up going to Ponderosa or Bonanza restaurants, there are many fond memories to recall. Although many of the remaining franchises are out of reach for most Americans, we can all still hold onto those precious memories!

Ponderosa Steakhouse
automotive clothing

What about those of us who still crave a good steak or salad bar fix? Although Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza are no longer a major player in their field, the parent company has stepped into the future by sending out redeemable coupon offers via mobile devices to get customers in the doors. So far, they have had success in this venture.

And for those who yearn for the nostalgia of Ponderosa Steakhouse, there is still a glimmer of hope. It’s still possible to own a Ponderosa Steakhouse or Bonanza restaurant.

buy chess boards and pieces

So, while the iconic chain may no longer be as prevalent as it once was, we can all still hold onto those precious memories of juicy steaks and endless salad bars. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll see a resurgence of the beloved Ponderosa Steakhouse. For now, we can still relive those fond memories and savor the flavors of the past.

American Memory Lane on Facebook
American Memory Lane on Instagram

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

23 responses to “Ponderosa Steakhouse – What Happened?”

  1. […] by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1930. The Colonel began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky. He used a pressure cooker to fry the chicken, which reduced the cooking time […]

  2. […] 1963 Dan Blocker decided to play off of the show’s popularity, and he opened a western-style steakhouse by the same name. The first Bonanza Steakhouse was opened in Westport, Ct. under the Bonanza Sirloin […]

  3. […] six months, he sliced a bun into three sections and added two hamburger patties, thus creating the first double-decker cheeseburger ever. If this creation sounds familiar, […]

  4. […] lovers out there, but it’s not an indulgence everyone can afford at many restaurants. Sizzler steak houses have offered a cost-effective alternative for families wanting a good meal for more than […]

    1. Kathy Ervin Avatar
      Kathy Ervin

      I loved Ponderosa so much , I took a job there and worked till it went out of business . I loved the food and the steaks were delicious . It was affordable to all. And a very friendly place to eat . Our GM would go sit at some of the tables where our customers or we called family members and eat with them or just sit and drink a cup of coffee with them . We had a great team that we worked with and we all loved our job . It was very depressing knowing we were going to have to close the plase down . Oh how I miss that ribeye steak and baked potatoe and that salad bar . Please come back Ponderosa.

      1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

        They are still in business. We go every other week for a nice meal

  5. Tim Baynum Avatar
    Tim Baynum

    Wish ponderosa was still in northern KY

    1. Terry Albert Avatar
      Terry Albert

      My husband proposed to me at Ponderosa in Austintown, Ohio we have been married 46 years next month.

  6. Deborah Caine Avatar
    Deborah Caine

    Wish they bring the good ones again

  7. Ross Payne Avatar
    Ross Payne

    From a similar standpoint….what ever happened to Steak and Burger and Outback Steakhouse….?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Outback has hundreds of locations still operating in the USA. You can check them out here: https://locations.outback.com/index.html

      As for Steak and Burger, we never heard of them. Perhaps you meant Steak & Shake? They are also thriving

  8. Beth Daugherty Avatar
    Beth Daugherty

    I wish ponderosa was still in Michigan.

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      There are 5 open in MI still. Check their website. The link is here: https://pon-bon.com/locations

  9. Frank Avatar

    If there are investers out that believe in Ponderosa,( If I had the funds,I would open a Ponderosa)get together and bring Ponderosa back

  10. Joe Brady Avatar
    Joe Brady

    Bonanza and Western Sizzlin were very popular in north central Louisiana and finally closed when the franchisees died off and no one took them over.

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Bonanza still has several locations open for business in the United States

  11. Leland Stronks Avatar
    Leland Stronks

    When I was a kid there use to be a Ponderosa motel in Burley Idaho.I was a maintenance man there one summer. Dad would take us all there for special dinners.

  12. Don Norris Newhouse Avatar
    Don Norris Newhouse

    Bring a Ponderosa back to Greensburg Pa 15601

  13. […] popular meal including 3 pieces of fried chicken, fries, cole slaw, and a roll, was advertised as a restaurant favorite for just 99 cents! It was also the first and one of the only fast-food chains to offer a […]

  14. peaches70170 Avatar

    Wish Ponderosa was still in Appleton, WI. So miss that place.

  15. Beverly Chomyn Avatar
    Beverly Chomyn

    We use to have one in Leduc Alberta Canada. I miss it.I loved going there.Wish they would come back.

  16. Tim Bell Avatar
    Tim Bell

    I use to work at the 1 in ALTOONA PENNSYLVANIA from 8/89 to 2/94 an the food was great .Wish they would bring1 back to the area.

  17. Gary Roro Avatar
    Gary Roro

    We loved Ponderosa and Bonazana restaurants wish they would come back to the Des Moines area

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: