Bonanza Steakhouse – What Happened?

The Ever Famous All-You-Can-Eat Bonanza Steakhouse

Eric “Hoss” Cartwright was a beloved character on the popular television show Bonanza. Bonanza aired for 14 consecutive seasons on NBC from 1959-1973.

Hoss from Bonanza gif

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Anybody who was around in the 1960s saw at least one episode of the show Bonanza. Bonanza was synonymous with that era! The series featured a western family in Nevada by the name of Cartwright. The episodes took place on the Cartwright ranch and followed the family as they navigated the ups and downs of life in the west.

Hoss from Bonanza


Dan Blocker was the actor who played the ever-popular Eric “Hoss” Cartwright, one of the sons who helped to run the ranch.

In 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 Pit.

A few years later, in 1966, Sam Blocker sold that restaurant and a few more he had opened to Sam Wyly and his brother, Charles. The Wyly brothers renamed the chain Bonanza Steakhouse.

During the late 1960s, two men named Dan Lasater and Norm Wiese got into the game. They saw how much the chain had taken off and, in particular, how popular the idea of the steakhouse restaurant had become.

Bonanza Steakhouse


For this reason, Lasater and Weise decided to come together and open a chain of steakhouse restaurants modeled after Bonanza, which they called Ponderosa.

Lasater and Weise were none too happy about the theft of the original idea that was their steakhouse. Throughout the remainder of the 1960s and 70s, the two Steakhouses found themselves in fierce competition.

In 1989 Bonanza had grown to 600 locations worldwide, and Ponderosa had grown to over 700. In 1997, Dan Lasater and Norm Weise came to their senses and merged under Metromedia Family Steakhouses or Homestyle Dining, L.L.C., and together the two corporations had 1315 locations.

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The Appeal of Bonanza

Bonanza offered homestyle entrees such as chicken, fish, steak, and of course, the famous all-you-can-eat buffet. The buffet included a fully stocked salad bar and a wide variety of side dishes and desserts.

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The owners ensured that their restaurants made people feel welcome and comfortable. They stressed an atmosphere of casual dining and advertised the slogan, “Come as you are!”

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One of the goals of the Bonanza corporation was to save its customers money. They wanted them to feel like they could have an enjoyable evening with their families without worrying about breaking the bank! In the 1960s, Bonanza Steakhouses were known for charging .99 cents to 1.99 for a steak dinner. A family of 5 could eat for less than $6.00!

And what’s more, the steakhouse chain had a NO TIPPING policy with its customers! They wanted their customers to feel free from pressure to lay out any extra money above and beyond the initial check.

Video: Bonanza Steakhouse TV Commercial 1977

Decline of The Steakhouse Restaurant

At the start of the 21st century, there was a slow but steady decline of the steakhouse restaurant industry. One reason for this was the rising cost of beef. The high beef prices made it virtually impossible for such establishments to offer meal deals at such economical prices,

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Furthermore, as the millennial generation came onto the scene, they began opting for a healthier and calorie-conscious lifestyle. It became clear to steakhouse owners that millennials were not likely to eat big slabs of steak and sides of mashed potatoes slathered in rich, heavy gravy.

Bonanza Steakhouse

Finally, it also became clear that this new generation was beginning to lean toward quick, convenient eating establishments such as Moe’s and Chipoltle, Due to busy schedules, they were less likely to opt for family-style eating and lengthy sit-down meals.

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Little Known Facts About Bonanza Steakhouse Restaurants

The name Ponderosa was also a take on the 1960s Bonanza television show. The Cartwright family lived on the Ponderosa ranch.

Dan Blocker died in 1972 at 43 and didn’t live to see the growth of the Bonanza Steakhouse chain.

Bonanza Steakhouse

Bonanza was one of the first restaurant chains to introduce all-you-can-eat buffet-style dining.

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Bonanza Steakhouse – Still Around

Find a Location:

You can click on the link below to find a location near you!

Franchise Opportunity

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

Bonanza Steakhouse

However, despite these interesting tidbits and a successful run, Bonanza Steakhouse took a hit in the late 90s and early 2000s. The restaurant chain struggled to keep up with changing dining trends and faced stiff competition from other family-style restaurants. It didn’t help that many of their locations were situated in shopping malls, which saw declining foot traffic and sales.

In 2008, the parent company filed for bankruptcy and closed over 100 locations. But all is not lost for fans of the franchise. Today, Bonanza Steakhouse and its sister brand, Ponderosa Steakhouse, still have locations across the United States and in other countries. They’ve adapted to the times, offering online ordering and delivery services alongside their classic menu items.

So, while Bonanza Steakhouse may not be as prominent in pop culture as it once was, it’s still around for fans of casual dining and classic American fare. And who knows? With their recent focus on digital services and convenient dining options, perhaps we’ll see Bonanza make a comeback in the near future.

Coming Back?

Despite facing challenges that led to bankruptcy and closure of over 100 locations, the Bonanza Steakhouse franchise has continued to operate and adapt to the changing times. With a focus on online ordering and delivery services, the restaurant still offers its classic American fare to fans of casual dining. Although it may not be as prominent as it once was, it’s comforting to know that Bonanza Steakhouse is still around and has even expanded to other countries. Who knows what the future holds for this iconic brand? Maybe we’ll see a resurgence in popularity and a return to its former glory days. Until then, we can still enjoy their delicious food and reminisce about the good times.

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55 responses to “Bonanza Steakhouse – What Happened?”

  1. Skip Eubank Avatar
    Skip Eubank

    What is closest ponderosa or Bonanza to Cincinnati Ohio

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      545 S High St.
      Hillsboro, OH, 45133

      1. JOHN Avatar

        We have one in Columbus Ohio on south high st

  2. James Gasbarro Avatar
    James Gasbarro

    Re there any in EasternPennsylvania,Eastern Pennsylvania,New Jersey or Delaware

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      The closest Bonanza to you would be 574 Susquehanna Blvd.
      Hazle Township, PA, 18202

      1. Debbie Bentz Avatar
        Debbie Bentz

        We have one right here in Chambersburg. On Rt 30 East.

    2. Michael Hein Avatar
      Michael Hein

      Wheres the closet of eithrr ti trexlertown pa

      1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

        574 Susquehanna Blvd.
        Hazle Township, PA, 18202

  3. […] deemed “The Beatles Booth” and is nearly as famous as the chain itself. Big Boy restaurants once said that many Beatles fans came from around the world just to sit in the […]

  4. jimmy sparacello Avatar
    jimmy sparacello

    i ran one in pasadena texas in 1975 it was great

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      That’s great 👍

  5. […] not compete with other fast food chains. Lum’s hot dogs were more expensive than other fast food options, and they did not offer the same variety of menu items. Additionally, Lum’s lost its […]

  6. David Engelbert Avatar
    David Engelbert

    Are there any of your restaurants in Colorado?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry, there are none in CO

  7. Marve Adler Avatar
    Marve Adler

    How many Bonanza Steakhouses are left in the United States in 2022?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      There are quite a few still open for business. You can find them by going to their website at

  8. George Avatar

    If there still some open, where’s the closes one to Central N.J.? I’d drive a hr or so to go to one again!

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry but there are none in New Jersey. The closest one would be central Pennsylvania

  9. Amesha McElroy Avatar
    Amesha McElroy

    Were is one in Chicago or the close by

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry, there are none in Illinois. The closest one to you would be St Cloud, MN

      1. Nik Groothuis Avatar
        Nik Groothuis

        there IS a Ponderosa in Vandalia, ILLINOIS, just off of Interstate 70

    2. Joe Fair Avatar
      Joe Fair

      I believe the on on Emerson St in Indianapolis is still open. There was also one around the Dells in Wisconsin a couple years back.

  10. Les Furman Avatar
    Les Furman

    Are there any in Connecticut?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      There are none in CT

  11. […] City, CA. At its peak popularity, the chain operated over 270 locations across America, with most restaurants in western states like California, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, and so […]

  12. Joe Avatar

    Any steak houses in Indiana

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      There is a Ponderosa in Vincennes and one in Scottburg

      1. Danielle Goeing Avatar
        Danielle Goeing

        I tired to go to the one in Scottsburg on 11/3/22 it is now closed.

      2. Eric James Hartman Avatar

        That’s a shame

      3. Eric James Hartman Avatar

        According to their website, that location is still open

    2. Joe Fair Avatar
      Joe Fair

      I believe Emerson St in Indy is still open.

  13. Elaine Beth McCormack Avatar
    Elaine Beth McCormack

    What happen to the Harvest table? Great restaurant to eat at. Even our Bonanza Steakhouse in Michigan. Seems like all these great restaurants are leaving and newer ones coming in are more expensive to eat out at. Bring back these 2 great restaurants.

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry, we are not familiar with Harvest Table Restaurant

  14. Martin Wildi Avatar
    Martin Wildi

    I use to eat Bonanza when I was in high school and love the variety of food they offered. Where can I find a Bonanza Steakhouse in Texas.

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry, there are no Bonanza Steakhouses in the great state of TX

  15. Juanita Avatar

    Springfield illinois?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      There is only one Bonanza Steakhouse in the great state of Illinois and it is here:

      2727 Veterans Avenue
      Vandalia, IL, 62471

  16. Lewis Avatar

    Any Bonanza steakhouses left in maine?

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry, there are no Bonanza Steakhouses in the great state of Maine

      1. Larry Avatar

        I worked at one right out of high school to get money for college

  17. Joey Poole Avatar
    Joey Poole

    We had a Bonanza in Tupelo Mississippi until a few years ago really miss that place reasonably price and good food

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  19. P Iiams Avatar
    P Iiams

    My two oldest children had their first ever job at Bonanza in Minot, ND.

  20. Ben Avatar

    Where is one South bend in

    1. Eric James Hartman Avatar

      Sorry but the closest one to you would be Coldwater, Michigan

  21. […] a recent Facebook post, we asked our members what was some their favorite things to order at Bonanza (yesterday or today). Below is the Top-10 list we compiled using those […]

  22. […] there are still a few Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza restaurants in operation. You can see them on the map […]

    1. George house Avatar
      George house

      Wish we at least had one in texarkana there was two in the 70’s

  23. Jann Avatar

    They need to reopen the one in Presque Isle Maine

  24. Sylvia Barlow Avatar
    Sylvia Barlow

    I always enjoyed eating at Bonanza and the Ponderosa. I hated when they went
    out. There is a few around but not many.
    Is there one of these near Decatur, AL.

  25. Carol Avatar

    We had one in Franklin PA. And I sure do miss it I wished it would come back 😢 😔

  26. Beth Chafe Avatar
    Beth Chafe

    We had them in my home town in NL, Canada, many years ago- they closed due to bad management more than anything else. In later years the place was dark and dingy . Even thou I eat heathly, a good ribeye will still hit the spot!!

  27. […] in 1963, Bonanza was the embodiment of the classic American steakhouse. The rustic, cowboy-themed interior drew you […]

  28. Alan Roberts Avatar
    Alan Roberts

    I liked the Bonanza Steak House,Ponderosa,Sizzles Steak House ,Used to have them in Ga!

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