Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse
|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Industry||Casual dining, Buffet|
|Headquarters||Kokomo, Indiana, U.S.|
|Number of locations||225|
|Products||Steak, salad, seafood, soft drinks|
|Parent||Homestyle Dining LLC|
Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse are a chain of buffet/steakhouse restaurants.
Unlike other chains with two names like Checkers and Rally's, which uses only one of the names in a given region, restaurants in a given region could be named either Bonanza or Ponderosa. This is because Bonanza and Ponderosa were separate companies, which were later merged under the Metromedia Restaurant Group—since both chains competed in some markets prior to merger, names vary from location to location within an area.
In 1963, Dan Blocker, who played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on Bonanza, started the Bonanza Steakhouse chain. The first Bonanza opened in Westport, CT. Sam Wyly and his brother Charles Wyly bought the small Bonanza restaurant chain three years later. The company grew to approximately 600 restaurants by 1989, when the Wylys sold it.
In 1965, Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese and Charles Kleptz founded Ponderosa in Kokomo, Indiana. Norm Wiese was a local auto dealer for Oldsmobile and GMC Trucks. Ponderosa began operations to Canada by at least 1971, amid little apparent demand in the US, and remained in Canada until 1984, when the post-recession US appeared to present a more viable market for expansion. After closing all Canadian Ponderosa restaurant locations, the company returned to generating US restaurant franchises in 1985, reversing a previous freeze on new US franchises in the move to Canada. At that time, 36 Canadian Ponderosa locations were acquired by General Mills Restaurant Group which later converted them to Red Lobster restaurants. In the meantime, Bonanza maintained a presence in Canada.
In 1997, Ponderosa and Bonanza united under the Metromedia Family Steakhouses organization to form a single restaurant concept marketed under either the Ponderosa or Bonanza brand. MFS was a forerunner company of the former Metromedia entertainment conglomerate founded by John Kluge.
In late July 2008, the S&A Restaurant Group, a Metromedia Restaurant Group subsidiary, filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy, and closed over 300 company-owned Bennigan's and Steak and Ale restaurants. The company said that company-owned locations would not reopen, that franchise locations would not be affected, and that the company would continue operations of Bonanza and Ponderosa Steakhouse chains owned by a different subsidiary, Metromedia Steakhouses Co. LP. Metromedia Restaurant Group also shut down the ponderosasteakhouses.com and bonanzasteakhouses.com websites, perhaps as an alternative to reconfiguring the sites to remove former parent company content. As of December 17, 2008 the Ponderosasteakhouses.com and Bonanzasteakhouses.com websites have returned.
On October 22, 2008, Metromedia Steakhouses Company, L.P. and certain affiliates, which operate a chain of restaurants under the Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse brands, announced the filing of voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code relief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware. The company planned to reorganize around franchise operations and a profitable core of company-operated restaurants, stressing that it would continue operating in business as usual. Bob Hoffman, company President, emphasized that the filing will have a positive long-term impact on the Company's domestic and international operations. 
In October 2009, the company emerged from bankruptcy under the name Homestyle Dining LLC. In 2012, Homestyle Dining LLC launched redesigned Ponderosa and Bonanza websites. As of November 2012, the updated Bonanza store locator indicates that there are 21 Bonanza locations in the United States.
Ponderosa's menu includes steaks, seafood, and chicken entrées, all of which come with the buffet, and a choice of potato. A lunch menu is also served. Patrons may choose a dinner entrée at any time, the lunch menu also includes sandwiches and specially priced lunch portions of dinner entrées. Sandwiches typically include simply a choice of potato, whereas entrées include access to the buffet.
The chain features Pepsi products and has a proprietary steak sauce recipe.
Buffets at the restaurants are typically divided into four different sections:
- Salad bar: Contains fruits, several pre-made salads, and an array of ingredients from which patrons may build their own salads.
- Hot food bar: Offers several side dishes like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rice pilaf, plus several off-menu entrée items like fried chicken, grouper and meatloaf.
- Soup bar: Each restaurant offers assorted soups and crackers.
- Dessert bar: The dessert bar features all-you-can-eat soft-serve ice cream with toppings, and desserts like apple crisp, gelatin, and bread pudding.
Before 1984, restaurants did not offer a hot food bar, but marketed a long salad bar as "The World's Biggest, Best Salad Buffet", as advertised on TV by then-company-president Gerald Office. The company later introduced a "Hot Spot" soup and salad buffet, which for a brief trial facilitated promoting a breakfast menu in selected locations.
- Dan Blocker - Biography
- "The 400 Richest Americans: #354, Samuel Wyly", Forbes magazine, September 21, 2006
- Stephens, Caleb. "Local Ponderosa restaurants fall from six to two", "Dayton Business Journal", April 18, 2003.
- Frank Deford (January 27, 1975). "Dan Lasater made a fortune in the fast-food business - 01.27.75 - SI Vault". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- "Eating out". The Globe and Mail (ProQuest) (Toronto ON). 21 August 1971. p. A18.
- Deanne Brandon (November 1, 1985). "General Mills Restaurants - 11.01.85 - SI Vault". orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
- SOURCE: Metromedia Steakhouses Company, L.P.
- "Parent of Ponderosa, Bonanza steakhouses files for bankruptcy " "Dallasnews.com", October 22, 2008
- Plano-based Metromedia Steakhouses Company emerges from Chapter 11, renamed Homestyle Dining LLC "Pegasus News", October 16, 2009
- Ponderosa Steakhouse company site
- Bonanza Steakhouse company site
- Last Ponderosa Closed in Canada
- Last Ponderosa Set to Close (Moncton, Canada)