Steak and Ale
|Fate||Filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy|
|Founded||February 26, 1966|
|Defunct||July 29, 2008|
|Headquarters||Plano, Texas, U.S.|
Steak and Ale was an American chain of casual dining restaurants, operated by S&A Restaurant Group. Steak and Ale was founded as an independent restaurant chain in Dallas, Texas, on February 26, 1966, by Norman Brinker. The remaining 58 locations closed as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding on July 29, 2008.
Popular menu items at Steak and Ale included the signature herb roasted prime rib, kensington club, New York strip, filet mignon, Hawaiian chicken and spicy grilled chicken pasta. The restaurant featured unlimited salad bar or a choice of soup with most of its entrees on the dinner menu. It also featured free drink refills and a honey wheat bread formerly known as squaw bread before a group of native Americans threatened to protest and sue over the offensive use of the word squaw. Steak and Ale also offered a lunch menu with many items for $6.99. During the mid 90's, in an attempt to revitalize lagging sales the "Early Evening" menu was introduced. In addition to lower prices, all the "Early Evening" fares included a free beverage and free dessert. Some of the complimentary desert selections where strawberry sundown cake, twilight triple fudge cake and spice cake. The restaurant also featured wine samples for only 25 cents.
Restaurant pioneer Norman Brinker founded Steak and Ale in 1966 in Dallas. The chain, with its dimly lit dining rooms, has billed itself as offering an upscale steak experience at lower prices. It was seen as a model for the casual-dining steakhouse chain, and many executives there went on to run other large chains.
It remained an independent chain until 1976, when Pillsbury purchased it and folded it into its restaurant group with Burger King, Bennigan's and other stores. At the time, the company had 113 locations of Steak and Ale and Jolly Ox (the name Steak and Ale used in markets that didn't allow a reference to liquor in a restaurant name).
In 1982, Pillsbury spun off the company and Bennigan's into the independent S&A Restaurant Corp. Steak and Ale grew as one of the first chain dinner houses to its height in the late 1980s with 280 locations, before competition that the brand helped inspire eroded its market presence. In 1988, Metromedia purchased the company. In 1993, the company was merged with the Metromedia Steak Houses chains Bonanza and Ponderosa, and all three chains were operated under the S&A Restaurant Group brand.
The S&A Restaurant Corp bankruptcy in July 2008 also affected the Bennigan's restaurant chain, also owned by that company; all of the company-owned stores closed the same day as the Steak and Ale restaurants. Franchised Bennigan's locations remained open.
The MetroMedia Company also owns the Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse chains, which are not affected by the bankruptcy filing; they are operated by a different subsidiary of the company.
Even though the Steak & Ale brand was previously corporate-owned and closed in its entirety during the bankruptcy, the investment firm Atalaya Capital Management intends to acquire the brand and its trademark with the intent of leaving an option open in the future for franchisees to open independently-operated Steak & Ale restaurants.