Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse

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Ponderosa Steakhouses LLC
Bonanza Steakhouses LLC
Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Casual dining, Buffet
Founded 1965
Headquarters Plano, Texas
Number of locations
Products Steak, salad, seafood
Parent Homestyle Dining LLC[1]
Website PonderosaSteakhouses.com
A Ponderosa Steakhouse in West Branch, Michigan.

Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse are a chain of buffet/steakhouse restaurants that are a part of Homestyle Dining LLC based in Plano, Texas.

Unlike other chains with two names, such as 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.

The names of the restaurants were derived from the classic TV series Bonanza, which was set at a place called Ponderosa Ranch.


A Bonanza steakhouse in Marquette, Michigan. This location has since closed.

In 1963, Dan Blocker, who played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on Bonanza,[2] started the Bonanza Steakhouse chain. The first Bonanza opened in Westport, Connecticut. 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,[3] when the Wylys sold it.

In 1965, Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese and Charles Kleptz founded Ponderosa in Kokomo, Indiana.[4] Ponderosa began operations to Canada by at least 1971,[5] 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 converted them to Red Lobster restaurants.[6] 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 the business as usual. Bob Hoffman, company President, emphasized that the filing would have a positive long-term impact on the Company's domestic and international operations.[7] [8]

In October 2009, the company emerged from bankruptcy under the name Homestyle Dining LLC.[9] In 2012, Homestyle Dining LLC launched redesigned Ponderosa and Bonanza websites. As of October, 2016, 12 Bonanza locations remain in operation in the United States. [10] Ponderosa locations are listed on their own website and as of May 2017 had about 60 locations open mostly in the Great Lakes region. [11] Customer service operates from the previous offices of Steak and Ale in Plano, Texas.


Ponderosa's menu includes steaks, seafood, and chicken entrées, all of which come with the buffet for a nominal charge, 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 such as green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rice pilaf, plus several off-menu entrée items such as 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 such as 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ amanda (July 20, 2012). "Management Moves: Homestyle Dining LLC, Sage Restaurant Group". Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Dan Blocker". Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  3. ^ "The 400 Richest Americans: #354, Samuel Wyly", Forbes magazine, September 21, 2006
  4. ^ Stephens, Caleb. "Local Ponderosa restaurants fall from six to two", "Dayton Business Journal", April 18, 2003.
  5. ^ "Eating out". The Globe and Mail (ProQuest). Toronto ON. 21 August 1971. p. A18. 
  6. ^ Deanne Brandon (November 1, 1985). "General Mills Restaurants - 11.01.85 - SI Vault". orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  7. ^ SOURCE: Metromedia Steakhouses Company, L.P.
  8. ^ "Parent of Ponderosa, Bonanza steakhouses files for bankruptcy " "Dallasnews.com", October 22, 2008
  9. ^ Plano-based Metromedia Steakhouses Company emerges from Chapter 11, renamed Homestyle Dining LLC "Pegasus News", October 16, 2009
  10. ^ "Locations – Bonanza Steakhouses". Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Locations – Ponderosa Steakhouses". Retrieved May 25, 2017. 

External links[edit]