Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses

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Ponderosa Steakhouse
Bonanza Steakhouse
TypeWholly owned subsidiary
IndustryCasual dining, buffet
Founded1965; 56 years ago (1965)
HeadquartersPlano, Texas
Number of locations
27 in U.S.; 55 worldwide (2021)[1]
ProductsSteak, salad, seafood
ParentFAT Brands
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.[2] Its menu includes steaks, seafood, and chicken entrées, all of which come with their buffet for a nominal charge. A lunch menu is also served.

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 TV series Bonanza, which was set at a place called Ponderosa Ranch.


A Bonanza steakhouse in Marquette, Michigan, in 2011. This location has since closed.

In 1963, Dan Blocker, who played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on Bonanza,[3] 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,[4] when the Wylys sold it to Metromedia.[5]

In 1965, Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese and Charles Kleptz founded Ponderosa in Kokomo, Indiana, moving the headquarters to Dayton, Ohio, in 1971.[6]

Ponderosa began operating in Canada by 1971 and remained there until 1986, when its focus moved to post-recession US. After closing most Canadian Ponderosa restaurants,[7] the company returned to generating US restaurant franchises in 1986, 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.[8] In the meantime, Bonanza maintained a presence in Canada.[9]

In 1988, Ponderosa was sold to Metromedia.[6]

In 1997, Ponderosa and Bonanza united under the Metromedia Family Steakhouses (MFS) organization to be marketed under the Ponderosa or Bonanza brands. MFS was one of founder John Kluge’s companies using the Metromedia name.

The chain's parent company, Metromedia Steakhouses Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, although it planned to reorganize around franchise operations and a profitable core of company-operated restaurants.[10] [11] It emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 under the name "Homestyle Dining LLC".[12]

The chain engaged Trinity Capital LLC as its financial advisor in 2016 and was sold in late 2017 to FAT Brands, the owner of Fatburger, Buffalo's Cafe, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Hurricane BTW that have a total of approximately 300 locations open and 300 under development in 32 countries.[13] [14]

In August 2020, it was announced that FAT Brands will acquire the restaurant franchise Johnny Rockets for $25 million. With the acquisition, the firm is set to expand to 700 locations within nine chains.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "All Ponderosa & Bonanza Locations | steaks, seafood, buffet". locations.pon-bon.com. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  2. ^ Richard K. Miller & Associates (2006). The Restaurant and Foodservice Market Research Handbook. Richard K. Miller & Associates. p. 168. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  3. ^ "Dan Blocker". IMDb.com. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  4. ^ "The 400 Richest Americans: #354, Samuel Wyly", Forbes magazine, September 21, 2006
  5. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Ponderosa To Buy Rival". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Stephens, Caleb. "Local Ponderosa restaurants fall from six to two", "Dayton Business Journal", April 18, 2003.
  7. ^ Mazerolle, Brent (November 7, 2010). "Last Ponderosa set to close". Winnipegfreepress.com. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  8. ^ Deanne Brandon (November 1, 1985). "General Mills Restaurants - 11.01.85 - SI Vault". Orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  9. ^ "Mystery of Bonanza safe cracked". Saskatoon StarPhoenix. April 29, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  10. ^ SOURCE: Metromedia Steakhouses Company, L.P.
  11. ^ "Parent of Ponderosa, Bonanza steakhouses files for bankruptcy " "Dallasnews.com", October 22, 2008
  12. ^ Plano-based Metromedia Steakhouses Company emerges from Chapter 11, renamed Homestyle Dining LLC "Pegasus News", October 16, 2009
  13. ^ SOURCE: BusinessWire
  14. ^ "FAT Brands Completes Acquisition of Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses for $10.5 Million " "www.businesswire.com", October 31, 2017
  15. ^ Kang, Jaewon (August 13, 2020). "Fatburger Owner to Acquire Johnny Rockets for $25 Million". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 13, 2020.

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