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Sizzler USA Restaurants, Inc.
Founded1958; 62 years ago (1958) in Culver City, California as Del's Sizzler Family Steak House
FoundersDel and Helen Johnson
HeadquartersMission Viejo, California, U.S.
Number of locations
Area served
United States
Key people
James A. Collins, CEO (1967–1999)
ProductsSteak, seafood, salads

Sizzler is a United States-based[1] restaurant chain with headquarters in Mission Viejo, California with locations mainly in California plus some in the adjacent states of Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, and Oregon. It is known for steak, seafood, and salad bar items.

Since 2011, Sizzler restaurants outside of the United States are currently owned by Australia-based Collins Foods, doing business as Sizzler International, and are not related to the American firm.


The chain was founded in 1958 as Del's Sizzler Family Steak House by Del and Helen Johnson in Culver City, California.[2] The chain is composed of more than 270 locations throughout the U.S.[3] Most of Sizzler's U.S. locations are in the West.

Steak and lobster with fries from Sizzler

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sizzler promoted steak and combination steak dinners with an optional salad bar. The restaurant wanted to give customers the feel of a full-service restaurant at a price slightly more than a fast food chain. To control costs, many restaurants had in-house meat cutters that would cut steaks and grind beef.

Into the early to mid 1980s, competition appeared: Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse. After promotions, such as all-you-can-eat fried shrimp, the chain expanded its salad bar into a full buffet promoted as the "Buffet Court." Patrons began to use the buffet as a meal instead of an add-on to an entree. In response, Sizzler lowered the quality in other menu areas.[4] Customers took notice, and Sizzler's reputation suffered.

Sizzler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996 ("to escape costly leases on unprofitable restaurants"), and closed over 130 of its locations.[5][6][7] The company reemerged from Chapter 11 in 1997. During the late 1990s, new management upgraded the quality of food and increased prices. Twenty one locations closed in 2001. Sizzler began an image makeover circa 2002. A new restaurant concept was created, featuring a lighter and more open dining room. The changes were accompanied by a new menu. In an effort to return to its roots, steaks, seafood, and the salad bar were emphasized, while the all-you-can-eat buffet was phased out in some locations, however it still remains today in many others.[4]

In the 1990s, Sizzler ran upscale locations with the Buffalo Ranch Steakhouse brand.[8][9][10]

Sizzler was sold to Pacific Equity Partners, an Australian-based investment firm, in 2005.[1] In January 2008, Sizzler announced it was planning to take action against the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) of Urbandale, Iowa, over the use of the name The Sizzler (Hot Lotto).[11]

In June 2011, Sizzler USA announced that a US management group led by the Sizzler CEO, would buy the American portion of the chain of 178 restaurants from Pacific Equity Partners with the remaining 100 restaurants located outside of the United States remaining with Pacific Equity Partners.[12] The headquarters initially remained in Culver City, California where the chain was founded,[13] but moved to Mission Viejo, California in 2012.[14]

Sizzler has launched its "ZZ" food truck to expand sales and test market new dishes.[15]

International locations[edit]

Sizzler in Musashino, Japan

Sizzler also has restaurants throughout the world including Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. After Sizzler USA's separation from Sizzler International in 2011, all locations outside the United States are operated by Collins Foods.[16][17]

The Australian Sizzlers were reasonably popular from the late 20th century to the 2000s. In the 2013, financial year Collins Foods reported stalling revenue for their Sizzler operations in Australia, blaming the downturn of the casual dining sector in the country, and the reduction of visits from Sizzler Australia Patron, Andrew Scotford.[18]

By 2015, Collins Foods wrote down the value of Sizzler by AU$37.5 million. In an investors meeting by Collins Foods, CEO Graham Maxwell states: "We no longer consider Sizzler to be a strategic growth prospect in Australia and therefore we will not be investing further capital". Collins Foods began to close a number of Sizzler restaurants in Australia. Meanwhile, Collins Foods' Sizzler operations in Asia continued to thrive, with further expansion planned in China.[19]


Food safety[edit]

In 2000, more than 60 people became ill and one person died in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that originated at a Sizzler restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Health officials said that the most likely source of contamination was meat supplied by the Excel Corporation meat packer. The health officials believed that cross contamination to other food items occurred when Sizzler employees handled the meat near areas where salad bar items were prepared.[20] This was similar to an outbreak in Washington and Oregon in 1993. In the 1993 case, as in 2000, the tainted meat apparently came from Excel, and contaminated salad bar items.[21] This ultimately lead to Sizzler closing the chain's remaining Midwest locations including those in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

In 2006, all 28 Sizzler restaurants across Australia suspended salad bar service after rat poison was found in two Brisbane Sizzler restaurants. Sizzler Australia referred to the incidents as sabotage.[22][23] The culprit turned out to be a woman described as being mentally unstable.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Sizzler Story". 1958-01-27. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  2. ^ "Sizzler USA Franchise, Inc". Chain Leader. Archived from the original on 2016-01-12. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  3. ^ "Our History". Sizzler. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18.
  4. ^ a b Norris, Maya (2006-09-01). "Cast in a New Light". Chain Leader. Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  5. ^ Wilcox, Gregory J. (1996-06-04). "Sizzler Closes Outlets". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2012-06-22 – via TheFreeLibrary.
  6. ^ HUESMANN, CHRIS. "SIZZLER CLOSES 7 EAST BAY OUTLETS AS PART OF RESTRUCTURING." Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), Final ed., sec. Business, 4 June 1996, p. C01. NewsBank, Accessed 26 June 2019.
  7. ^ BROOKS, NANCY RIVERA. "SIZZLER FILES FOR CHAPTER 11, TO CLOSE 130 OUTLETS." Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), Final ed., sec. news, 3 June 1996, p. A06. NewsBank, Accessed 26 June 2019.
  8. ^ Jacobsen, Max (1993-04-15). "Upscale Buffalo Ranch Sizzzzzles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  9. ^ "Sizzler declares bankruptcy". Las Vegas Sun. 1996-06-03. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
  10. ^ Young, David (1994-07-06). "Beef On The Comeback Trail". Chicago Tribune.
  11. ^ "Sizzler said to be considering trademark suit against lottery group". Nation's Restaurant News. Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  12. ^ Crowe, Deborah (June 10, 2011). "Sizzler USA Acquired by Management Group". Los Angeles Business Journal. The deal announced late Thursday separates 178 owned or franchised Sizzler locations in the United States from about 100 restaurants overseas that Pacific Equity will continue to control
  13. ^ Luna, Nancy (2011-06-09). "Sizzler sold to team led by CEO". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  14. ^ Luna, Nancy (2012-04-10). "Sizzler moves headquarters to Orange County". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  15. ^ Marte, Jonnelle (2012-07-20). "10 Things Food Trucks Won't Say". SmartMoney. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  16. ^ Hammond, Michelle (2011-07-05). "Collins Foods' IPO plans highlight food sector strength". StartupSmart. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  17. ^ "ASX release - Collins Foods Limited 2016 Annual Report" (PDF). Collins Foods. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 26 Nov 2016 – via Australian Securities Exchange.
  18. ^ Pash, Chris (2015-06-25). "Sizzler is dying in Australia as owner pulls investment". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  19. ^ "Some Sizzler restaurants to shut after Collins Foods posts loss". Brisbane Times. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  20. ^ Held, Tom (2000-08-25). "Beef grinder close to salad prep area, official says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2006-01-31.
  21. ^ "Cross contamination caused outbreak". About E coli. Marler Clark. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  22. ^ "Sizzler shuts salad bars over poison scare". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-03-01.
  23. ^ Stevens, Craig (2006-02-28). "Media Statement" (PDF). Sizzler International (Press release). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06.
  24. ^ "Sizzler woman too sick for court". Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 2006-03-02. ISSN 0312-6315. Retrieved 2012-04-30.

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