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For other uses, see Sizzler (disambiguation).
Sizzler USA Restaurants, Inc.
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1958
Headquarters Mission Viejo, California, U.S.
Key people
Del and Helen Johnson (founders)
Products Steak, seafood, salads
Owner Sizzler USA (United States)
Pacific Equity Partners (outside USA)

Sizzler is a United States-based[1] restaurant chain with headquarters in Mission Viejo, California. It is known for steak, seafood, and salad bar items.


Sizzler in Musashino, Japan

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 mainly steak and combination steak dinners with an optional salad bar. The restaurant wanted to give the customer the feel of a full-service restaurant, but at a price just slightly more than that of a fast food chain. To keep costs down, many of the restaurants had their own in-house meat cutters where they would cut their own steaks and grind their own hamburgers. Heading into the mid 1980s, competition began to appear from other casual-dining restaurants. After promotions such as all-you-can-eat fried shrimp, the chain decided to expand its popular salad bar into a full buffet promoted as the "Buffet Court." Patrons began to use the buffet as their meal instead of an add-on to an entree. In response, Sizzler began to lower the quality of food in other areas of the menu.[4] Customers took notice and Sizzler's reputation suffered. Sizzler filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996 ("primarily to void leases"), closed 140 of 215 stores and changed its logo.[5] The company reemerged from chapter 11 in 1997. During the late 1990s, new management upgraded the quality of food but also increased prices. Twenty one locations were closed in 2001. Sizzler began an image makeover around 2002. A new restaurant concept was created featuring a lighter and more open dining room. The changes were accompanied with a new menu. In an effort to return to its roots, steaks, seafood, and the salad bar are now being reemphasized while the all-you-can-eat buffet is being phased out.[4]

In the 1990s, Sizzler ran upscale locations with the Buffalo Ranch Steakhouse brand.[6][7][8]

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).[9]

In June 2011, it was announced that Sizzler USA, a USA management group led by the Sizzler CEO, would buy the chain from Pacific Equity Partners. The headquarters initially remained in Culver City, California where the chain was founded,[10] but moved to Mission Viejo, California in 2012.[11]

Sizzler has launched its "ZZ" food truck as a way to expand sales and market test new dishes.[12]

In 2015, a 1991 promotional video, which was produced to sell franchises and played at Sizzler's annual meeting surfaced and trended online due to its rather cheesy and dated style.[13]

International locations[edit]

Sizzler also has restaurants throughout the world including Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Thailand. These locations outside the United States are operated by Pacific Equity Partners.



Food safety[edit]

In 2000, over 60 people became ill and a young girl died in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that originated at a Sizzler restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Health officials said that the likely source of contamination was meat supplied by the Excel Corporation meat packer. They believe that cross contamination to other food items occurred when Sizzler employees handled the meat near areas where salad bar items were prepared.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16][17] The culprit turned out to be a woman described as being mentally unstable.[18]

Immigration raids[edit]

In June 2010, two Sizzler locations in Maricopa County, Arizona were raided by the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio under suspicion of having hired illegal immigrants. Nine arrests were made and the restaurant chain experienced negative publicity after allegedly hiring immigrants they knew were in the country illegally.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Sizzler Story". 1958-01-27. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  2. ^ "Sizzler USA Franchise, Inc. | http". // Retrieved 2012-06-22.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ - Our History
  4. ^ a b Norris,Maya (2006-09-01). "Cast in a New Light". Chain Leader. Retrieved 2007-01-01.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ "Sizzler Closes Outlets". 1996-06-04. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  6. ^ Jacobsen, Max (1993-04-15). "Upscale Buffalo Ranch Sizzzzzles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  7. ^ "Sizzler declares bankruptcy". Las Vegas Sun. 1996-06-03. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  8. ^ Young, David (1994-07-06). "Beef On The Comeback Trail". Chicago Tribune. 
  9. ^ Sizzler said to be considering trademark suit against lottery group Retrieved June 9, 2011
  10. ^ Sizzler sold to team led by CEO Retrieved June 9, 2011
  11. ^ Luna, Nancy (April 10, 2012). "Sizzler moves headquarters to Orange County". The Orange County Register. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ Marte, Jonnelle (July 20, 2012). "10 Things Food Trucks Won't Say". SmartMoney. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 
  13. ^ "This 1991 Video Proves Sizzler Was America's Most Patriotic Steakhouse". Huffington Post. 2015-04-15. 
  14. ^ Beef grinder close to salad prep area, official says Archived January 31, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Cross contamination caused outbreak". Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  16. ^ "Sizzler shuts salad bars over poison scare". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-03-01. 
  17. ^ Stevens, Craig (2006-02-28). "Media Statement" (PDF) (Press release). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06. 
  18. ^ "Sizzler Woman Too Sick for Court". Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 2006-03-02. ISSN 0312-6315. Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  19. ^ AP (13 June 2010). "Arizona immigration crackdown: Sizzler restaurants raided, 9 arrested". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 

External links[edit]