|Founded||1958Culver City, California, as Del's Sizzler Family Steak Housein|
|Founders||Del and Helen Johnson|
|Headquarters||Mission Viejo, California, U.S.|
Number of locations
|James A. Collins, CEO (1967–1999)|
|Products||Steak, seafood, salads|
Sizzler USA Restaurants, Inc., doing business as Sizzler, is a United States-based 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. There are also locations in Puerto Rico. 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 and are no longer related to the American firm.
In September 2020, Sizzler USA, filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic hurting sales. The bankruptcy filing does not affect the similarly named Collins Foods affiliated restaurants that are located outside of the United States.
The chain was founded in 1958 as Sizzler Family Steak House by Del and Helen Johnson in Culver City, California. The chain is composed of more than 270 locations throughout the U.S. Most of Sizzler's U.S. locations are in the West.
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. Sizzler also introduced a free grilled cheese bread roll at the start of the experience which was intended to line the stomach, curbing appetite. 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. 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, Sizzler emphasized steaks, seafood, and the salad bar. While the all-you-can-eat buffet was phased out in some locations, it remained in many others.
Sizzler was sold to Pacific Equity Partners, an Australian-based investment firm, in 2005. 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).
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. The headquarters initially remained in Culver City, California, where the chain was founded, but moved to Mission Viejo, California, in 2012.
Sizzler has launched its "ZZ" food truck to expand sales and test market new dishes.
In September 2020, Sizzler USA announced that they had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing impacts of COVID-19, namely forcing it to temporarily close its restaurants' dining rooms. The company also cited problems paying rent. Most of the company-owned restaurants are located in highly COVID-19 infected areas of California that did not permit restaurants even partially to open dining rooms as recently as September 2020.
Sizzler also has restaurants throughout the world, including those in Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, 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.
The Australian Sizzlers were reasonably popular from the 1980s 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.
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.
Collins Foods closed all of its remaining Sizzler restaurants in Australia by November 15, 2020. Collins Foods said of the three restaurant brands that it operates, Sizzler had been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Collins had closed all company-owned restaurants in 2020, Collins continues to license the use of the Sizzler restaurant brand for use in Thailand and Japan.
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. 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. This ultimately led to Sizzler closing the chain's remaining Midwest locations, including those in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.
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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
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