Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse - History


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

In 1965, Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese and Charles Kleptz founded Ponderosa in Kokomo, Indiana. Norm Wiese was a local auto dealer for Oldsmobile and GMC Trucks. Ponderosa began operations to Canada in 1977, 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 later converted them to Red Lobster restaurants. 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.

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 in business as usual. Bob Hoffman, company President, emphasized that the filing will have a positive long-term impact on the Company's domestic and international operations.

In October 2009, the company emerged from bankruptcy under the name Homestyle Dining LLC. In 2012, Homestyle Dining LLC launched redesigned Ponderosa and Bonanza websites. As of November 2012, the updated Bonanza store locator indicates that there are 21 Bonanza locations in the United States.

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