Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse

Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse are a chain of buffet/steakhouse restaurants. They are two of the most franchised subsidiaries of Metromedia Restaurant Group.

Unlike other chains with two names like Checkers/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 Metromedia - so the names overlap depending on who had restaurants where prior to merger.

The names of the restaurants are derived from the classic TV series Bonanza, which was set at a place called Ponderosa Ranch. The Bonanza chain was started in 1963 by Dan Blocker, who played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright on Bonanza.


In 1968, Ponderosa was founded in Kokomo, Indiana by Dan Lasater and Norm Wiese. Norm Wiese was a local auto dealer for Oldsmobile and GMC Trucks.

In 1967, Sam Wyly and his brother Charles Wyly bought the small Bonanza Steakhouse restaurant chain. The company grew to approximately 600 restaurants by 1989,, when the two brothers sold it.

In late July 2008, the S&A Restaurant Group, a subsidiary of the Metromedia Restaurant Group, 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 the Bonanza and Ponderosa Steakhouse chains, which are owned by a different subsidiary, Metromedia Steakhouses Co. LP. Metromedia Restaurant Group also shut down the www.PONDEROSASTEAKHOUSES.com website along with www.BONANZASTEAKHOUSES.com. This could be a result of the sites having to be configured to remove much of the content that relates to the prior parent company etc. A franchise in Rutland VT(USA) was contacted on Thursday, August 7, 2008 and explained that they are still in business as usual and only the other two resturant concepts are affected and even those will be bought out by franchisees. They are unsure when the Pondarosa and Bonanza websites will return online at this time as it was under the control of Metromedia Restaurant Group.

As of September 2008, Fred Boukzam, 49, of Brooklyn, and his restaurant company, PON Management, owned and operated 15 Ponderosa restaurants in Northeastern Ohio which 9 of them have closed following a federal lawsuit involving what authorities said is one of the largest "check-kiting'' schemes ever prosecuted in Northeastern Ohio. Boukzam and PON Management were charged with one count of felony bank fraud stemming from the scheme.


Patrons have several options to choose from, including steaks, seafood, and chicken entrees. Occasionally, the company will run special promotions, such as "All you can eat shrimp". All entrees come with the buffet, as well as choice of potato, or you can choose to have an entree without the buffet at a cheaper price.

A lunch menu is also served. While patrons can choose a dinner entree at any time, the lunch menu also includes sandwiches, as well as specially-priced lunch portions of the dinner entrees. The sandwiches typically only come with choice of potato; entrees are served with the buffet.

The chain features Pepsi products and also have a proprietary recipe of steak sauce.


Buffets at the restaurants are typically divided into four different sections:

  • Salad bar: Contains fruits, several premade salads, as well as an array of ingredients with which patrons can build their own salad.
  • Hot food bar: Has a variety of side dishes such as green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rice pilaf, as well as several entree items not included on the menu, such as fried chicken and meatloaf.
  • Soup bar: Each restaurant offers several different soups to choose from, along with an assortment of crackers.
  • Dessert bar: The dessert bar features all you can eat soft-serve ice cream with appropriate toppings, as well as desserts such as apple crisp and bread pudding.

Prior to the mid-1990s, restaurants did not have the hot food bar; instead using a long salad bar referred to as "Freshtastiks".


Although selections may vary from location to location, the following items are standard fare at every Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouse


  • 4oz. New York Strip Steak
  • 10oz. Marinara Meatballs
  • Granny's Country Chicken
  • 4oz. Steak Surprise
  • Jr. Steakhouse Burger (children's menu)


  • Baked Potatoes

Dessert Items

  • Pecan Pie
  • Cheesecake
  • Carrot cake
  • Jello


  • Iced Tea
  • Coffee
  • Hot Chocolate (seasonal)
  • Pepsi
  • 7-Up
  • Orange Crush
  • Mug Root Beer
  • Milk


Outside of the United States:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Canada
    • Saskatchewan
    • New Brunswick - licensed to Coady-Ac Enterprises Ltd
    • Nova Scotia - licensed to Coady-Ac Enterprises Ltd (Closed 2007)
    • Newfoundland - licensed to Coady-Ac Enterprises Ltd (Closed 2007)
    • Ontario
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Taiwan
  • UAE


External links

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