"On this land we put our brand, Cartwright is the name, fortune smiled the day we filed the Ponderosa claim." This was one of the famous catchphrases of the popular Western television show Bonanza, which ran from 1959 to 1973. The television show inspired a variety of merchandise; everything from Jim Beam Whiskey Ponderosa Ranch decanters to a Ponderosa Theme Park in Lake Tahoe, and most notably a chain of Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses founded in 1965. While there are only a few left to visit, the legacy of the Bonanza Steakhouse chain will always be a big part of America's history.
Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse: A Restaurant of Two Names
Back in 1963 Dan Blocker, who played Eric Cartright on Bonanza, opened up the first Bonanza restaurant in Westport, Connecticut. By 1989 the restaurant chain had over 600 restaurants located across the United States, serving up top sirloin and ribeye steaks for hungry customers.
At the same time in 1965, Dan Lasater, Norm Wiese, and Charles Kleptz founded the Ponderosa Steakhouse, opening restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
The two restaurants were separate entities up until 1997 when they were both bought by parent company Metromedia Family Steakhouses. In 2008 the company filed for bankruptcy and in 2009, emerged from bankruptcy with a new name, Homestyle Dining LLC.
Some of the last Bonanza Steakhouses are located in hidden corners of the Midwest and East Coast, including locations in Presque Isle, Maine, New Columbia, Pennsylvania, Lebanon, Virginia, and St. Cloud, Minnesota. There are also a few of them in Puerto Rico.
Step into one of the still-standing steakhouses and you'll instantly be transported in time. The steakhouse still offers an all-you-can-eat salad bar in a casual dining setting. Saddle up your horse and make your way to Bonanza Steakhouse before it gets put to the pasture for good.
This article was originally published on Aug 16, 2019.