Ponderosa Steakhouse was one of the top places for families to eat in the 90s and early 2000s. Then it seemed like they all closed down. So, how many are left in Indiana?

Growing up in southern Indiana during the 90s, It seemed like my parents wanted to go out to eat at Ponderosa Steakhouse once a week. As a kid, I got tired of going there pretty fast. I'd much rather have gone to somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese. However, looking back as an adult. I totally understand why my parents always wanted to eat there. The buffet was great. There were so many options in terms of food and desserts. I can remember always loving their mac and cheese and chicken wings. Then, on top of the buffet, you could order some of the best steaks. I can still remember exactly how it looked, coming out on the black tray with the steel top that the steak and baked potato smelling like heaven. It's a place that I really miss going to, but it seems like there are no more locations in Indiana in 2023.

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Brief Ponderosa Steakhouse History

In case you didn't know, Ponderosa got its start right here in Indiana.  The first Ponderosa Steakhouse was established in 1968 in Kokomo, Indiana, by Dan Lasater and Norm Wiese. In the late 1980s, Ponderosa Steakhouse's parent company bought the rival steakhouse, Bonanza Steakhouse, and the two restaurants worked similarly to Rally's and Checkers. Two different restaurants that serve the same food. In 1989 there were 736 Ponderosa Steakhouses worldwide, more than any other steakhouse chain. Now, in 2023 there are a total of 21 locations left. So what happened?

Why did Ponderosa Steakhouse Close?

In 2008, Metromedia Restaurant group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to American Memory Lane. This led to the closure of several locations across the country. In, In 2017, the chain was sold again to FAT Brands, which the remaining restaurants are still owned by. Of course, the pandemic of 2020 forced several locations to close as well.

How Many Ponderosa Steakhouses are Still Open in Indiana?

Back in the day, we had a lot of Ponderosa locations here in Indiana. In southern Indiana, where I am from, I can remember locations in Newburgh, Princeton, Tell City, Washington, and Vincennes. In its heyday, there were well over 20 locations in Indiana.

In 2023, there is only one Ponderosa location remaining in Indiana. That location is one that I mentioned above. It's found in southern Indiana. The Vincennes location is the only Ponderosa location left in the state.

It's sad to see how this once thriving, and delicious restaurant has declined throughout the years in numbers. That being said, since 90s are really in style right now, maybe this is the time for a few locations to make a comeback. According to their website, you can still apply to open up a franchise Ponderosa or Bonanza Steakhouse. So, anyone willing to do that here in Indiana would be a hero in my book...and I know I am not alone in feeling that way!

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