The last remaining Ponderosa Steakhouse in the Dayton area shut down on Sunday, Nov. 15, a spokeswoman for Ponderosa’s parent company confirmed.
Sunday’s closing of the restaurant at 602 Taywood Road in Englewood represents the end of an era: the steakhouse chain has nearly a half-century of ties to the Dayton area, which served as its headquarters during Ponderosa’s glory years of 1968 through 1994. Since then, however, the now-Plano, Texas-based chain survived multiple ownership changes and brushes with bankruptcy.
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The Englewood Ponderosa is a franchise-owned location, and the franchise owner “tried relentlessly to work with the (restaurant’s) landlord, but they could not come to terms to keep it open,” Ponderosa spokeswoman Erin Peacock said in an email to this news organization late Saturday night. “It will close on Sunday, and it is upsetting to everyone.”
Ponderosa officials also blamed a leasing dispute last year when the Ponderosa Steakhouse in the Airway Shopping Center in Riverside was abruptly shut down after more than 40 years in operation. The Englewood restaurant also had been in operation for more than four decades.
Peacock said the Ponderosa Steakhouse brand “is in the process of a revitalization effort, and we hope to come back to your market soon with this more modern version.”
Peacock did not say how many employees will be affected by the closure. A restaurant manager declined comment, referring questions to Peacock.
Ponderosa once operated at least a dozen restaurants across the region, employing about 1,000 in those restaurants alone. But more importantly, three years after its founding in Kokomo, Ind. in 1965, Ponderosa’s corporate headquarters moved to Dayton, and went public shortly thereafter.
By 1970, Dayton-based Ponderosa had grown to 100 restaurants and became a darling of Wall Street: in a two-year period in the early 1970s, its stock price climbed from $8.50 to $119.50 per share. In 1974, the company opened a new — and steak-shaped — headquarters at Dayton International Airport. And in 1975, it opened its 500th steakhouse, a remarkable five-fold growth in five years.
By 1989, it operated 736 restaurants worldwide, more than any other steakhouse chain. That same year, it merged with the second-largest steakhouse chain, Bonanza, which had 579 units.
In 1994, however, Ponderosa’s headquarters was moved to Dallas, Texas, costing this region 120 jobs.
The steakhouse chain’s corporate owners declared bankruptcy in 2008, but the chain emerged with the Ponderosa-Bonanza marriage intact, under the parent company Homestyle Dining LLC, based in Plano, Texas.
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