4 Once-Popular Steakhouse Chains That Are Now Shrinking Eat This, Not That


Steakhouses are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. As catering company reported in late 2021, the restaurant industry’s steak segment is “currently gaining restaurant recovery”, with high-end and mid-range brands topping 2019 sales. Sales of high-end chains like Fleming and Ruth’s Chris are standingand casual dining brands like LongHorn and Texas Roadhouse are also hugely successful.

The reason will come as no surprise: pent-up customer demand. With the return of on-site dining, steak chains are a popular choice among consumers looking to celebrate and splurge a little.

But while the steak segment is thriving as a whole, not all steakhouses are poised for long-term success. Here’s a look at four channels currently struggling with shrinking footprints and a general decline in popularity.

For more, check out 4 Great Burger Chains Falling Out of Favor with Customers.

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Ponderosa and Bonanza are historic brands with a long history. They’ve been around since the 1960s. surviving a chapter 11 bankruptcy and passed into the hands of several parent companies during their lifetime. Currently they belong to FAT brands—a natural fit among the holding company’s other casual chains.

But as popular as PonBon is, that doesn’t change the fact that the channel’s sales have been declining in recent years. Add to that a rapidly declining number of restaurants and the brands seem to be losing favor with customers. Prior to their acquisition by FAT Brands, sales steadily declined between 2015 and 2017. Since then, the parent company has pretty much consolidated PonBon to death, reducing its store count from 76 units in 2017 to only 23 in operation today.

logan roadside restaurant

It’s been an uphill battle for the past six years for Logan’s Roadhouse. The Texas-based chain went bankrupt at the end of 2016, in part due to declining sales and customer traffic. Debt reorganization followed shortly after, with Logan’s promising a menu overhaul and a new marketing campaign. But sales lagged for the next three years, with declines reported in 2017, 2018and 2019. Additionally, the channel’s footprint has shrunk by approximately half over the past seven years, from 256 in 2015has a current minimum of 137.

Logan’s parent company, CraftWorks imploded early 2020, temporarily closing all Logan’s Roadhouse locations. However, the channel is currently under new management and is trying to reinvent themselves. It recently saw sales grow 35% from 2020 and 20% from 2019, benefiting from the current popularity of the steakhouse segment.

sizzling steakhouse
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The California Steakhouse got its start in the 1950s, and had initial success as a mid-rip steak chain, offering “steak you can’t afford to miss”. In the 1980s, competition from casual dining chains like Outback and Red Lobster hampered Sizzler’s business, and its pivot to buffet dining in the 1990s collapsed and caused the company to go bankrupt. ‘business. filing for bankruptcy in 1996.

Sizzler sales were already down before the pandemic, with losses reported in both 2018 and 2019. A 63% drop in sales in 2020 pushed the company into another bankruptcyand its footprint reduced to one only 100 units– below 130 in 2018.

lone star steakhouse storefront
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The Texas-based chain was founded in the late 1980s and grew rapidly in the 1990s, thanks to its popular mesquite grilled steaks and Texas-themed decor. Lone Star went public about three years after its founding and cracked the top six of Fortune’s 100 fastest growing companies in 1994.

But the past two decades and change have not been kind to Lone Star. Due to increasing competition and operating costs, sales slowed in the late 1990s, and the the value of the chain’s shares has fallen sharply— from $46 per share in 1996 to just $6 per share in 1998. Lone Star had approximately 265 restaurants in 1999. Today the chain is reduced to a single location in Tamuning, Guam.


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