Long Live the Buffet! Inside an Abandoned Ponderosa Steakhouse in Syracuse
WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.
Remember Ponderosa? It was nearly impossible to leave hungry.
Famous for their all-you-can-eat salad bar, DIY ice cream station and tough-as-shoeleather steaks, there was arguably no better way to feed the family on a budget than Ponderosa.
You'd be hard-pressed to find someone over 30 in New York who hasn't eaten at a Ponderosa. They were such an integral part of the commercial landscape. At the turn of the century, however, it seemed like Ponderosas started to disappear. So what happened?
IT WAS INSPIRED BY A TV SHOW
Bonanza was an American Western TV series that ran for 14 seasons between1959 to 1973. One of the first TV shows to broadcast in color, Bonanza was immensely popular during its time.
Dan Blocker, the actor who played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright, decided to capitalize on his show's popularity by opening a Bonanza-themed restaurant. The first Bonanza Sirloin Pit opened in Westport, Connecticut in 1963 and proved successful, with additional locations added over time.
A rival Bonanza-themed restaurant (yes, that's real) opened a few years later, titled Ponderosa Steakhouse, after Bonanza's fictional "Ponderosa Ranch" setting. The two chains competed fiercely with each other during the '70s and '80s. By 1989 there were over 600 locations of both across the United States-- either a Bonanza or a Ponderosa, depending on where you were. In 1997 a deal was struck to merge the two.
The restaurant's popularity waned over time, with hundreds being closed by the late 2000s. They still technically exist. According to their website, there are just 21 locations currently in operation, mostly in the Midwest.
Check out the gallery below of an abandoned Ponderosa Steakhouse in North Syracuse: