On the heels of its 50th anniversary in 2013, the Bonanza Steakhouse restaurant brand has entered a new era as Bonanza Steak & BBQ.
This modern, casual-dining concept celebrates Bonanza’s American steakhouse heritage and modernizes it with an updated menu including new authentic, Southern-style barbecue offerings, an interior redesign around a butcher house theme, and full-service dining.
Parent company Homestyle Dining LLC of Plano, Texas, will open the first Bonanza Steak & BBQ in Eureka, Missouri, by the end of 2014 with plans to franchise 100 locations during the next five years.
In late 2013, Homestyle Dining CEO Tom Sacco announced plans to revitalize both the Bonanza and Ponderosa Steakhouse brands with a focus on updated menus and interiors that would appeal to the evolving tastes of today’s more modern diner.
Since then, 25 percent of the 150 Ponderosa Steakhouse restaurants in the United States have been updated with expanded menu offerings on the food bar and across the entire entrée line-up, with interiors that have been brightened with a new color scheme, lighting, graphics, menu boards, and food bar design. Guests are responding favorably to the brand refresh with upgraded restaurants showing a double-digit increase in sales and guest count.
Homestyle Dining, however, opted for a more comprehensive transformation of the Bonanza Steakhouse brand, conceiving the Bonanza Steak & BBQ concept as a way to preserve Bonanza’s rich steakhouse legacy while updating it to appeal to a younger demographic. The menu was overhauled to feature familiar American fare with innovative culinary enhancements, regionalized offerings, and a selection of savory barbecue items, slow-cooked in on-site smokers.
“With Bonanza Steak & BBQ, we’ve literally put a stake in the ground advancing what the guest should expect from the contemporary American steakhouse landscape,” says Tom Sacco, CEO, Homestyle Dining. “We’ve created a restaurant brand that multiple generations can love, built around steaks and entrees with surprising, yet familiar, flavors, and slow-cooked, authentic, mouthwatering barbecue options. At Bonanza Steak & BBQ, we have combined the elevated food quality and attentive service of yesteryear with the more relevant menu options of today at a value not found in other steakhouse concepts.”
Steaks Still at the Heart of the Menu; BBQ a Fresh New Option
At the heart of Bonanza Steak & BBQ’s menu are a selection of USDA Choice steaks and authentic barbecue fare and a farm-fresh salad bar that replaces the hot and cold buffets found in the Bonanza Steakhouses. The salad bar at Bonanza Steak & BBQ is included at no charge with dinner entrées.
Steak selections include 6-ounce or 10-ounce Center Cut Sirloins, an 8-ounce Flat Iron, a 16-ounce Porter House, a 12-ounce Ribeye, a 6-ounce Filet, with a Certified Black Angus Chopped Steak and a humungous Country Fried Steak rounding out the options. Bonanza Steak & BBQ also offers the option of topping each steak entrée with Roasted Mushrooms, Blue Cheese Crust or Creamy Creole Shrimp.
With barbecue, an American palate favorite among both older and younger guests, Bonanza Steak & BBQ will offer a variety of offerings rooted in the flavors found in Kansas City, Memphis, and the Carolinas. Slowed cook on-site for at least eight hours, offerings include Baby Back and St. Louis Style Ribs, a Smokehouse Brisket Platter, and Pulled Pork.
Other regional and familiar menu items served with a culinary twist are Beer Can Chicken, a signature, flavorful Chicken Monterey, and a tangy Smokehouse Chicken with corn salsa and frizzled onions. Selections from the sea include a Citrus Lime Salmon, Hand-Breaded Haddock, Butter Garlic Shrimp, and Cajun-seasoned New Orleans style Salmon, plus a Creamy Creole Shrimp.
At Bonanza Steak & BBQ, the half-pound Certified Black Angus beef burgers are cooked to order, served on a soft Brioche roll with a choice of St. Louis’ own Provel Cheese or Great Midwest Cheddar. Burgers include the Knife and Fork Brisket Chile Cheese Burger, the Smoke House Burger with tangy barbecue sauce and frizzled onion straws, or the Bacon Blue Burger crusted in Blue Cheese and topped with crisp bacon.
A Turkey Burger with an herb spread and spring greens is also offered. Sandwiches feature BBQ Chicken Club, Sirloin Steak, Beer Can Chicken, and Pulled Pork selections, plus a half-pound, Certified Black Angus beef, Bacon Wrapped dog topped with chopped brisket and whole grain mustard.
Guests will also enjoy appetizers ranging from sweet and spicy Candied Bacon and chile-glazed Crispy Baby Back Ribs to flavorful Pulled Pork stuffed Enchilada Peppers and a new twist on Bruschetta, with a Bruschetta Flatbread topped with barbecue brisket, ripe tomato, Provel cheese, and spicy barbecue sauce.
Sides also showcase the best of American fare with Great Midwest Cheddar & St. Louis Provel Mac ‘N Cheese, Rock Candy Crusted Sweet Potato, Sea Salt Crusted Baked Potato, Smokehouse Corn on the Cob, and Jasmine Rice Medley.
Desserts at Bonanza Steak & BBQ include American favorites such as Crispy Bread Pudding Bites, Chocolate Overload Brownie, Tiramisu Cheesecake, Apple Crisp, and St. Louis’ Original Gooey Butter Cake. The new Bonanza will also serve local beers and wines.
Interiors Become More Relevant, Showcasing America’s Love of Steak
“The old Bonanza Steakhouse designs were at one time very representative of the spirit of America and American family dining,” Sacco says. “We didn’t want to lose that appeal, but knew that we needed to update our design elements to appeal to a changing demographic with more modern elements that emphasized our refreshed menu.”
Homestyle Dining replaced elements that were no longer relevant such as those relating to the "Bonanza" TV show and the Old West, but kept others that accentuated the concept’s enduring legacy. New wall treatments, graphics, lighting, and signage reflect a “Butcher House” aesthetic, while old Bonanza signs speak to the legacy of one of America’s oldest steakhouse brands. “America has always had a love affair with steak, and our new interiors highlight that appetite for hearty meals with great service at a reasonable price.”