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Ponderosa abruptly closes Riverside steakhouse

By Mark Fisher - Staff Writer

The Ponderosa steakhouse at 4918 Airway Road, which opened 40 years ago this month in an outlot of the Airway Shopping Center, closed abruptly on Monday.

Erin Peacock, a spokeswoman for the steakhouse chain, said Monday that Ponderosa officials “couldn’t come to the right terms on a lease” with the restaurant’s landlord.

Employees of the steakhouse are being offered positions at the lone remaining Dayton-area Ponderosa at 602 Taywood Road in Englewood, the steakhouse chain’s spokeswoman said. She did not know how many employees were affected.

“There are no plans to close” the Englewood store, Peacock said.

Riverside City Manager Bryan Chodkowski said he had heard the restaurant was in danger of closing. “It’s a shame,” Chodkowski said. “But we will look at this as an opportunity.”

The Ponderosa Steakhouse chain once called Dayton its home. The Plano, Texas-based chain has survived multiple ownership changes and brushes with bankruptcy over its 49 years.

In 1974, the steakhouse chain opened a new steak-shaped corporate headquarters near Dayton International Airport, just two years after the company became a Wall Street darling when its stock price jumped from $8.50 to $119.50 per share. By 1989, it operated 736 restaurants worldwide, more than any other steakhouse chain, and that same year, it merged with the Bonanza steakhouse chain, which had 579 units.

The Ponderosa-Bonanza marriage remained intact after bankruptcy proceedings in 2008, under the parent company Homestyle Dining LLC. The number of units in the combined company has shrunk to just about 220.

Last November, Homestyle unveiled plans for a “brand refresh and culinary revitalization” for both steakhouse chains that included a new line of flavored steaks and new “Light ‘N Healthy” menu items.

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