7 extinct steakhouse chains you will never eat at again
There was always a place to get meat and potatoes at the mall.
Steak and potatoes. Is there a more American meal? It's no wonder that dozens of restaurant chains have centered around sirloin and spuds. In the 1960s and 1970s, low-price steakhouses peppered the growing suburban landscape. Brands like Sizzler and Western Sizzlin' — it was always about the thrill of the sizzle — raised their glowing signs along the highway.
One of those brands, which still survives today, was even based off a MeTV series. Dan Blocker of Bonanza, Hoss himself, started the Ponderosa and Bonanza steakhouse chains. It was not a coincidence that the heyday of the steakhouse chain coincided with the peak of the Westerns on television.
Let's take a look at some of those meat eateries from the past. Perhaps you went to some of these with your family.
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1. Hillstop Steakhouse
The New England chain had a couple claims to fame. First was its Vegas-like exteriors, which featured giant neon cacti and plastic cows "grazing" out front on the lawn. In 1981, pranksters at MIT took one of those fake cows and placed it atop the Great Dome on campus.
Image: openroadscom / Flickr
2. Mr. Steak
With its cartoon steer mascot and friendly environment, Mr. Steak aimed to please the entire family. At its peak, the chain operated nearly 300 locations across the country.
Originally, this Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern chain was owned and operated by the Gino's fast-food company. In the early 1980s, Gino's sold its Rustler Steak Houses to Marriot, who in turn flipped it. Eventually, the remaining locations turned into Sizzlers.
4. Steak and Ale
Norman E. Brinker was a restaurant visionary. He dreamt up the notion of a salad bar, and helped turn joints like Benningan's into casual-dining behemoths. He also founded Steak and Ale, a pioneer of the strip-mall steakhouse, in 1966. The chain made it up through the last decade, dying around the same time as Brinker. However, it is rumored to make a comeback in 2017.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Sancya
5. Valle's Steak House
The East Coast steak-and-lobster chain put the pedal to the metal in the 1970s, greatly expanding its locations. Unfortunately, there was a gas and ecomic crisis, which cut into most people's casual dining dollar. Valle's was known for its sprawling dining rooms, which became hard to fill. Still, the brand managed to stick around until the turn of the millennium.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
6. York Steakhouse
Cereal giant General Mills owned this national chain, which was a regular sight at shopping malls. There was one fascinating policy at York: no tipping allowed. If you truly miss it, one single location has managed to hang around in Columbus, Ohio.
Image: fanofretail / Flickr
7. Beefsteak Charlie's
"You're gonna get spoiled!" the wait staff sang in 1970s commercials for this retro-styled restaurant. That's "Beefsteak Charlie" himself in this clip, serenading a happy child who is stuffing his face with the all-you-can-eat shrimp.
Image: commercialclassic / YouTube
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Now, what about the "fast line steak houses" -- Like Bonanza (yes, it was a restaurant) and/or Ponderosa?