Mar 2, 2022

Bonanza Rides Off Into The Sunset

Bonanza Steakhouse
574 Susquehanna Blvd - Hazleton, PA
After nearly three decades, the Bonanza Steakhouse across the street from the Laurel Mall in Hazleton has closed its doors as of November 2021.

June 2019 (TripAdvisor)
February 27, 2022

The restaurant is still pretty similar to the way that it looked when it was still in operation.  There are no banners advertising the specials, and they have removed the outdoor benches and the name of the restaurant from the awning and above the front door, but the highway sign is still on the pole, and the letter board presently has a message thanking the community for 27 years of patronage.

June 2019 (TripAdvisor)
October 2019 (TripAdvisor)

There was a time when this was one of my favorite places to eat.  This is mostly because of the Endless Steak promotion that they ran from time to time.  I think it was only $7.99 back when I graduated from high school.  The waiters and waitresses were probably supposed to bring you one at a time, but when I ate here, they brought me as many as three steaks at once.  I didn't even ask them to - they offered and I was glad to accept.  They were kind of small steaks, and I'm sure they weren't Gordon Ramsay quality, but they were perfect for this 18 year old boy.

This was where I was headed back in the summer of 1999 when a pick up truck ran a red light doing about 80 miles a hour and t-boned into the passenger side of my car (no steak pun intended).  I was on my way across Rt. 924 to pick up my girlfriend at the time for a dinner and movie date.  It's a good thing that the truck hit me before I picked her up, or else there's a pretty good chance that there would have been a fatality.  I had stitches in the right hand side of my head from what was left of the passenger door.  I still remember that when I regained consciousness on the side of the road, there was a parametric who was holding my neck in place.  I looked up at him and said "damn, I guess this means I'm going to miss out on all-you-can-eat steak at Bonanza".  The hospital food wasn't nearly as good.

January 2018 (TripAdvisor)

I'm not sure if every Bonanza has them, but ours had a pretty decent sized all-you-can-eat buffet.  It was a couple bucks to add to any dinner, but there was so many different things to eat that it was worth going to if you just ordered the buffet by itself without an entree.  Sometimes it was very good, but it went steadily downhill when I was in my 20's.  I'm not at all a difficult person to please with food, but there were times that I ate here where the food on the buffet was literally frozen in the middle.  That's no hyperbole - I mean that the middle of the food was a chunk of ice.  Not little ice chips, mind you.  I mean a fist-sized slab of frozen food.

I understand that chain restaurants keep things like carrots and mashed potatoes in a deep freezer before prepping them.  That's fine - it's how businesses like this operate and keep costs down.  However, when I dish out food that is literally frozen solid in the center, it means that whoever was responsible for prepping it hadn't even stirred it when it came out of the oven, let alone kept an honest temperature log for food safety.  Anybody can make a mistake, so I could have overlooked this if it happened once, but I had this experience three different times.  Maybe they turned things around at some point, but I stopped going there at least fifteen years ago.

Despite the unpleasant experiences, I'm still a little bummed out to see the place close.  From what I read, it didn't go out of business - it closed because the owner has retired.  With the way that the pandemic has impacted the restaurant business, I can understand why this might be a good time to call it a career.  With any luck, they'll find a buyer pretty quickly and we'll have a new restaurant open up at this location.