Ponderosa hits the trail for the final time
MONCTONâ€”Ponderosa has taken its last ride on the restaurant landscape with the closing of the only remaining Canadian location.
At one time, there were 150 western-themed Ponderosa restaurants in Canada, a chain famous for its all-you-can-eat salad bar.
Colin Coady, owner of the Moncton location, outlasted all the rest, as the restaurant continued to be popular in the New Brunswick city, with a regular clientele of families and seniors.
At one time, Colinâ€™s brother owned six Ponderosas, but one by one, they were closed down. Coady purchased the Moncton location and continued to a make a go of it, but declining sales slowly ate away at the restaurantâ€™s profits.
The 35-year-old restaurant shut down in November, leaving 40 full and part time staff without jobs. Coady said one staff member had worked at the restaurant for 10,035 days.
â€śWe thought we did a good job at it but it was not enough. Weâ€™re walking away feeling good, but weâ€™re sad not distraught. We gave it a good shot,â€ť Coady said.
He pointed to a change to healthier eating habits, increased competition from other steak and buffet restaurants in Moncton, minimum wage increases and reduced buying power as reasons for the closure.
Coady tried to keep it going by reducing the price of the entrĂ©es and expanding the salad bar, but sales continued to drop.
â€śThe old Ponderosa concept was not cutting it. We had young familes to the elderly, but what we did not have is 24â€“40 year old singles. It was a fun place for kids to come.â€ť
The Moncton location did not serve alcohol, something Coady said was not worth the trouble of going through the process and â€ścontroversyâ€ť of applying for a permit.
When Coady brought the staff in to tell them the news of the closure, he said it was the hardest thing heâ€™s ever had to do in his 40 years in the foodservice business.
â€śThings like that tug at the heart. I had a wonderful staff.â€ť
Ponderosa still operates in the United States.