Plano, TX (Restaurant News Release) Homestyle Dining LLC, which operates and franchises the Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse restaurant concepts, has announced the recipients of its annual franchise and brand support awards. The awards, which recognize excellence in operations on both the franchise and supplier level, were given at the company’s 2013 Franchise Conference in Nashville in October.
“This year’s winners represent what makes our brands so enduring and endearing with our loyal customers for the past five decades,” said Tom Sacco, President & CEO, Homestyle Dining LLC. “Each of these brand leaders embrace and fully understand that quality and service are our calling cards, and that innovation added into that mix will propel our growth during the next 50 years. We applaud their success and are grateful for their support and leadership.”
This year, Bonanza Steakhouse celebrates 50 years as one of America’s favorite, family-friendly restaurants. Sister-concept Ponderosa Steakhouse will celebrate its golden anniversary in 2015. Together the two iconic restaurant concepts include hundreds of units in the United States, as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, and Taiwan. In early 2014, Ponderosa Steakhouse will expand into Egypt with the first opening in suburban Cairo.
Under the stewardship of Sacco, the two concepts are undergoing a brand refresh, a concept makeover and a culinary revitalization. Beginning in 2014, both Bonanza and Ponderosa will offer expanded menu offerings on the food bar, as well as across their entrée line-up. A completely new menu board meets the changing needs of guests, who crave longtime favorites and who also want to explore updated, relevant food offerings, appetizers and even some healthier options.
Restaurant interiors are being updated to include brighter and fresher graphics, vibrant informational signage, a refurbished redesigned food bar area with new eco-friendly plate ware, and new vibrant colored uniforms reflecting the two brands’ focus on “Fresh, Quality, Flavors.”
According to Sacco, Homestyle Dining will be ramping up franchising efforts in 2014 to expand the two iconic brands in the United States and internationally focusing first on filling in current markets and but also looking to both single-unit and multi-unit franchisees to open in new markets.
The award winners include:
U.S. Franchise Operator of the Year: Franchisee Mike Everhart has been involved with Ponderosa Steakhouses for 20 years, growing from a cook to a General Manager and then purchasing his first location in Indiana in 1999. Today he owns three additional restaurants in Kentucky and Indiana. Everhart received the prestigious U.S. Franchise Operator of the Year award because of his exemplary operations, his enduring leadership and his involvement in the communities he serves. Everhart also serves as a Franchise Association Board Member and a member of the Operations Committee, and recently became an Area Developer in parts of Indiana.
International Franchise Operator of the Year: Wayne Chan, chairman of NOEC, has been honored as the International Franchise Operator of the Year. NOEC is the oldest franchisee outside the Western Hemisphere and the company recently celebrated Ponderosa’s 25th anniversary in Taiwan. Ponderosa was the first U.S. casual dining concept in Taiwan and today has six locations in the country with a seventh under construction. Chan attributes the long-term success of the brand in Taiwan to his strong management team, a focus on the basics of quality food and friendly service, and support from Homestyle Dining.
Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award: Franchisee Mitch Lazeren has spent the majority of his career – 46 years – with Bonanza Steakhouses. Starting out as an employee in 1967 in Connecticut, Lazeren opened his Bonanza in Marquette, Michigan in 1977. Mitch has been a committed member of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan community, supporting youth sports, activities and family events, winning the hearts and recognition of his neighbors along the way. Lazeren also serves as a member of the Franchise Association Board and as member of the Purchasing Committee.
Outstanding Community Service Award – Franchise: Ervin Campbell, who owns Ponderosa Steakhouses in Columbus, Athens, Jackson, South Point and Wheelersburg, Ohio, won the Outstanding Community Service Award for franchisees based on his demonstrated and outstanding devotion to his community. Among the organizations and efforts he has supported for many years includes: “Musicians Against Childhood Cancer,” the Early Learning Center, Kids Connect, plus key local resources such as the library, YMCA, schools and churches, first responders, parks, and veterans and military personnel.
Outstanding Community Service Award – Homestyle Dining LLC: Michelle Dillabough, the general manager of Ponderosa Steakhouse in Massena, New York, exemplifies the true community spirit behind Homestyle Dining. Michelle initiated a far-reaching community campaign to raise funds for the medical care of three local children who experienced life-threatening injuries when hit by a car at their school bus stop. Michelle engaged local school officials, teachers and students to pass out flyers, secured free ads in the local newspaper, collected donations at her restaurant, and organized a weekend fundraiser at her store. Her selfless efforts contributed to the eventual and lengthy recovery of all three children.
Supplier of the Year: PepsiCo, which has been Homestyle Dining’s beverage supplier since 2005, was awarded the Supplier of the Year award based on years of delivering beyond expectations. Recently PepsiCo’s Eric Harrison and Chrystal Gibbs were instrumental in making Homestyle Dining’s “Front Flip” smartphone initiative a resounding success by adding value, creativity and industry insight.
About Homestyle Dining LLC
Plano, Texas-based Homestyle Dining LLC owns, operates and franchises 223 family-focused restaurants throughout the United States and internationally under the Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse brands. Guests enjoy flame-grilled steaks and entrees along with a high-quality buffet featuring an endless selection of salads, soups, appetizers, vegetables, and desserts at affordable prices.