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The Lost Steakhouses of Carrollton


Yesterday’s Food And Retail by Grady Ellis (Editorial)

Yesterday’s Food and Retail by Carrollton resident Grady Ellis is an editorial series brought to you by The City Menus, LLC. The following piece is unedited and in its original state. In no way does it reflect the views or opinions of The City Menus, LLC or its additional contributors.

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When one goes for steak these days in Carrollton, the only option available chain-wise is Longhorn Steakhouse; however local steakhouse Samba Loca also has incredible steaks. Once upon a time, we had a variety of choices when it came to steakhouses, and their names are legendary in the mind of locals due to their variety of selections now called buffets. Let’s take a look at four places we had in Carrollton that’s no longer with us, and reflect on their success, and why they left Carrollton.

We’ll start in the early 1970s and in this time; Carrollton had started its boom, which was in spurts with Maple Street and the new “four lane” now known as South Park Street being the hot spots for each respectively. The first steakhouse to appear in town would be Bonanza. Bonanza was founded in 1963 by Dan Blocker, who played “Hoss” on the iconic western that aired on NBC from 1958-1973. He’d sell the chain in the late 1960s and the chain would begin to expand throughout the United States, arriving in Carrollton by the mid 1970s, the first steakhouse chain to arrive in town. For a short time they had the South Park area covered. When the late 1970s rolled in, another Steakhouse would arrive in 1979, when Western Sizzlin would open at Lake Carroll Mall. And as for Bonanza, a new steakhouse was arriving on the corner of South Park St and Clinic Avenue, Western Steer Family Steakhouse.

Now as we get into the 1980s, Western Sizzlin was the top dog on the Bankhead side of town, known for their Flamekist steaks, and over on South Park Street; Western Steer quickly became a top draw and hugely popular. Western Steer was located in a great spot, and in effect hurt its rival down the street, Bonanza. As the 1980s progressed, Western Steer and Western Sizzlin would be huge hits for locals and by the late 1980s, Bonanza would close their doors; as the chain began to retreat and close throughout the United States. Bonanza would become Thomas’ Cafeteria for a time and another restaurant before being demolished in 2015 for Cookout.

The 1990s had Western Steer and Western Sizzlin as the top two steakhouses in town. By 1995, a new name arrived on Bankhead Highway that would be to Western Sizzlin, what Western Steer was to Bonanza. Ryan’s opened in 1995 and it was a rousing success for many years. Its impact was immediate on Western Sizzlin, and just a few short years after Ryan’s arrival, Western Sizzlin would leave Carrollton. Meanwhile Western Steer was still hot based from its location, and popularity with many people and by the mid 1990s, would become known as Trailmaster Steakhouse. They held their own against Ryan’s, and the Western Sizzlin would become a number of restaurants, today the location of M&J’s Home Cooking.

As the 21st Century arrived, Trailmaster and Ryan’s were the two steakhouses in town. By 2003, the number would go down to one. After a successful run for over 20 years, Trailmaster would close and become home to Walgreen’s. Ryan’s would be the last man standing in regards to the steakhouses when it came to where you could get steak, or anything from their buffets. As the 2010’s came, Ryan’s would find themselves on hard times and locations began to close. In 2015, our location would also close, ending a long run for the Steakhouses in Carrollton. Of course we have Longhorn, but an era ended.

Today only one of these steakhouses of yesterday still stands. The former Western Sizzlin is popular as M&J’s. Most locals have longed for Golden Corral to come to Carrollton, and who knows? As we reach the holidays, places like Western Sizzlin, Western Steer were popular gathering places for families to gather and fellowship during the holidays. We may have Longhorn, and Samba Loca; a wonderful local restaurant that’s a major player in steaks; but people still miss the family steakhouses that was once in abundance, but now a memory.

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I love retail history with an undying passion. Born and raised in West Georgia. I love to be with my family, and my sweet English Toy Terrier, Sadie. All my work I post is always in the loving memories of my Mom, Dad, and my Grandparents, and loved ones that inspired me to follow this rich history. And most of all, I want to give the glory to the Lord, for giving me the ability to write, and tell these stories for the future generations to come.