After 45 years, Bonanza Steakhouse in Tupelo is winding down.
Owner John Mason confirmed that the building is under contract to be sold to Dollar General Corp., which has filed plans to build a store on the property on 550 N. Gloster St. in Tupelo.
“It’s not a done deal, but it’s all but finished,” said Mason, who opened the restaurant in 1973. “We’ve been working on it since about January, and they’ll have to tear the building down.”
Plans have been filed with the city’s planning department by Dollar General, which estimates construction cost of around $900,000.
Mason owned as many as a dozen Bonanza locations at one time, and had closed all but this one. The brand has gone through ownership changes and even a bankruptcy through the years, and the few remaining Bonanzas were left to pretty much run on their own.
There are 10 Bonanza Steakhouses remaining in the U.S., with another five in Puerto Rico. The company at its peak had some 600 locations nationwide.
Said Mason in a 2016 interview, “We still pay our royalty check every month; in fact, we’ve never missed a payment; we’ve never not paid a bill. I’m pretty proud of that.”
But he admits the concept has gotten old, and diners’ tastes and habits have chjanged.
“It’s time to go,” he said. “It really is bittersweet. This has been a great store for us.”
Employees have been told of the impending closure, but Mason said most have taken it well and have remained on the job. There’s no timeline as to when the restaurant will close and when Dollar General will take over the site.
“It’s going to be business as usual until we hear otherwise,” Mason said.