Steak And Ale Gets Second Life After Bankruptcy

A restaurant chain is only as strong as its links, or rather locations. A&W, the oldest franchise chain in the United States, has managed to stand the test of time since 1919 and has more than 1,000 locations, per the A&W website. McDonald's was founded in 1948 and boasts over 36,000 restaurants around the world, according to the company's website. Yet other chain restaurants don't endure. And as each location shutters its doors, that chain comes closer to fading from existence. That's what happened to the Texan chain Steak and Ale, which some have credited with creating casual dining, per Nation's Restaurant News. The chain debuted in 1966 and reached a peak of 280 locations by the 1980s before the numbers were whittled down by competition, according to By the time its parent company, Metromedia Restaurant Group formally announced Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2008, only 58 locations remained.

But sometimes the end isn't really the end. During the pandemic, for example, bakery and cafe chain Le Pain Quotidien shut down all 98 of its US locations (via Forbes). Soon after, however, a new owner stepped in to bring the chain back to life. Steak and Ale has been gone for longer, but it's about to make a comeback.

The old-school style of Steak and Ale with modern updates

When Steak and Ale went under in 2008, it was joined by many Bennigan's locations owned by the same parent company. Together they formed what Reuters described as one of the biggest bankruptcies in restaurant history. More than 14 years have passed, and it's about to open up shop again in Burnsville, a suburb of Minneapolis, as reported by Restaurant Business. Though there will be modern updates made to the chain, like serving craft beer and fusion food items, the comeback will be faithful to the original brand by retaining the logo, color scheme, and beloved salad bar. That also means visitors can expect the restaurant's familiar dim lighting and Tudor-inspired decor. There are also plans for more Bennigan's restaurants.

The next Steak and Ale spots have yet to be announced, but the managing property group Endeavor has exclusive rights to open locations in at least six states, including Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Texas was not named, however. Judging from a Steak and Ale Facebook group that's nearly 50,000 strong, some are disappointed that Texas isn't listed among possible locations while others are impatient to see the eatery's doors actually open. "So excited for this!!!....the one restaurant I have truly missed," wrote one user. Others wondered about classic dishes, including the marinated 8-ounce sirloin known as the Kensington Club and the Hawaiian chicken, which came with pineapple rings, rice pilaf, and broccoli (via Nation's Restaurant News). Time and the menu will tell.