Goodbye Bonanza

It’s with great sadness that I heard Bonanza was to close this past Sunday, January 26th. A lot of people clearly shared my sadness since the restaurant was so busy on Saturday that it had to close a day early because the staff feared they’d run out of food.

Mitch Lazaren, Ed Gudewicz, and all the Bonanza staff did a fine job for 37 years and Marquette just won’t be the same without being able to go there on a Saturday night to fill up on salad, steak, and chili.

In the restaurant and staff’s honor, I am reposting the chapter in My Marquette about Bonanza:

Grandpa and Grandma were regulars at Bonanza, which ensured that Chad and John got extra suckers with their little wrangler meals. They all overstuffed their stomachs with steak, chili con carne, salad, french fries, and ice cream.

— Superior Heritage

When Bonanza opened in 1977, it was one of those new restaurants, springing up along U.S. 41 leading out of town and actually in Marquette Township, but today, it is a mainstay as one of Marquette’s longest operating restaurants.

After 37 years, Marquette says goodbye to its favorite family restaurant.

After 37 years, Marquette says goodbye to its favorite family restaurant.

Soon after it opened, my mom and grandma went there for lunch. At that time, Grandma thought Grandpa wouldn’t like it because it wasn’t a “sit down and be waited on” kind of restaurant. Boy, was she wrong!

Grandpa loved Bonanza. Soon my grandparents were going there for supper at least twice a week. They became good friends with Mitch Lazaren, the owner, and all the Bonanza staff. My grandpa made some frames for different maps and posters for the restaurant, and for Christmas one year, my grandparents were given Bonanza jackets with their names embroidered on them.

For years, my grandparents, parents, brother and I could regularly be found at Bonanza on Saturday nights. It was my favorite restaurant as much as Grandpa’s. The Chili Con Carne alone was enough to keep me going back.

How special was Bonanza to my grandparents? So special that during winter blizzards, my mom had to argue on the phone with Grandpa to get him to stay home rather than go there for supper. So special that in 1983, my grandparents celebrated their forty-ninth wedding anniversary there.

Other steakhouses have come and gone in Marquette, but Bonanza has outlived all its competition. The service remains impeccable, the food fantastic, and the atmosphere friendly, if a bit overwhelmed by hungry people crowding around the salad bar—but that’s the sign of a truly good restaurant.

Explore posts in the same categories: Marquette History, Tyler's Family, Upper Michigan History

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16 Comments on “Goodbye Bonanza”

  1. ellenandjim Says:

    Why is it closing? does it not get enough business?

  2. jeniferbrady Says:

    What a great tribute! Your words brought a tear to my eye, and I don’t live in Marquette and have probably eaten at this establishment only three or four times only in my life. I’ve always been a “place” person. Some people are moved by scents or songs. I just need to step into the place of somewhere I have good memories of, and I’m transported back in time to those memories. Places can come to mean so much to us, whether it’s a house we used to live in or a special spot on a back path hidden away in nature’s , or even a restaurant where we’ve had good times with friends and family. Every Sunday after church, when I was a kid, we used to go to a place called The Ranch in Iron Mountain with my grandparents (the set of grandparents that I’ve previously told you reminds me of your characters of Beth and Henry). It was a buffet similar to, but not exactly like, Bonanza, and it has been gone for years now. My family still brings up a certain food they had on their buffet (ordered rolls from them for our wedding, in fact) or our favorite server (a man who told jokes while serving). I always related to that part of your book when John and Chad would eat at Bonanza with their grandparents because it was similar to my childhood experiences. What is it about grandparents and going to yummy buffets??? 🙂

  3. Thanks for the comment, Jenifer. As a little additional Marquette history, Bonanza opened in Marquette in 1977. A few years later, Ponderosa opened – it was in the Westwood Mall parking lot where Applebee’s is today. At some point, Ponderosa became part of The Ranch chain, but it didn’t last. I liked Ponderosa and the Ranch, but Bonanza remains the winner in Marquette history when it came to buffets and salad bars.

  4. Joey Lazeren Says:

    Thank you Tyler for your tribute to our family business and the touching story in your book – I love my copy 🙂 It was an amazing 37 years and I am so happy that our parents, Mitch & Sharon Lazeren along with our Cousin Ed Gudewicz are able to finally retire. Here’s to the wonderful memories, the incredable impact this place had on everyone that walked through it’s doors, and to the future that Marquette holds for this little piece of land that we called home for so long. Cheers! – Joey Lazeren/Mitch & Sharons 1st son.

    • Thank you for the comment, Joey. I couldn’t miss marking Bonanza’s last day. It was the kind of place that brought families together. I know my parents and I thought of my grandparents whenever we went there. I wish all the best for your family.

      • Joey Lazeren Says:

        Thank you so much Tyler. It was a special place & I know it will be held in everyone’s hearts for many years to come 🙂

        PS. I would love to meet with you when I visit Marquette August 1-3 to have you sign my copy of your book 🙂 It is one of my favorites!

  5. Sure, Joey. I should be around. I’d be happy to sign your book.

  6. Just email me to remind me when the time gets closer – tyler @ marquettefiction. com and I’m in the phone book.

  7. Christian Says:

    I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new
    things you post…

  8. I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a visit this
    blog on regular basis to obtain updated from newest news.

  9. Reptar Says:

    So sad… we were a regular client from 2004 to 2008 when we lived there.

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