With dimly lit rooms, wood paneling, prime cuts of meat, and lots of beer and wine, Steak and Ale was an iconic steakhouse chain for more than four decades. Unfortunately, the affordable family chain closed its final location in 2008, much to the chagrin of fans. So it's no wonder that the recent news about its revival is generating excitement.
Fans will be able to enjoy Steak and Ale again in the very near future—the first of its planned 15 locations will open this year in Burnsville, Minn. According to reports, the chain's second coming will combine old-school fan-favorite elements with a few modern changes.
With the seeming death, or at least lull, of fine dining, an affordable steakhouse is essentially the holy grail. "People harken to the days when they can have a great experience and don't have to spend a lot of money," Paul Mangiamele, Chairman & CEO of Legendary Restaurant Brands, which acquired Steak and Ale in 2015, told Restaurant Business. "The evolution of the affordable steakhouse category is ready for the reintroduction."
Steak and Ale aficionados, including those in the 50,000-member Facebook fan group, needn't worry that too much will change. "We wanted to keep the same vibe, the same ambiance, the same energy," said Mangiamele.
That will include the chain's iconic logo and many of the signature menu items, including the beloved salad bar, which was overwhelmingly praised by the fans in the Facebook group. Whether that means the signature herb-roasted prime rib, Kensington club, and Hawaiian chicken are returning has not been revealed. The two latter are part of the current Bennigan's Steak and Ale Classics menu.
"Just don't do the expanded menu that helped kill the original. Folks don't come to a place called STEAK AND ALE for pasta. And do live music in the bar," one Facebook user wrote. Another agreed, "The perfect menu would have maybe 15 Food menu items max."
However, there definitely will be some modern touches at new Steak and Ale restaurants, including a prime-rib carving station and tableside salad preparation. The menu will also feature some "culinary fusion" and an expanded selection of craft beer (it is called Steak and Ale, after all). Plus, the projected restaurants will be about 4,000 square feet smaller.
Anticipated additional locations, in conjunction with Bennigans and Bennigan's On the Fly, are planned in Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. Mangiamele said he's been "bombarded" by people interested in owning one but he's been moving forward slowly and deliberately. It seems Legendary Restaurant Brands really wants to get this one right.