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This Steakhouse Chain Disappeared in 2008—But Now It's Making a Comeback

Get ready for the old-school favorites like the prime-rib carving station.

Founded way back in 1966, one particular steakhouse chain separated itself from other restaurants at the time by offering diners an upscale, yet still casual, dining experience all for an affordable price. Such concepts may sound fairly commonplace in today's restaurant industry, but Steak and Ale was truly ahead of its time.

Viewed by many as the spiritual predecessor to modern casual dining juggernauts like Friday's or LongHorn Steakhouse, Steak and Ale restaurants haven't been seen since 2008. Legendary Restaurant Brands, the parent company of Steak and Ale, Bennigan's, and Bennigan's On The Fly, had plans to revive the chain and open up the first Steak and Ale in years in Cancun, but it appears the US will be the first spot to welcome back the iconic chain.  They just announced a new Area Development Agreement with Endeavor Properties that will create 15 new locations of both brands within numerous U.S. markets.

The very first Steak and Ale restaurant in roughly 15 years is projected to open around late or early fall of this year in Burnsville, Minnesota. The new deal also gives Endeavor exclusive expansion rights for the brands in Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas.

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"The revival of Steak and Ale has truly been a labor of love for our team, and while we were eager to reintroduce the brand, we understood the importance of finding the ideal partner first," says Paul Mangiamele, Chairman and CEO of Legendary Restaurant Brands. "We believe we found that partner in Endeavor. They understand how much our loyal guests miss the polished casual steakhouses and the value-driven, family-friendly food and service at Steak and Ale, just as they long for the signature Bennigan's menu and memorable dining experiences. We're looking forward to growing together through this exciting relationship."

When Norman Brinker first founded Steak and Ale, he had already showcased considerable acumen in the restaurant industry. Following successful stints at Jack In The Box and a short-lived coffee company he founded called Brink's, Norman set his sights on a high-end steakhouse for the everyman. Known for its Tudor style décor and British-inspired menu items like the London Broil and Henry VIII Strip, Steak and Ale quickly became a hit. By the time Brinker sold Steak and Ale to Pillsbury in 1976, the chain featured over 100 domestic locations.

Brinker would then go on to create Bennigan's, an Irish-American-themed grill and tavern chain while working as an executive for Pillsbury that very same year. Fast forward to 2008, however, and the owner of both Bennigan's and Steak and Ale (S&A Restaurant Group) filed for bankruptcy. Both chains were eventually acquired by Legendary Restaurant Brands in 2015.

While no Steak and Ale locations have been seen since 2008, Bennigan's has remained active with a small number of locations. There are currently 12 domestic and 15 international Bennigan's restaurants. Notably, in 2018 Bennigan's locations started offering patrons a few select "Steak and Ale Classics" like the Kensington Club and Hawaiian Chicken.

Upon opening, the new Steak and Ale restaurants will feature classic dishes enjoyed by patrons all those years ago, as well as a number of updates like a Prime Rib carving station and table-side service. A recent Facebook post to the page Steak and Ale's Comeback racked up hundreds of comments with Steak and Ale fans weighing in on the beloved chain. And while many are excited that the chain is returning a few are bewildered that the chain wouldn't come back to its home state of Texas.

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John