Portage la Prairie, MB –
Nathan Ogilvie won’t eat until he can fill up with all-you-can-eat steak and shrimp. The 40 year-old Portager is lobbying government and business with hopes of bringing Bonanza Restaurants back to town.
Once the most popular and dynamic restaurant in the region, Bonanza fell victim to challenges with the viability of the chain over 25 years ago. Ogilvie hasn’t been able to have a good meal out since, and he is fed up with the lack of action on bringing back his favorite eating spot.
“I’ve been passing around petitions for years,” Ogilvie explained. “I’ve been to city hall, the Manitoba Legislature and even Parliament Hill but they aren’t listening. We have a group of people who call and write the Bonanza head office in the states but they won’t bring back our Freshtastiks Salad Bar.”
Sadness fell over the region, and a void formed when they pulled the sign down that only T-bones, ribeyes, chicken Monterey, and endless soft-serve ice cream could fill. Portagers fell in love with the marginal cuts of meat, cooked inconsistently, saddled with exquisite baked potatoes along with unlimited trips to a salad bar, the likes of which they had never seen.
“I remember lining up out the door on Friday nights,” Ogilvie recalls. “The all-you-can-eat steak and shrimp was the best. You’d have people not eating for days before they came in and loaded up. We need to bring Bonanza back and make Portage great again.”
Ogilvie vows not to eat anything until he can get assurances from government officials and corporate executives that Bonanza will return to the starving city of 13,000 souls.
“I look forward to breaking my hunger strike with a medium rare ribeye, a plate full of golden fried shrimp, and 4 trips to the Freshtastiks Food Bar. But I’m not just doing this for me; I’m doing it for Portage.”
Many have speculated that Bonanza’s amazing popularity in the prairie city was due to its killer combination of value and volume. Bottomless drinks, a salad bar that was more a cornucopia of treats than a healthy option, bargain items like Country Fried Steaks, fish dinners and chopped steaks allowed everyone to get uncomfortably full on a budget.
“Bonanza was, and is, the perfect Portage restaurant,” Ogilvie said. “It captures the essence of who we are. We like predictable, simple and unchallenging foods. We need to bring Bonanza back a.s.a.p. It’s part of our identity.”
Local and provincial officials support Ogilvie and his desire to have the iconic steak house return but do not support his hunger strike. They point out it may take a while to get all the things in place to make Bonanza Portage la Prairie a reality.
The return of Bonanza promises to be a tourism boost as many former Portagers plan to return home to enjoy their favourite flame broiled fare.
We will have more on this story as it breaks.