Ponderosa Steak Barn,
Meet Your Friends There!
Where Good Eatin' is a Family Affair!
Ponderosa was in Trenholm Plaza more or less where Holey Dough & Heavenly Ham are now, and was one of the first wave of steakhouses (that I can recall) to come into Columbia. We went through a period of eating Sunday dinner there more often than not. They had a Western theme, both in the names of the menu items and the decor. The Western motif extended to the seating. I think there were booths around the walls of the restaurant, but the seating in the middle of the place was polished wood benches and tables. They weren't quite "picnic" tables because the benches were free-standing, but it was pretty rustic. Aside from the standard steak and burger offerings, they also had a salad bar, which was something I hadn't seen before. As an 8 year old, I had no interest in it, but I think it impressed my mother. They also had "Texas toast" which did impress me, and since it didn't come with anything I ordered, I was always angling to beg it off of my mother or father.
As I said, all of the menu items had Western themed names, and I invariably orded the "Buckboard Burger", which was simply a hamburger (you could get it with cheese as well..). This item led to a 30 year misunderstanding between my father and me. Since I would always get the same thing (and since he would be doing the ordering), he would always ask in that way parents have of kind of "deviling at" their kids:
So, are you going to get the Buggy Burger again?
and then watching in amusement as I got all worked up about it:
It's the Buckboard Burger!
When we were reminiscing about it years later, we finally came to a mutual understanding. My father, who was born in 1915, knew very well what a "buckboard" was -- a type of horse-drawn buggy. I had no idea. He thought I was just being "prissy" about wanting to call the burger by the name it was listed under on the menu, while I always thought he was implying that the burger was made out of bugs!
Unfortunately, Ponderosa burned down sometime in the late 1960s (I think), and never came back to Trenholm Plaza. I believe there was another one in Cayce where we used to go sometimes (and ask to go to the Giant Slide), but that was a long drive, and it didn't seem as good.
Years later, I ran across a Ponderosa chain in the Kansas City area, but the menu items had different names, and I was never able to tell if it were the same operation or just a common choice of a Western name. It was OK, but nothing out of the ordinary. That chain came very briefly to Myrtle Beach (to the parking lot of the Surfside Kroger actually), but folded after a very short run.
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