Restaurants from the 90s That Have Gone the Way of Photomat, and Why I Don’t Miss Them

I came across this meme on social media today, and it brought back a whole slew of nineties restaurants I hated as a kid.
So I’ll name several:


Most locations have closed but it appears a few may still be around, although some may be called “Ponderosa” or “Home Style Dining.” Supposedly the chain emerged from a bankruptcy filing in 2009, but clearly its heyday is over.
We used to eat there all the time. All-you-can-eat slop. I never liked anything on the menu. Just cheap crap for people who want to eat ridiculous portion sizes cheap. I remembered the ham cut into perfect little cubes. I didn’t care for the taste but I loved the look of the cubes. (I no longer eat meat but did as a kid.)
Restaurants From the 90s
Why I don’t Miss the Bonanza Slophouse

Pizza Inn

OMFG how I HATED that we ate there every fucking Saturday because they had all-you- can-eat pizza and it was cheap, and my dad wanted to stuff his face with all-you-can-eat slop. Problem was, while I generally liked pizza, I HATED Pizza Inn’s because the quality was so bad. It was like eating cardboard. Truly awful. I remember the fake-wood bowls. I liked the bowls even though I didn’t like any of the food. Mostly I would get broccoli and drench it in ranch dressing, until I could barely taste the broccoli. I will never understand how that disgusting dump stayed in business as long as it did. I used to beg my parents to go to a real pizza place like Pizza Hut or Chuckie Cheese, you know, somewhere that the pizza actually tasted like pizza, but they said it was too expensive. No all-you-can-eat menu. (Pizza Inn is apparently still in business, but the one in my city went under years ago, for which my tastebuds are eternally grateful.)

Ryan’s Restaurant

Another all-you-can-eat-crap disaster restaurant. Like Golden Corral, which is also sadly still in business, it was one of those restaurants that had a strategy: The first month they were open, the food was good quality. Then once they got people thinking how great it was for the price, they’d swap in the crap ingredients. I SWEAR the food tasted totally different three months after they opened than the week they opened. Ultimately the only things I could eat there were the dinner rolls and honey butter. It takes a lot to fuck up bread. Everything else was awful. You know the desert bar with candy to put in the ice cream? They had these little chocolate candies that looked like M&M’s but tasted like a cheap imitation. BECAUSE THEY WERE. Seriously, I looked one time and they did NOT have the M stamped on them. THEY LITERALLY FUCKING SERVED KNOCKOFF M&M’S, HOW FUCKING CHEAP CAN YOU BE? I mean, it’s not like M&M’s are that damn expensive, especially if you were to buy them in bulk for a chain restaurant. We’re not talking caviar here. (Again, still in business but not where I live anymore. Good riddance.)
If there’s one near you, go check out the chocolate candies and tell me if they’re still fake. If they’ve upgraded to the real thing, I will take back my criticism of their knockoff candy.
What restaurants do you remember from when you were a kid?

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, a thought-provoking science fiction book series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent people abandoned Earth—and we’re what’s left?  


9 thoughts on “Restaurants from the 90s That Have Gone the Way of Photomat, and Why I Don’t Miss Them

  1. I remember Ponderosa as a kid. Our last one in the area which we referred to as “Pondegrossa” for good reason finally closed down about 5 years ago… good riddance! 🙂 fun post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s