Ponderosa Steakhouse in the Park Hills Plaza will serve its last meals today.
The longtime restaurant known for casual dining and its buffets, announced the closing on its marquee and offered thanks.
While the restaurant's general manager was not available Saturday for comment, a manager assisting with the closing said the restaurant's 40 part-time employees were made aware of the decision. She said she was not authorized to address the reasons.
"I just heard about it today," patron Reed Meeker of Bellefonte said after dining Saturday afternoon at Ponderosa. "We used to eat at the one in State College, but after it closed, we came here. It's a really good place to eat."
Jacob Booher of Bedford said he loves the Ponderosa's macaroni and cheese and its buffet.
When living with his parents in Punxsutawney, he said they often went to the Ponderosa Steakhouse in DuBois. So after moving to Bedford, he said began patronizing Altoona's Ponderosa.
"This place is awesome," Booher said. "And it's sad that it's closing."
The Ponderosa Steakhouse in DuBois remains open, as well as ones in Johnstown and Indiana, Pa.
Altoona Mirror records show that Altoona's Ponderosa Steakhouse began using that name on March 1, 1980, after operating as a Patriot Steak House. The change was viewed as one of the ramifications of a buyout that occurred two years earlier, when the Ponderosa chain bought several Patriot Steak House restaurants in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
During the last 30-plus years, Altoona's selection of buffet-style and steakhouse restaurants has increased substantially, with the newest competitor, Longhorn Steakhouse, opening in October 2011, about a half mile away from the Ponderosa Steakhouse.
But the Longhorn Steakhouse has never been good for Booher, who was preparing to eat dinner on Saturday night at the Ponderosa Steakhouse.
"This place is so much better," Booher said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.