There are plenty of steak and shrimp lovers out there, but it’s not an indulgence they can always afford at most restaurants. For those on a budget, Sizzler steakhouses have long offered a cost-effective alternative, making them a favorite for families across America for over fifty years.

In 1958, Del and Helen Johnson opened their first Del’s Sizzler Family Steakhouse in Culver City, California. They employed a number of innovative ideas, such as having customers line up to order their food before being seated, that helped to keep the costs down. By doing so, they provided an affordable night out on the town at a respectable restaurant.

By the 70s, there were hundreds of Sizzler restaurants dotting the landscape across America, each offering a variety of steak and seafood entries, as well as a salad bar. Then in the 80s, they introduced a very popular concept, the “all you can eat” shrimp dinner.

Gluttons came out of the woodwork to consume as many of the Creustacians as possible (even if they consisted of tiny shrimp, enlarged in appearance by a lot of breading.) This led the company to significantly expand their salad bar and turn it into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Sadly, once the company went the buffet route, less emphasis was placed on the entrees, since the majority of their patrons came for the salad bar and shrimp. As the quality declined, the company image suffered as a result. Sizzler filed bankcruptcy in 1996, closing approximately 75% of their locations. They were down, but not out.

Returning to their roots, the restaurant chain has moved away from buffet model and refocused their efforts on providing a reasonably-priced steak dinner (as well as pasta or chicken if you prefer) that a family on a budget can afford. New locations continue to sprout up, with the company boasting 270 locations in the US alone.

And, for the shrimp lovers among us, you’ll be happy to know that (as of this writing, at least), one aspect of the 80s is still alive at Sizzler – you can still get an endless pile of the deep fried delicacies to go with your steak, just like you did back in the day.

If you are a fan of Sizzler restaurants, we welcome all of your thoughts and recollections of this affordable eatery in our comments section below.

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