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Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Carolyn and Thomas G. Blackburn, co-owners of Ponderosa Steakhouse on North Michigan Street in Plymouth, say they have formed many great friendships at Ponderosa over the years.

The Blackburn family’s friends and customers know they are going to get a delicious meal at a restaurant known for its award-winning history of excellence. If that weren’t enough, Ponderosa Steakhouse also offers several choices for every appetite.

Thomas says the Plymouth Ponderosa has maintained a strong reputation for great food and excellent service for many years.

“It was built in 1984,” Thomas says. “It opened on December 17, 1984, and I was the general manager. Ponderosa was owned by Venture Properties, Inc. Chris and Alan Collins were the principal owners. I bought them out in 2002, but I have led the (Ponderosa) management team here for the entire 35 years.”

Thomas notes that the Ponderosa Steakhouse chain started in 1965 in Kokomo, Indiana.

“It was family-owned,” he says. “During its growth period over the last decade, our style of restaurant has had its challenges. There have been three different owners of the corporate entity, but we have managed to survive and grow in Plymouth.”

Thomas credits his long-time customers for the growth.

“The Plymouth community and all of the surrounding areas of Marshall and Starke counties have been huge supporters as customers,” he says. “We also have many travelers from other areas.”

Thomas says the great food has been a big incentive for his repeat business.

“Our (customer favorites) are our chicken wings, fried chicken, meatloaf, beef and noodles, and soups and salads,” Thomas says. “They seem to lead the list of (favorite) buffet items. Our top sirloins, ribeyes and sirloin tips lead the steak category.”

Thomas has his own favorites.

“I am a small potato, salad and bread kind of guy,” he says.

Thomas noted that Ponderosa Steakhouse offers one low price for customers to experience new food each and every time they visit the restaurant.

The staple buffet items and rotating menu options at Ponderosa offer hearty and healthy choices. Customers with a preference for gluten-free food also have options. The all-you-can-eat buffet includes a variety of food choices for every appetite.

“Ponderosa also has additional menu items that are popular such as barbecue ribs, chicken and seafood that round out the entrée menu,” Thomas says.

Guests can enjoy two hot buffets every day with staples such as chicken wings and mashed potatoes, and two cold buffets with items such as fruit, salad and pudding.

Thomas adds that the soup kiosk features three different soups every day. There are also different buffet theme nights.

Thomas notes that Ponderosa also has a breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. The breakfasts feature a wide selection of pastries, cold cereal, toast, oatmeal, French toast sticks, pancakes, waffles, sausage and more.

Discounts are also available.   

“Senior citizens over the age of 55 have a discount menu, or they can receive a 10% discount off regular menu items,” Thomas says. “A kids menu for kids age 12 and under is also available.”

Thomas tells his guests to save room for dessert. The delicious desserts at Ponderosa include cookies, ice cream, sundaes, brownies, cakes and pies.

Thomas is proud that Ponderosa is an award-winning restaurant.

“We were QSC (quality, service and cleanliness) award winners for the entire franchised community in 1986 when there were over 250 restaurants involved,” he says. “It was great that we won. The inspection of the restaurant was very thorough, and it says a lot that we won over so many other restaurants. I’m very proud of that. We won a trip to Great America Theme Park and closed for a day with pay. We are very involved in the community, and have been recognized by many different organizations.”

Thomas says he and Carolyn moved to Plymouth in October of 1984 to help with the opening of the restaurant, and have live in Plymouth ever since. 

Thomas worked for Ponderosa’s corporate offices as a manager and supervisor before coming to Plymouth. He and Carolyn have had many great employees at Ponderosa over the years.

“My daughter Kathryn and son Greg have worked with me for many years,” Thomas says. “I would also like to mention Jim McClellan, who has managed with me for a long time.”

Thomas also can’t say enough about the great people of Plymouth.

“We have been blessed to be a part of this community,” he says. “All of the people that have been a part of our staff over these 35 years have gotten us to where we are today. They have been great.”

Ponderosa Steakhouse is located at 2100 North Michigan Street in Plymouth. Call 574-936-4128 or go to plymouthponderosa.com for more info.


February 13, 2020 at 7:14 am

We are an hour away & drive it at least once a month. Best ponderosa that we have ever been too! They never let us down and couldn’t ask for friendlier service.

April 22, 2020 at 3:05 am

[…] Photographer / Jubilee Edgell […]

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