Steak & Ale, the enduring American restaurant chain that offered diners the chance to eat mediocre prime rib in a building with slightly better lighting than Hitler’s bunker, died Tuesday after a long illness. It was 42 years old.
Metromedia, Steak & Ale’s parent company, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week and immediately shut down all fifty-eight chophouse locations. At one time, there were nearly 300 Steak & Ale restaurants in this great land of ours. That was back in the eighties. Then T.G.I.Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday came along and people realized they liked to see what they were eating. Thus, they abandoned Steak & Ale, leaving the restaurants to wither away and die like so many neglected house plants.
I wish I could say I the last time I entered a Steak & Ale was before the brutal onslaught of puberty, but that would be a vicious, hurtful lie. There was an S&A across the street from the book publisher I worked for in 2006. I ate their once with a co-worker (his suggestion, not mine). It was alright. I think to truly enjoy it, you have to imagine a world without electricity, sunlight, happiness, optimism, and good feelings in general. Not too hard when you’re sitting around a dining area that could double as a medieval torture chamber.
Bennigan’s was also affected by Metromedia’s Chapter 7 filing; 200 of the Irish-themed eateries bit the dust Tuesday, much to the dismay of casual drunks and college students across the country. I guess deep fried corn beef sandwiches just aren’t what they used to be.
No one had Steak & Ale in the death pool.