Whatever happened to …

… $0.99 Ponderosa steaks?

How many ways can you cook a squash?  That was a conversation that we would regularly have during first year at university.   Don’t worry – I’ll get to the point soon.

One of the guys that I lived with came from a farm and, when he would go home on weekends, he’d load up on squash from the fields.  Often, they were the ugly looking ones that you couldn’t sell at the roadside stands.  It was prime time for squash – going to university in the fall.

What got me thinking of this?  It was a comment from Aviva Dunsiger last week when we got talking about “university poor”.  Starting in Grade 9 when I thought that I’d like to go to university, I saved as much as I could.  I had done the work on tuition costs, books, accommodations, etc.  Of course, I couldn’t do it myself and my parents were really supportive.

So, I had everything planned except for one thing – food.  I had no idea.  Living with others in the same situation, we became thankful for the free squash.

Fortunately, there was Tuesday nights at Ponderosa.  We would head up University Avenue, past that other university, and near the corner of Weber Street, there was the steakhouse.  We made a trip every Tuesday because you could get a nice steak and roast potato dinner for $0.99.  We couldn’t cook for that price!  There often was a lineup but it was worth it!  I seem to recall that they “jacked up” the prices at one point to $1.29.  Sadly, this chain of restaurants is no longer available.  But there are many others instead.  Nobody ever really filled that price point though. (even after adjusting for inflation)

But, for this group of four, it was our way of having a nice, affordable meal at least once a week.

And, to this day, I can’t look a squash in the face.

How about you?

  • Do you remember the Ponderosa steakhouse chain in Canada?  Were you a frequent diner there?
  • Were you “university poor”?  How did you cope?
  • Things are certainly different these days around universities.  There are all kinds of restaurant options for students.  Do you think that they can all afford to eat there?  Is “university poor” still a thing?
  • Is there such a thing as an affordable steakhouse in your community?

I’d be most interested in your thoughts to the above and maybe even more?

I got hungry just blogging about this.   Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

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2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, I love where your mind went with my university comment. I remember hearing about 99 cent steaks and Ponderosa, but never actually experiencing them. For us in university, pasta became the affordable option. We made a lot of it, in many different ways, and even enjoyed dinners with friends and roommates around bowls of pasta. At least partial meal plans helped though with a little more variety for no additional money. I do remember that a trip out to Kelsey’s was a special occasion, which seems quite the opposite now. It’s amazing how things change! Thanks again for a weekly trip down memory lane.

    Aviva

    P.S. I also went to university in North Bay (loved it!!), and the restaurant options around Nipissing were limited. I wonder if people in bigger universities with more restaurants surrounding them would have different affordable choice options. Location matters, I guess.

  2. We had Ponderosa in the states as well. I lived on campus and my Dad paid for the food plan. One day I found out that the cost of the plan was based on how many meals the average student actually ate. It turns out that part of the calculation was 2 breakfasts a semester. I guess a lot of college students slept in as much as possible. in any case I promised myself I would eat breakfast at least 3 times a semester to make sure my Dad was getting real value for his money. I think I beat that number most of the time.

    I also used my own money to by bread and peanut butter for snack sandwiches. My idea of when the peanut jar was empty changes a lot once the cost was on me. Imagine that.

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