Into The Sunset

MARQUETTE – Bonanza Steakhouse is closing Sunday after almost 37 years.

Mitch Lazeren of Marquette, owner and operator, said, “This is a good business decision. It’s not an emotional decision that I made. It becomes emotional with your employees and customers.”

Lazeren opened the restaurant, located on U.S. 41 in Marquette Township, on March 14, 1977. He operated the business with his partner, Ed Gudewicz of Skandia, with about 42 people now employed there.

Lazeren explained he had to “stop the bleeding” because wage increases, taxes and the rising cost of food and other expenses took their toll.

However, more than 600 employees earned their paychecks at Bonanza over its nearly 37-year lifespan.

Lazeren said it was fun to see high schoolers with no business experience go through orientation and learn the business – and watch them bloom.

“And then being able to watch them go on to their careers,” he said.

Lazeren expressed appreciation for those workers.

“Because without my employees doing the job, I’m nothing,” he said.

Lazeren also had gratitude for the customers.

“They paid the way,” he said. “They were able to pay the employees every week.”

Unfortunately, because of a changing economy, there were fewer of them in recent years.

“Over the last five years, it’s been gradually showing its wear,” Lazeren said of the restaurant’s financial status. “In the last year, it has really stuck out.”

However, his son Jeff pointed out his father, as well as his mother Sharon, set a good example, saying, “On behalf of the family, we’re all very proud of our father and mother and the way they’ve run the restaurant and the family.”

Lazeren said he plans to sell the building, but is not going to retire.

“I’m going to not sit in a rocking chair or couch,” he said. “I’m a very active guy.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.