Shawano Ponderosa to close, owner says

The Shawano Leaer/August 24, 2008

The Ponderosa Steak House in Shawano will permanently close its doors as of midnight Monday, according to the owner of the local franchise.

William Janney of Indianapolis, who owns the Shawano operation under the business name of Shaw-Bay, Inc., confirmed the closing to a Leader reporter Thursday.

Janney initially told the reporter he would discuss the reasons for the closing next week. He later rescinded that offer after learning the reporter had contacted a Ponderosa employee about the closing.

Employees at the restaurant were apparently unaware of the situation. A restaurant supervisor contacted Thursday afternoon said there had been no notification the restaurant was going to close.

Janney contacted the city clerk last week to say the restaurant was relinquishing its beer license and closing its doors at midnight on Aug. 25.

However, city officials said Friday they were looking into whether the short-notice closing may be in violation of state statutes.

State law mandates that employee representatives, affected employees and the chief elected official of the local unit of government must be notified of business closings or mass layoffs at businesses employing more than 50 people.

An employee is considered anyone working at the restaurant more than 20 hours per week. It was not clear how many employees the Shawano Ponderosa has or whether it would fall under the state statute.

The Ponderosa Steak House leases the property at 1247 E. Green Bay St. from the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology. SIST purchased the property in 2003.

Shawano Mayor Lorna Marquardt said it is hoped the restaurant can still be saved.

"It's a busy restaurant that serves many people in Shawano and the surrounding areas," she said.

Janney did not specify the reason for the closing to the city, but Marquardt said officials would look into whether there is a chance of resolving the issue.

"Hopefully, whatever the problems are can be worked out," she said, "or perhaps he would consider another location in town."

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