Remember Ground Round? There’s Still One Operating in New York
For me, it's hard to drive down Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford without thinking of the old Ground Round restaurant.
In the same building which Red Samurai Japanese Steakhouse now occupies, there was once a Ground Round. And boy, when you were a kid, going there was an event.
Ask anyone what they remember about the Ground Round, and they usually mention a few things. Firstly, the steaks. You could get a great cut of beef for a price that didn't break the bank.
Secondly, the peanuts. Ground Round was one of the original "throw s*%$ on the floor" places. Definitely a unique -- if not a little barbaric -- thing to do when you're a kid. You couldn't do that at home... you'd be grounded (no pun intended).
Thirdly -- and probably the thing I remember most...
HOME OF "PAY WHAT YOU WEIGH"
What a fun, albeit weird promotional gimmick this was. With how uptight everyone is these days, it doesn't seem like something that would be accepted today.
In a nutshell -- again, no pun intended -- kids' meals would be priced according to a child's weight, in pennies. Hell, even if you were a fat kid, that's a pretty good deal.
HISTORY OF GROUND GROUND
The first Ground Round opened in 1969 in Massachusetts, during a time when American casual dining chains were blossoming. According to their website:
As the original "no rules" place, the Ground Round® was a big success with customers. During the early 1980s, Ground Round ® evolved towards a fun, family-oriented environment. In the 1990s, everyone, including families, began to dine out more often. People expected quality food and service, and once again, the Ground Round® met this guest expectation by improving food quality, taste profiles, portion size, customer service and overall value.
At its peak, there were roughly 200 Ground Rounds across the country. Then, a shift in American dining preferences and a plethora of financial woes shrunk the chain to Endangered Species status. (See: Friendly's, Ponderosa, etc.) There are still a few around though, including...
ONE LEFT IN NEW YORK
You can find one Ground Round still in operation in New York, but you've gotta go downstate for it. It's located in the Brookhaven section of Long Island. Besides that one there, there are two other Ground Rounds operating in the northeast, both in Maine.
- Brookhaven (Long Island), New York • 2647 Montauk Hwy
- Bangor, Maine • 248 Odlin Road
- Hallowell, Maine • 215 Whitten Road
What are your favorite memories of the Ground Round? Take a trip down memory lane with this retro 1987 Ground Round commercial on YouTube: