Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vintage Western Sizzlin: Clemson, SC

Western Sizzlin was once the undisputed star of the family steakhouse industry. Since the 80's, however, most steakhouse chains with their old-fashioned comfort food, stuff-your-face buffets and aging crowds have fallen out of favor with the young, weight conscious and hipster crowd. Because of that, the chain exists in fewer and fewer locations. Nevertheless, it is far from dead and remains quite successful in secondary and tourist-oriented markets.

Most Western Sizzlins I see today are fairly recently built with their older locations long closed, abandoned or repurposed. None, though, are as puzzling as this location in Clemson, SC. That is because not only is it an original location mostly unmodified, but also because if the chain is not what it used to be, you would never know it by the full parking lot I saw there. The sign and style of this location I have not seen in years, so that is why I wanted to show you this rare treat.


  1. We have a few Western Sizzlin' locations left here, but none of them still look like this. They even kept the sign! That's very odd (and cool).

  2. i don't think healthy eating did in these kinds of places. They simply ran their course, but still do well where they don't have a lot of new competition. A lot of people survived on Ponderosa, et al.'s buffets through college and never wanted to eat at one again. In some ways, Applebee's has taken over some of this niche (with the smae heavily marinated mystery steak), but with table service.

  3. I miss steakhouse buffet restaurants like Sizzlin and Quincy's. All we have left, here on the Gulf Coast, is Ryans(ugh) and Golden Corral (bleh).

  4. We used to eat at a Western Sizzlin' every Wednesday for dinner when my dad got paid. This was throughout the '70's. It was on Hwy 41 in Marietta, Ga, with a clear line of sight to the Big Chicken. Building is still there.....I believe an apartment finding business occupies it now.

  5. I was one of the original employees who helped open this particular location I was one of the original managers from 1983 until 1987. It openend on September 18, 1982.

    The reason this particular locale was chosen is due to the fact that there were two existing steakhouses further down the street, Pixie & Bills which is still in existence and "The Hungry Bull" which later changed the name to "The Golden Coral". their mistake was copying Ryans Family Steakhouses with their "Mega-Bar" when their only competition in town was Western Sizzlin.

    The main reason this site was chosen was the cost of the land and the crowds of traffic that passed right by the restaurant before and after Clemson football games.

    I think another of the reasons people came in was also due to the uniforms the waitresses wore, tight red button down shirts and black skirts.

    Alot of great memories and lasting friendships were made at this establishment.


    ps if anyone who worked there past or present is interested in a reunion it would be great to hear from them. contact me at

  6. I worked in this restaurant in the 80's. It paid my way through college, as well as introduced me to my wife and soulmate of 21 years.
    I no longer reside in Clemson, but always eat there when passing through. The restaurant looks the same (menu and all). Several employees that I worked with in 1985 are still there to this day.
    For me, this Western Sizzlin in a true time machine. Order the 13 1/2 (cheeseburger)!!

  7. The restaurant was called The Hungry Bull,before it bought out by the weston Sizzler sumter S.C. My parents use to take us there when we were kids,my mom said it use be on a wednesday

  8. The Western Sizzlin' at Jackson Plaza in Sylva, North Carolina burned in 1998. But the skeleton of the sign (including the Flamekist Steaks sign fully intact, how strange) is still there, along with the landscaping, parking lot and foundation. It's at the end of a dying shopping center that used to have Goody's, Rose's and Bi-Lo. Unfortunately, the only anchor that is left is Rose's. The other storefronts are occupied by a temporary First Citizens Bank (moving back to downtown when their new building is completed in 2013, former Goody's), a nasty Chinese Buffet restaurant (the one near Smoky Mountain High School on NC 107 is much better), a store known as Kelley's that sells stuff like wheelchairs, a storefront that was last home to Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store, run by my Grandmother, the empty Thunder Lanes Bowling Alley (old Bi-Lo), an empty Bar, Plaza Pawn & Gun, Rose's and the town's Post Office, which moved there from downtown in an attempt to save money and the shopping center. There are several storefronts either vacant or filled with businesses that aren't doing well. I remember eating at the long since burned Western Sizzlin' as a young child. My parents often brought me there after church. I believe that the Western Sizzlin' was built in the late 1970s or early 1980s, when the whole shopping center was built. It is located off of Grindstaff Cove Road at the Downtown Sylva exit from US 74.

  9. worked at a western sizzlin steakhouse in gulfport ms was franchise back in the 80s early 80s until the owners went belly up