• Reporter Elaina John

Vermilion History: The Much-Adored Ponderosa Restaurant


The Vermilion Ponderosa. Photo Submitted.

The Ponderosa Restaurant was a much-adored location for Vermilion locals. Originally built by Les Kreller in early 1964, the Ponderosa was a staple to Vermilion locals. The restaurant was the perfect hangout for all ages from teenagers to seniors, reportedly having ‘the best mushroom burgers’. The Ponderosa switched hands only a few times; in 1969, it was sold to the Letawski family, who built and lived in living quarters above the restaurant. Later, the restaurant was sold to the Mah family, who expanded the restaurant in the 1980’s to accommodate for the volume of customers. The Mah’s bought the restaurant in 1977 and ran it until Don Mah suffered a heart attack, which led Mike Wong to run the restaurant until the land was sold in the late 90’s to a group who planned to build a Hotel and restaurant, which is where A&W and Super 8 stand today. The closing of the Ponderosa was the end of an era in the community of Vermilion. The restaurant portion of the building was knocked down, and the living quarters were moved to Tolland road, where it stood until it was burned down in approximately 2017. The Ponderosa was a very important building to Vermilion locals, and is still the scene of many fond memories.

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