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Steakhouse pioneer Stuart Anderson dies at age 93

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Stuart Anderson, the former tank driver who showed the industry how to sell steak dinners to a mass market through his Black Angus Steakhouse chain, died Monday at age 93.

Anderson retired from the business 30 years ago, but his influence can still be seen in any number of value-price, Western-theme steakhouse concepts, from Bonanza to Texas Roadhouse. His organization was also the training ground for such celebrated current chain executives as Julia Stewart, CEO of IHOP’s and Applebee’s parent, DineEquity.

About 45 Black Angus restaurants are still in operation, down from a high point of 120.

Anderson started Black Angus in 1964, when most restaurant chains were either fast-food concepts or family-oriented coffee shops like Big Boy and Hot Shoppes. Black Angus promised a full steak dinner—soup or salad, steak and potato—for $2.99.

Dessert was not included because of Anderson’s desire to turn the tables quickly.

He sold the business in 1972 to Saga Corp., which was subsequently acquired itself by Marriott Corp. Black Angus became part of American Restaurant Group, which went bankrupt.

Anderson returned to the restaurant business in 2010 when he bought a single Black Angus unit that was failing. He said he wanted to preserve the employees’ jobs, and reopened the place as Stuart’s Steakhouse. It closed in 2012.

Anderson, who drove a tank in Gen. George Patton’s forces during World War II, died at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The stated cause was lung cancer.

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