More than a vibrant sign off Interstate 15 and Murrieta Hot Springs Road, the recently renovated Murrieta Sizzler greets guests with a modern Craftsman design. No longer your grandfather’s Sizzler, the restaurant combines casual dining with finery and full service as it has taken strides away from the antiquated franchise look.
“The Sizzler looked like every building in the plaza, so from the freeway or shopping center the building had the aesthetics of a store not a restaurant,” store owner and Vice President of Marketing Sally Myers said, “the store was built in ‘92, and we gutted it to the studs and closed it for four months. Now this design is being debuted across the country.” The store underwent massive reconstruction from teals and mauves to tiles and modernized seating.
In the midst of a Monday lunch rush, I browsed the menu while waiting for a table in the entryway looking at the menu posted on the wall. The atmosphere was friendly, as hosts stepped out from behind the counter and personally greeted arriving guests, assisting and relieving the growing line in minutes.
Before the remodel, the confining countertop kept the hosts separate and distant, with the remodel they can now play a more active role in the dining experience, Myers said. In the attempt to rebrand the restaurant, Myers took pivotal steps to changing the atmosphere through dramatic exterior renovations, new high-top seating, energy-saving, LED lighting and cohesive color palettes. The “Sizzler New Generation” move began in 2010 and has proven successful amongst the Myers’ 20 renovated Sizzler restaurants.
New generation Sizzlers are located in Murrieta, Perris, Hemet, Moreno Valley and Banning and are owned by BMW Management, an independent owner and operator of Sizzler restaurants. Gary Myers is the CEO, and Sally Myers is vice president of marketing.
“We’ve revived the brand and now appeal to a whole new generation, bringing in more people loyal and new,” General Manager Lori Morgan said. The decor alterations have both patriotic murals and local pictures throughout the restaurants’ rebranded space.
A variety of seating allows all sizes of parties to be seated comfortably. Upon walking to my seat, I caught a glimpse of the salad bar with a chef in the middle creating the signature salads in front of the guests. The salad bar is self-serve and offers unlimited returns; the center of the establishment is open to fresh greens, seasonal fruits and salad ingredients.
I was immediately drawn to the handmade salads displayed in the front, starting with the super foods salad containing eight of the 10 super foods. I enjoyed the variety of textures and the punch of the dressing. I decorated my salad with green bell pepper and a seasonal mix of spinach, strawberries and blueberries. I was pleasantly surprised by the sweetness of the salad; I am an avid fruit lover.
While the salad bar features primarily cold items, along the back wall were soups, nacho and taco ingredients, fried chicken, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and an ice cream bar. Fan favorites include the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. I chose a small serving of macaroni and cheese with a hearty layer of melted cheese.
Guests can enjoy their meal accompanied by the complimentary honey coated dinner rolls and cheese toast that nearly melts in your mouth. I tried the limited-time selection, pulled pork barbecue sandwich. It was mouth wateringly good. The coleslaw topping made for an interesting combination and gave a unique texture to the sandwich.
Sizzler Murrieta serves two types of fish, salmon and barramundi. In my meal, I tried the barramundi and rice which had a distinct flavor of lime and cilantro and was complimented by the Roma tomatoes. While completely full from my taste testing, I managed to try the Sizzler summer skewer made with certified Angus beef. The meat has undergone testing to ensure the quality of marbling, and the quality shows. Another skewer featured Cajun shrimp packed with flavor if you’re willing to eat with your hands.
No meal is finished without dessert; in this case, I took to the ice cream bar topped with a photo of the owner’s grandson enjoying his own cone. While the ice cream is from a typical soft serve machine, guests are given numerous topping options to choose from, such as gummy bears, crushed Oreos, chocolate chips and caramel, chocolate and strawberry sauces.
The delicious food itself is the restaurants’ main selling point, but the renovations have enhanced the restaurant’s dining experience. The tipping point was the full-service assistance and hospitality that made my visit an enjoyable one. Waiters make themselves easily available, asking to toss your salad creation and offering a to-go cup for your drink. It is clear they have undergone specialized training.
They always ended a request from a customer by saying “my pleasure,” but the pleasure is truly mine.