Mystery of Bonanza safe to be cracked
A previous owner of the Bonanza Steakhouse in Saskatoon has shed some light on the tale of a mystery safe discovered buried under the floor of the restaurant.
The restaurant was destroyed by fire on Feb. 21, and has since been demolished, but during the teardown, contractor Ryan Schwab of Z.C.T. Construction found the safe concealed beneath the women’s washroom, which was previously the eatery’s office.
Hoping to find out what’s inside, Schwab asked anyone in Saskatoon who could open the safe without damaging it to get in touch, as the dial was gone and its combination long forgotten.
After seeing news reports about the safe, Bonanza’s former owner, Bill Balek, contacted The StarPhoenix, explaining he was part of a small group that placed items in the safe before it was buried in what he called a “time capsule.”
Balek, who owned the location between 1977 and 1982, said the safe was decommissioned in 1980. While he can’t recall exactly what they put into it, he and his wife found its recent discovery entertaining.
“Trust me, they’re not going to find a bunch of money in it because I didn’t leave any in there,” said Balek, who now resides in Hayden, Idaho.
“My wife and I both giggled about it because she was there when we did it. There was four of us around when we put the thing in the ground and then we closed it up and never used it again.”
Schwab previously said he hopes to restore the safe to usable condition. Balek wished him luck with that.
Gary Baba, the restaurant’s owner before the fire, said news of the safe’s discovery has “blown up.”
“I’ve got text messages (and) phone calls all day yesterday, all day today,” he said, noting the possibility it contains some pieces of Saskatoon history has piqued his interest even further.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said, adding he’s been in communication with Schwab about cracking the safe.
“Next week, we’ll probably get it open.”
Schwab said he believes he’s found someone to open the safe, but noted they still have to examine the box further before cracking it.
“We’ll make sure the right hands get ahold of whatever’s in there.”