Despite an uncertain economy, new and expanding businesses in Henry County give residents a reason for dining out.
Steve Losch never intended to expand his business to include hommade smoked barbecue, live music or outside seating for 50. But with the new county liquor law, he saw a way to keep residents from dining out in another county.
“I have hired five people in the last four weeks, giving young kids a way to make money in the county, and I can have local musicians perform here,” Losch said. “I could’ve never done this before.”
Losch started from scratch 18 years ago, building his Pendleton business up to include outside and inside seating areas. Patrons can watch sporting and pay-per view events on 10 high-definition televisions, or listen to local musicians while enjoying menu items including the barbecue, which Losch and his staff smoke for more than 12 hours onsite.
“There wasn’t anyone doing the slow-cooked Boston-butt pulled pork around here. Most of the competition is fast food or deep-fried items. I thought this was our niche,” Lousch said. “We use local honey and make our own secret sauce.”
The patrons at The Loft have given Losch’s barbecue a winning response, and the restaurant now sells it hot or cold for catering events, and by the pound for carryout.
“We’ve also added smoked wings to our menu. We have fried ones as well, but my customers kept requesting [smoked],” Losch said. “Even the cod we have on the menu doesn’t come in pre-breaded. We do that by hand, too.”
The Loft Restaurant can now offer patrons drink specials, beer, wine and mixed drinks. The outside loft dining room has a cozy rustic appeal with picnic tables for large groups and smaller café tables with wrought-iron bar chairs for couples. Its trading post and “Americana” feel, plus its female staff decked out in western boots and cowboy hats, makes for accessible, family-friendly and unpretentious dining.
The atmosphere in the inside dining room is similar, and a working wood stove adds to the ambience.
The Loft offers live entertainment Thursday through Sunday nights, with open mic night on Thursdays. The official grand opening is Thursday, Aug. 8, featuring members of Six Miles South.
For Losch, success isn’t a stopping point.
“I’ve worked to bring this place to its full potential,” Losch said. “I’m working on an area around the restaurant that will give bikers an easy place to park when they travel. Out here on this end of the county, it’s a very country, laid-back atmosphere.”
For more information about The Loft Restaurant visit their Facebook page or call (502) 743-9727.
Owner and auctioneer David Neville didn’t just build a company that sells locally grown produce and goods.
He also hired a chef to cook them.
Kari Graves of Ghent, Ky., produces culinary gems with her own twist on traditional dishes.
Graves trained in classic French cuisine and has worked in the kitchens of the Seelbach and the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Ariz. From cooking for celebrities to catering for large parties, her small-town, rural chef gig between Campbellsburg and Turner Station gets her most rave review.
“I took this job because I have been a gardener all of my life,” Graves said. “Farmers bring their goods in, and I pick what I want to use every day, and it doesn’t hit the refrigerator.”
Without a commercial walk-in refrigerator, Graves’ ingredients aren’t processed, nor do they arrive frozen in a cryovac bag.
With fresh foods, “the flavors of something as simple as an onion is almost a whole new flavor,” Graves said. “It hasn’t set on a shelf, a produce purveyor’s stand, or in a refrigerator.”
Neville met Graves’ father through a produce convention. The two started talking shop and, later, Neville phoned Kari Graves about his idea for a restaurant. Hired in March, Graves now designs daily lunch and Friday dinner specials using seasonal ingredients. The 20-foot-plus outside smoker and grill is fueled with charcoal and cherry wood in the morning. On it, Graves cooks her lunch items on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays; she also smokes pork Boston butts, whole- and half-chickens and ribs for dinner service on Friday nights. She also waits on patrons and accepts preorders for pick up.
“This job is completely different than the atmosphere I had been in before. I can see my son and I don’t work the 16-hours, seven-days-a-week schedule,” Graves said. “There are no rules to what I can or can’t do. I get to shake the hand of the farmer that grew the product I am using.”
Every chef has a food memory that sparked their passion for food. For Graves, it’s chicken curry.
“We were at the Beehive Tavern in Augusta, where I grew up,” Graves said. “I decided I wanted chicken curry and my mom told me I wouldn’t like it. I ate the whole thing.”
Graves makes her creations now, which include items not on the menu, such as canned pickles and onions. Graves and Neville have been collaborating with a Kentucky Proud processing plant in Jackson for Capstone’s own barbecue sauce, which will be made from Graves own recipe and Capstone’s locally sourced products.
For more information about Capstone Produce visit their Facebook page, the website at www.capstoneproducemarket.com, or call (502) 532-7045.
The Frozen Cow
Kris and Robbie Malin thought it was only natural to get into another family-friendly business after their success with Backyard Bounce, a company that rents inflatable attractions for parties.
So, when the location for their new store, The Frozen Cow, became available, they went for it. Robbie Malin credits manager Justin Richardson with the name and website designer Chase Coply for drawing the frozen-cow mascot.
“We may go year-round,” he said. “It was just an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
The Frozen Cow offers hand-dipped ice creams, banana floats and the usual suspects of ice-cream desserts. But the Pendleton restaurant offers patrons much more than plain old hamburgers or fried pickles.
Richardson said it is just as much a place for parents as it is children.
“On kids’ night, we have a $1 cone for the kids with giant slides, bounce houses and water slides,” Richardson said. “It helps parents not spend a fortune and give children something fun to do that isn’t far away.”
The Frozen Cow also hosts a karaoke night with a stage, and plans on hosting movie nights and other family events.
“We have an inflatable movie screen,” Richardson said. “We want to get people in the community to come here and hang out.”
The Frozen Cow also offers discounts to senior citizens and anyone in the armed services, emergency medical services or law enforcement who come in wearing their uniforms.
For more information about the Frozen Cow or their specials visit the website at www.frozencow.net or call (502) 743-0020.
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