The year was 2003, it was a Thursday, you picked up your phone, likely your landline, and dialed 243-5311. If it was before 3pm, Jimmy or Bob probably answered. Lucky for you there were still a few spots left for the 7 p.m. Saturday night reservation you’d hoped to secure.
The Feedlot in Atlantic was the place to go for, well everything. A night out with your family, a birthday celebration, your regular weekly friends group dinner (I’m looking at you Thursday night Audubon crew), your daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner, or your work’s Christmas party - they could handle it all. Correction - they mastered it all.
At the age of 18 years old Bart Peppers snagged his first bartending job and that decision would come to be a blessing to thousands of people over the past 35 years. This weekend ends the long-standing era of enjoying the most delicious prime rib, steak, broasted chicken, pasta, and well really anything prepared by the hands and heart of Bart and Beth Peppers and their staff.
With a full weekend staff of approximately 10-12 people they worked tirelessly to build a business that ran like a well-oiled machine, all while raising kids, contributing to their community, and offering first jobs to a handful of teenagers, including myself and all my siblings.
It’s where I learned that the hostess of a steakhouse has one of the hardest jobs in the entire place, and if you think that’s wrong you’ve never been a hostess. It’s where my siblings, myself and many others learned that what you do as a job is important, but who you work for - that’s what makes or breaks it all. Bart and Beth were top notch employers. Not only did we all learn the ins and outs of solid restaurant work, including how to perfectly pour a tap beer (adding green olives of course), how to prepare for a party of 4 or a party of 40, but also how to deal with those among us that tend to be slightly difficult out in public, without ruining the experiencing for those of us who know how to be nice!
Life skills were taught and weaved throughout work skills and a friendship of chosen family was the product of it all.
The Feedlot came to Atlantic in 1995. For 18 years it sat on the East side of town, welcoming hundreds of patrons a week. In 2013 Bart and Beth sold the business and building to Jacob Weitzel and The Feedlot became Weitzel's overnight. The Feedlot restaurant experience is one often talked about with longing and fondness from so many.
After a brief pause in restaurant ownership, Bart and Beth were approached by Terri and Mike Thielen inquiring if they’d be interested in taking over Big T’s in Brayton. Out of that conversation The Barn Burner emerged. Most of us call it The Feedlot 2.0, because it is a slightly condensed version of the menu and an equally as stellar experience that’d we’d come to be so fond of. Pick any given night and The Barn Burner is bustling with locals and those traveling for a taste of the ever-famous onion rings and homemade ranch!
In preparation for this article, I had a chance to talk with Bart and Beth’s girls. Bart and Beth are humble and kind and didn’t want a lot of fuss over the ending of this major chapter in their life. But it feels too special, they are too special, to let them just ride off into the sunset.
Bart and Beth’s girls reiterated how much they wanted to say thank you. “Thank you for the endless hours working tirelessly while supporting all 5 of us kids. They made my life a walking breeze when they might have felt like they were walking on thin ice. To wrap it up altogether I’m just very thankful for every little thing they’ve done for me that might go unnoticed” says youngest daughter Sophia.
Daughter Maddy shares, “They've been doing it for so long, I'm ready for them to have a little normalcy. Especially with my brother being engaged and hopefully grandkids soon! We've been so lucky to be a part of it and we're also still pretty lucky because they can cook for us whenever!” Can’t say I’m not jealous of that fact!!
Their oldest daughter and child Courtney shares a sentiment I think we can all get behind, sad as we might be, “Enjoy your new found freedom!”
And to that we say, “CHEERS! Cheers to all you’ve accomplished. Cheers to serving thousands over the years. Cheers to a job well done! Enjoy this next chapter in your life. You more than deserve it. Who knows, maybe now you’ll have time to play some more scrabble! To Bart and Beth!!”
This weekend boasts the final days The Barn Burner is open to the public.