Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill says it finds areas underserved by national restaurant chains and provides quality food at reasonable prices in a distinctive atmosphere.
MANY PEOPLE AGREE THAT THERE’S NOTHING IN THE WORLD LIKEa good steak, and Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill probably would agree. That’s why the steakhouse chain pays close attention to the quality of the meat it serves and sees that all of its beef is raised right. With a focus on choosing the right ranchers – who are expected to live up to the company’s high standards in the treatment of both their animals and the environment – Whiskey Creek says customers can have a casual dining experience unlike any other.
The company says it sets itself apart in the market by finding areas underserved by national restaurant chains and providing families in those areas with quality food at reasonable prices in a distinctive atmosphere.
Whiskey Creek has 11 locations in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Florida. The concept originated in Florida in 1995 when restaurateur Larry Terrell opened two restaurants. In 1996, the concept had proved successful enough for a Nebraska-based company, Wild West Inc., to purchase rights to the Whiskey Creek concept and open the first location in the Midwest, in Kearney, Neb. Wild West took control of the two Florida locations in 1997.
Today, the chain is owned by James Gardner, a man with a long history in the restaurant business. He literally worked his way up to the top of the business, beginning his career as an hourly worker in the Country Kitchen chain of family restaurants in the early 1970s.
In 1976, at the age of 19, Gardner became a franchisee for Country Kitchen, and has served on the board of directors of the Nebraska Restaurant Association. Gardner became a stockholder in Wild West in 1996, and by 2001 was the sole owner of the company.
The company says that its strategy is simple, but successful. “The Whiskey Creek restaurant concept serves generous portions of high-quality, moderately priced meals in a casual, family-oriented atmosphere,” the company says.
In an industry where the competition often tries to be everything to everyone, Whiskey Creek says it’s content to focus on one thing and do it well. “Based in the heart of beef country, Whiskey Creek positions itself as the steak expert in its category segment,” the company explains.
Rather than take on the major national restaurant chains head-to-head, Whiskey Creek prefers to open its restaurants in areas that the national chains usually ignore.
The company says this gives it an audience hungry for family dining options.
“[Whiskey Creek] locates its restaurants in smaller, secondary markets and suburban areas that are not currently served by national full-service steakhouse chains,” the company says. “What’s more, Whiskey Creek offers service that the competition in those markets doesn’t.
“Whiskey Creek restaurants are distinguished from other family oriented restaurants in these smaller markets – many of which are cafeteria-style – by their full table service and attentive wait staff, full bar service, distinctive decor and unique wood-fired cooking.”
Whiskey Creek’s menu includes a number of family dining staples, such as burgers and barbecue, but the main focus is on the chain’s wood-fired steaks. The company says to make a good steak, it has to start with paying close attention to how the beef is raised. Whiskey Creek doesn’t leave anything to chance when it comes to its steaks, it claims.
“Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grills serve the finest beef this country has to offer,” the company explains, and that starts with knowing exactly where the beef came from.
“Every steak in a Whiskey Creek comes from cattle that have been tracked since birth,” the company states. The company also says that it keeps a close eye on the people responsible for raising that cattle, as well. Whiskey Creek works to form good relationships between the company and the ranchers who supply it, ensuring that Whiskey Creek always knows that the meat it serves its customers matches its exacting standards.
“We know the family farms where our beef comes from and we work with our producers to ensure that our beef is consistently tender and flavorful.”
Whiskey Creek also insists on making sure the ranchers it turns to are responsible and don’t take shortcuts. “Our cattle only come from farms and ranches that adhere to the highest standards in terms of environmental stewardship and humane animal treatment,” the company says.
“Because at Whiskey Creek, we know that serving the best beef means paying attention to how our producers raise their cattle. At Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill, [customers] can rest assured that the beef we use only comes from cattle that are raised right.”
It adds that it also provides ranchers with a series of production rules that they must follow to “ensure delivery of high-quality, consistent beef.”
Recently, Whiskey Creek unveiled a new design for its restaurants, one that it says enhances the chain’s image and helps it stand out better in the market. The new design uses bolder colors and a ranch motif throughout the dining areas.
One particular design aspect of the restaurants also helps strengthen the bond between the restaurant and the ranchers who supply it.
The bar areas at Whiskey Creek restaurants feature a bar counter top that has been decorated with the brands of ranches that supply it. The company says that this helps ranchers feel a connection to the chain and gives them a sense of ownership in the restaurant that further cements the working relationship between them.