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‘Raised Right’

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 LIKE a 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.

Food and Drink
August 2006

Published by Schofield Media Ltd. Tel: 312.236.4090 Fax: 312.236.4266 On behalf of Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill © 2006 Schofield Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

Click here to print the original article from Food and Drink Magazine.  (August 2006)


...more Whiskey Creek headlines

(August 24, 2009) KOKOMO, IN — Whiskey Creek welcomes ‘guests’ - Restaurant opens as industry continues to face challenges.   Two door greeters thanked Jim and Candace Riley as they left Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill Monday afternoon. 
(March 25, 2009) KEARNEY, NE — Whiskey Creek Franchise Systems based in Kearney, Nebraska is proud to announce that it has signed a multi-unit franchise agreement with DAKALT, LLC in March of 2009, calling for a minimum of three Whiskey Creek restaurants to be opened over a five year period in Indiana.  The first restaurant in the agreement is set to open in Kokomo, Indiana in August of 2009.  
(August 13, 2008) KEARNEY, NE — "RESTAURANT BUSINESS MAGAZINE" THE FUTURE 50 (2008).  Whiskey Creek® Wood Fire Grill checks in at #28  There’s not a lot of positive buzz out there right now, but percolating under all the doom and gloom is clear evidence that you just can’t keep a good concept down or clip the industry’s entrepreneurial wings. The Future 50, identified by Technomic, Inc. as the fastest growing chains with sales between $25 million and $50 million, includes 32 that defied the odds to grow sales by 20 percent or more in 2007. Of those, a dozen hit 40 percent or higher sales growth. As a group, they’re hot, they’re nimble and they’ve got what many of their large competitors don’t right now—momentum.  
(February 15, 2008) DEERFIELD BEACH, FL — "Focus on America" to feature Whiskey Creek® Wood Fire Grill  Platinum Productions TV is pleased to announce that Whiskey Creek® Wood Fire Grill will be featured on its innovative, educational television series, Focus on America.  The organization will be showcased in a segment on “Be Your Own Boss” as part of the “Americas Best Franchise Opportunities” series  

Heidi Johnson
Franchise Administrator
email: heidi@whiskeycreek.com

Whiskey Creek Franchise Systems, LLC
Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill

124 W. 25th Suite C2
Kearney, NE 68847
(308) 234-2757

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