Limbaugh's restaurant to reboot following feedback with new menu and more

by Charles Gerian

Limbaugh’s Great American foods is getting a reboot.

The restaurant opened on Doolin Avenue in March after almost a year of anticipation, and the initial reaction was hopeful, with many excited about the prospect of a new eatery in a town mostly dominated by chain-owned establishments.

However, a post created in the Blackwell Community Talk Facebook group a few weeks ago asked for customers’ opinions on the restaurant, and customers reached the boiling point. Through the hundreds of comments, a pattern emerged: The restaurant was too expensive, and the food was a mixed bag.

Owner Larry Limbaugh heard it all, and he’s changing everything about the restaurant ahead of a re-opening Friday, he said.

“To put it best, the opening was trial, error, and ‘yikes,’” he said during a phone interview Monday. “We had grand plans. I’ll be the first to admit that, and it came from an honest place. I really do love Blackwell, and I really do want to do right by the community here.

“Even before the Facebook post blew up, we were staging a major revamp for the restaurant. We heard the complaints, and we immediately started working on what to do about that.”

The reboot isn’t just a simple menu change with a few more cost-effective specials.

“We’re pausing operations, taking our time, catching our breath,” he said. “From the get-go, we knew we had problems, and then it became a case of, ‘We’ll handle that next week.’ Then next week’s problems became the next week’s, and the week after, and so on.

“I care about Blackwell. I want the people here to have what they want, to get what they ask for.”

To start, Limbaugh’s menu has been drastically retooled along with the restaurant’s concept as a whole.

“Initially, I wanted to do Limbaugh’s as a buffet restaurant, similar to Western Sizzlin or Golden Corral – something that was buffet-dominated but had other items that those who wanted to spend the extra dollar to order, say, a steak or prime rib and a glass of whiskey, could do that,” he said.

“We started with this wide menu, and the grand scheme was family recipes and everything that comes with ‘from-scratch’ meals. Blackwell said, very plainly, ‘We don’t want to pay for that. We can’t pay for that.’ So, I poured over our invoices. I listened to every single person that talked to us. I read all of the comments ... and we looked at our menu, saw what worked, what didn’t, and we think the change is not only going to benefit us, but benefit the customer, which of course is the most important thing.”

Limbaugh said the staff reworked the menu and narrowed it down to one page, making its remaining offerings better. Prices have been lowered as well.

“We’re not trying to have, you know, the fancy salmon and all of that, like different kind of shrimps or this and that,” he said. “We’re focusing on what people liked, what we can do really good: the comfort foods, the buffets, a small seafood selection, meatloaf, lasagnas, items like that.”

On Easter weekend, Limbaugh’s hosted its first specialty buffet, which Limbaugh said went off without a hitch and brought in positive feedback.

“The bar, we’re changing as well,” he said. “It was confusing for the people taking the orders and doing the orders, and I think we’ve improved that tremendously as well. I’d say now we’re really aiming to be Golden Corral but with a bar.”

The beef is locally sourced, and Limbaugh has found alternatives to homemade items, which had added to wait times and made preparing orders difficult.

“I worked extensively with supplies and found items that are even better than what we were making,” he said. “The prep time is lowered, the cost for us is lowered, and the cost for the customers is lowered as well.”

To prepare for the reboot, Limbaugh’s said employees worked in pairs, alternating roles and playing various scenarios.

“We had waitresses in the kitchen, cooks at the tables,” he said. “We wanted everyone to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. And they loved it. They all were thankful for that, being able to see all of these parts that make a whole, essentially.”

Starting this month, Limbaugh’s is kicking off a program called Community Mondays, which will see the restaurant offer specials for community fundraising events and charities.

The restaurant will be raising money for Blackwell High School Wrestlers to get their state championship rings.

“We will have the wrestlers, coaches, and boosters busing tables, getting refills, and having a fun time with the customers and, in doing that, we’re donating 15% of whatever money comes through that door that day – and the Limbaugh family will be matching whatever is raised to the dollar,” Limbaugh said. “We want these kids to have the rings that they worked so hard for, that they made their town proud for.

“It also coincides with graduation, so we’ll have families coming to town, and we’ll have people that just want to come and see what this event is all about. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

After that, Limbaugh’s will be benefiting Kara’s Game.

Limbaugh’s will feature live entertainment beginning Friday with a musical guest, Brady Nichols. This will be a tradition for Fridays or Saturdays and feature dollar-beers and free wings.

“We want to have something that Blackwell can be proud of, and that we can, too,” Limbaugh said.

The restaurant will be operating the concession stand for the Blackwell Flycatchers baseball team during its season this year.

“We want people who gave us a try and weren’t satisfied to come back and try us again, and we will greet them with a smile,” Limbaugh said. “We want to show that this is a completely new experience.”