Lisa Pollard doesn’t own horses or cattle. She’s never rounded up a herd to bring them into the barn at the end of the day. But her Country Cafe, at a new location in Lockeford, is decked out in cowboy kitsch. The walls are adorned with wooden squares burned by local rancher’s brands, and photographs of rodeos from years gone by.
“We are in cowboy country here, with all these farmers and ranchers,” she said. “It’s their restaurant. They bring in stuff, and I put it up on the walls.”
It’s a comfortable atmosphere for her dedicated customers, some of whom come in for breakfast nearly every morning, said Pollard.
Pollard operated her cozy corner cafe right off Highway 88 for years with one thought in the back of her mind.
“I knew we’d have to expand sometime. I’ve known it for a few years,” she said. “But I thought, you know, we’ll hang on. We got this.”
But customers mentioned a lack of parking, and a crowded look to the restaurant that made them unsure if a table was available. It was time to make a change.
In late December, Pollard made the move just down the road where ** used to be. The new location is 7,500 square feet, a major upgrade from the 1,700 square feet of space in the old cafe. Now, Pollard’s kitchen is nearly the size of the entire former restaurant.
Along with a larger dining room and expanded kitchen, the Country Cafe now features a banquet room for events of 85 to 100 guests. Once the liquor license is approved, the bar on the east side of the restaurant will be converted into the C+C Saloon.
The grill and stovetop, both seasoned with the traditional flavors of Country Cafe’s menu, came to the new location.
There are no changes to the menu.
“People asked me about that,” said Pollard. “For ten years, this menu has worked for me. It got me here, into a bigger place.”
The menu is full of hearty comfort food. Angus beef burgers, pork chops and chicken fried steak served all day.
For breakfast, try the biscuits and gravy, country sausage, or the made-from-scratch waffles topped with peanut butter and syrup.
The transition was not without growing pains. The Lockeford community is known for their support of their friends and neighbors, so Pollard was overrun with customers when the crowds rolled in on Jan. 6.
“It’s a great problem to have, but of course we were so busy for days,” she said.
That loyalty also flows into the wait staff. One seven-year-old girl told Pollard she wanted to waitress for her when she grew up. Now, ten years later, the 17-year -old is waiting tables and delivering meals.
Plus, Pollard’s mother, Fern Leonardini, works as a hostess two nights a week.
“I want people to feel like they’re sitting in a friend’s kitchen, enjoying a meal,” said Pollard.