Good food, relaxation key to Coneburg’s success

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Coneburg Inn restaurant and private club has weathered many transitions since Carolyn and Ron Anderson bought it the beginning of 2001.

At various times, patrons enjoyed singing during Karaoke night or tested their skills competing in pool tournaments-all attractions to entice the customer to patronize the establishment.

But the underlying philosophy has always been the same-offer the customer good food and an opportunity to relax after a hard day at work or over the weekend-and hopefully the profits will keep the restaurant open.

“I’m determined not to be a failure-not to have this fail,” Carolyn Anderson said.

“We’ve brought in Texas Hold ‘Em Poker on Saturdays now. We’re trying that to bring in some more money. There’s no cover charge-it doesn’t cost the customer a penny, because that would be gambling.”

Ron works as maintenance supervisor for Hehr Glass In Newton, and Anderson spends many waking hours managing their restaurant in addition to cooking, ordering, shopping and working on the books.

Due to rising costs, a sluggish economy and other business issues, Anderson said she’s concerned if she can stay open after the first of the year. So the call is out to rally behind her, try her restaurant, and keep a Peabody landmark open, she said.

At one time, there were three small communities in the Peabody area-Mayesville, Peabody and Coneburg-before they merged. The restaurant is located in the former city of Coneburg. Before the Andersons purchased Coneburg Inn, it was in the hands of the former owner for about 23 years.

“During that time, it wasn’t a full restaurant in the beginning,” Anderson said. Coneburg currently operates as a divided full-menu restaurant with a long bar connecting the two sides.

The left side, with seating for about 50, is by membership only and includes a large fireplace to warm customers during the cold winter days and an inviting salad bar. The right side seats about 35, including the bar stools, and features a pool table, dart board and jukebox.

The most popular night-drawing the most patrons-is Mexican night on Wednesdays.

On Mondays, one of the two days the restaurant is closed, Anderson prepares the hamburger for her various Mexican dishes featured on Wednesdays.

The biggest seller that night is usually the smothered sanchos covered with homemade pork sauce.

The sancho, a tortilla filled with Anderson’s hamburger mixture, includes lettuce, tomato and cheese-all rolled up together and then smothered with pork sauce. Some customers opt for a topping of cheese sauce instead of the pork, and Anderson said she’s glad to accommodate them.

In addition to the traditional chips and salsa, Anderson offers such taste tempters as super nachos, taco burgers, burritos and chicken and beef enchiladas.

“And we have our Coneburg Special with pork or beef,” Anderson said. “That’s a hard tortilla shell with a layer of beans, pork or hamburger, then lettuce, tomatoes and cheese on top. The combo is practically the same thing, but we have the tortilla shell, the beans and the hamburger. Then we add the lettuce, cheese and a dip of pork sauce over the top.”

Thursdays is all-you-can-eat fried-chicken night. The deep-fat fried chicken comes with mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable, a dinner roll and the salad bar.

“I’ve been told we have the best salad bar in Marion County,” Anderson said. “We keep it fresh.”

But the Thursday-night special is not complete without ending the meal with one of Anderson’s homemade desserts.

The list of possibilities includes such tempting sweets as Australian cheesecake, date pudding topped with whipped cream, cherry or apple cobbler, chocolate pie or applesauce cake.

Weekend specials are available on Friday and Saturday. During the opening weekend of pheasant-hunting season in November, Anderson offered mountain oysters as her special. But other specials include regular menu items at a reduced price, meat loaf or maybe smoked pork chops.

The grill is open on Sundays when the dinner meals are not available. But patrons can enjoy all the sandwiches on the regular menu, side orders and baskets.

Anderson relies on a total of five employees, including cook Art Glenn.

“Art’s been with us since we’ve opened, and he was with the former owner for about seven years,” Anderson said. “Every time the grill’s open, I back him up. Then of course Wednesday night, I’m in the kitchen, too.”

To help cooks during the busy holiday season, Anderson graciously offered to share some of her favorite recipes.

Mexican Casserole

1 1/2 Lbs. ground beef, browned

1 can mushroom soup

1 can cream-of-chicken soup

1 can green chilies

1 can enchilada sauce

1 C. milk

1 package taco-flavored Doritos

grated cheese

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Doritos on bottom of casserole dish. Place mixed ingredients on top, and top all with grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.

Bean Salad

Salad:

1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans

1 (16 ounce) can green beans

1 (16 ounce) can wax beans

1 (16 ounce) can corn

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 C. red pepper, chopped

1/2 C. ripe olives

1/2 C. green onions, chopped

Chopped celery to taste

Drain canned vegetables and combine all in large bowl.

Sauce:

1 C. sugar

1 C. vinegar

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. prepared mustard

1/4 tsp salt

Combine sauce ingredients, and pour over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Lemon-Lime Refrigerator Cake

Cake:

1 (3 ounce) package lime Jell-O

3/4 C. boiling water

1.2 C. cold water

1 cake mix

Mix cake as directed on box, and bake as directed in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Add cold water, and set aside at room temperature.

Cool cake a few minutes. Poke deep holes in top of cake, about 1 inch apart. Pour prepared Jell-O in the holes, and refrigerate cake at this point.

Topping:

1 envelope dry Dream Whip

1 (3 3/4 ounce ) package lemon instant pudding mix

1 1/2 C. cold milk

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

In a deep bowl, whip all ingredients until stiff, about five to eight minutes, on high with electric mixer. Frost the cake with the whipped topping. Cake must be stored in the refrigerator.

The regular menu includes the ever-popular chicken-fried steak. It’s served with a vegetable, choice of potato, Texas toast or a dinner roll.

The biggest sellers on the children’s menu are the chicken strips and the mini corn dogs. But the most unusual item is the smiley french fries.

“They’re actually coated mashed potatoes with two holes for the eyes and a smiley mouth,” Anderson said. “I even have adults coming in and ordering the smiley french fries.”

Although the restaurant is open five days a week, Anderson said she usually puts in between 100 and 112 hours every week.

“I’m up here seven days a week,” she said. “Some days, I can get by with 10 hours a day but other days, it’s 16 hours.”

Since the restaurant was first purchased, the bathrooms have been remodeled, the ceiling washed, and the kitchen and the walls have been cleaned to meet Anderson’s standards.

“I’ve pulled out the grill, dismantled it, degreased it and cleaned it and really scrubbed the walls and floors,” she said about her kitchen area.

Looking into the future, Anderson said she looks forward to seeing her regular customers and hopes more people take the time to stop by and enjoy the food at her restaurant.

“I don’t think they’ll have any complaints once they try us,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, they’ll find the food and service are good, and they’ll keep coming back.

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