Dorsey Slaughter, a long-time chef at Colby’s Fine Food and Spirits, is approaching 33 years with the restaurant. Slaughter reminisced about times when the riverfront was but a dot on a map, parking was scarce, and many neighboring businesses were closing their doors or moving shop.
While downtown has evolved drastically during his tenure, Slaughter’s kitchen creations remain a constant for downtown Owensboro. He attributes his longevity to the culture created by owners Colby and Carole MacQuarrie and the community’s support.
“My relationship with the MacQuarries has been beautiful. When I was hired on, they were a young family; I’ve been able to watch their kids grow up,” Slaughter said. “You can’t beat our service, food, and the people I get to work with every day. I’m just blessed to be surrounded by good people.”
Slaughter said he has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
“[I’m going to stay with it] until he closes the doors, every day, morning and night,” Slaughter said.
Colby’s is presently open Tuesday through Saturday, and you can find Slaughter there each day as early as 9 in the morning beginning his kitchen prep. He typically finishes his shift around 9:30, pouring his heart and soul into each dish he serves.
Slaughter added that many Colby’s loyalists have graced the restaurant as long as he has.
“We have a clientele that’s been coming in here since maybe even before I started, and they still remember my first days working here,” he said. “These customers are wonderful. They never stop coming, every Friday — well, every day really.”
Slaughter remembers times when there were only a few banks, The Famous Bistro down the road, the American Bounty, and Colby’s. He said the revitalization of Smothers Park and the revolution of the downtown landscape has increased business, and he’s always excited to see new faces.
Slaughter’s first job was in the kitchen at the Western Sizzler, but it wasn’t until he transitioned to Colby’s that he truly began to hone in on his skills. The support of his late wife, three children, and present wife motivates him to keep going.
“I’ve always just wanted my kids to see how hard I work and try to take care of them all these years and get them through college,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful experience to watch them grow and be upstanding community members.”
The MacQuarries added that Slaughter is like a second son to them and that he’s remained committed during the many phases of the restaurant industry.
“He has been steady through the whole growth process with us, from opening restaurants in Henderson and Louisville to closing restaurants,” Carole MacQuarrie said. “He’s grown; he started as prep, went to salads, and now, he can do it all.”
She said it’s comforting to have Slaughter by their side, adding that he’s steady even though there are likely days that he would prefer to leave. She said his level of commitment is second only to his smile.
“He came with us, stayed with us, and never left us,” MacQuarrie said. “I think that’s encouraging to our staff. He’s a special person, and he and his family are very special to us.”