The Briarpatch Restaurant is a staple in Owensboro. For almost 48 years, the restaurant has served the community in the same location and with a lot of the same staff.
Originally one of 10 franchised restaurants, the Owensboro location is the only one still in existence. In the 1970s, Briarpatch restaurants spanned three states and went through a number of corporate ownership changes.
Current owner and operator Pat Buntin started at the Bowling Green, Ky. restaurant before finishing high school and moving to Owensboro. Through the years he worked his way up the ranks as assistant manager, manager and supervisor. In 1987, he and his wife had the opportunity to buy the Owensboro location and eventually became owners.
Buntin said all the other restaurants sold and eventually closed their doors for good.
“But we’re still open,” he said. “We’re the only one that matters. We’ve been here the longest out of the independents — Colby’s The Miller House and Bill’s. We each have own category — our own group of people. But we’re known for the steaks and the salad bar.”
Buntin said he tells the staff if they worry about their corner everything is going to work out.
“Treat people as if they are guests in your home,” he said. “We have a personality that a lot of the chains can’t touch.”
Buntin said another factor that separates them from larger chain restaurants is that everything they serve is made is from scratch.
“We could buy a lot of the things on the salad bar precut and it’d be easier and cheaper but that’s not the way we do business,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of fresh-cut products. Just don’t take shortcuts.”
Buntin said he hopes people keep coming back because of the quality of the food and the quality of the service.
“We’ve got an outstanding staff that cares about the product and the job that they do,” he said. “A lot of our people have been here for many, many years. People recognize that and they comment that its good to see the same faces. There is a lot of turnover in today’s labor market and it’s nice to have the same people wait on customers.”
While he said there are parts of the day he would give away, nothing beats the interaction with the customers and his staff.
For those who have never dined at Briarpatch, Buntin said he would highly encourage everyone to come in and experience the atmosphere and the quality of their product.
“I’m gonna tell you there are cheaper places out there, but that’s just what they are cheaper price and cheaper quality,” he said. “You will only find top quality food and people here.”