1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
By Rachel Kiser
If there’s any lesson to learn from T’s Redneck Steakhouse in Lebanon, it’s that redneck is anything but a derogatory term. Instead, it’s a lifestyle that should be embraced and heralded.
A plaque on the wall reads: “Redneck: It’s a noun used to describe good ol’ boys and gals who love cold beer, hot romance, fast cars, slow dancing, barbecue, long kisses, country music, pick-up trucks, good fishing, America, mom, apple pie, and are proud to defend any of ’em!”
Owner Tina Fears-Akers points to this plaque as her guiding philosophy for running this restaurant.
“We’re not white table top, we don’t do drizzle or have frou-frou food,” Tina says. “We have big, full, healthy meals. I’ve had nobody tell me our helpings are too small.”
Tina opened the restaurant five years ago, making the leap from managing three Burger Kings to owning her own eatery. She saw a need for a sit-down restaurant that wasn’t a chain in Lebanon, a town “loaded with fast-food restaurants.” Plus, the community didn’t have a steak house or a barbecue joint at the time.
“I really enjoyed the idea of being able to do our own thing, not having someone dictate like in the corporate world,” Tina says. “Here, our customers dictate what we are going to do. Most of our ideas come from them.”
Free from corporate oversight, Tina has the opportunity to make meals from scratch. Her blue cheese dressing has only seven ingredients and is made fresh on a regular basis, whereas the typical vat variety has 27 ingredients to prolong its shelf life, Tina says. T’s smokes its own meats, makes its own barbecue sauce, and mushrooms are breaded right in the kitchen. Sweet potato fries are dressed up in a cinnamon-pear glaze, and the succulent homemade desserts are much more than defrosted cakes.
This do-it-yourself attitude also allows Tina to put her own spin on other steak house staples. Take, for instance, The Ex burger, which starts out on a sweet note with Thousand Island dressing smothered on top of a juicy patty. In the end, though, the burger burns you with a mess of jalapenos stuffed inside.
Nachos are transformed when she tops them with barbecue pork, and her cream cheese corn entices many taste buds.
Perhaps her most redneck endeavor to date is the addition of a distillery in the restaurant.
“We’re that redneck steak house; that was my whole thing,” Tina says. “How redneck do you get besides making your own moonshine?”
There’s a big picture window so customers can see the still and watch Tina and her crew hand bottle the moonshine.
Moontinis, moonaritas and moonpicks all find their way onto the restaurant’s drink menu, a simple reminder that being a redneck ain’t so bad.
This story originally ran in the October/November 2012 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.