AUTHOR: MORRIS

HED:Old West Restaurant

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

If you're a fan of the Old West, then perhaps you should try the Old West Restaurant Fish and Steak in Tupelo.

From a buggy in front to a little "Happy Trails" horseshoe hanging over one of the doors, this is definitely a theme restaurant.

"I try to find pieces that other people don't have in their restaurants," said Wayne Holmes, who owns the eatery with his wife, Edith.

"We may go to a flea market and look and never find anything," Wayne added. "Then again, we could spend all kinds of money."

Long on experience

The restaurant has been open a year, but the task of decorating continues. Wayne is currently renovating in order to provide a private dining area which will feature an aged cypress fence as well as a goodly supply of western gear.

"I just have gobs of antiques I'm going to mount on the walls," he said. "I don't know what I like better - cooking or the carpentry."

As far as the cooking is concerned, Wayne has been at it for a while. The co-owner of Omar's Ranch House in Tupelo, he started his restaurant career at The Natchez Trace Inn when he was 15 years old.

"I was a cook in the Army," said Wayne, who also operated a kitchen and lunch line at a Verona factory for about 13 years.

The Old West Restaurant specializes in steaks, barbecue and catfish.

"We marinate and hand-cut most of our steaks," Wayne said.

Currently, the barbecue is prepared at Omar's Ranch House and shipped over to the Old West. Wayne said if demand improves, he'll probably install a cooker at Old West's Turner Drive location.

Testimonials

The restaurant features a Sunday lunch buffet from 11 to 2 p.m., Edith said. In addition to homestyle meat dishes and vegetables, the buffet regularly includes three desserts.

"We fix things like banana pudding, peach cobbler, chocolate cake or punch bowl cake," Edith said. "We alternate them from week to week to give variety."

Brenda Bruce said her family can attest to Old West's quality. Her husband and three kids visit the eatery on a regular basis.

"We just like the home cooking," she said.

Sheila Weston boasted over the country meals.

"It's more like home cooking than what we can get at home, usually," Weston said.

Glen and Penny Brown have been longtime customers at Omar's and now regularly dine at the Old West.

"The desserts are my favorite part," Glen Brown said.

Wayne said the restaurant has a steady supply of regular customers, but business has been slow to grow since the Old West opened in August 1996.

"It's so far out in the country, it takes a while for people to hear about us," Wayne said. "It took us a while before people started coming to Omar's."

As more customers find their way to the Old West, the Holmes' said they hope to increase the restaurant's hours to include Wednesday and Thursday. It's currently open from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as during the Sunday lunch buffet.

Atmosphere

The Old West Restaurant Fish and Steak features a feast for the eyes and the belly.

People visiting the Old West have their choice between the Indian Room and the Cowboy Room. Wayne named the rooms after the murals painted in each room by Tracy White of Pontotoc.

A meat grinder used by Wayne's father and a wooden bowl Wayne's grandmother used to make biscuits are included in the vast antique collection. There's also an old wooden washing machine that Wayne doesn't mind demonstrating.

"I've been gathering antiques for 20 years or so," said Wayne, adding that the process of gathering continues.

- What: Old West Restaurant Fish and Steak

- Where: 574 Turner Drive

- Hours: Friday and Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

- Menu: Steaks include 12-ounce ribeye ($10.95), 8-ounce ribeye ($7.95), 10-ounce T-bone ($6.95) and hamburger steak ($6.95). Barbecue selections include the barbecue plate ($5.99), 1/4 rack rib plate ($5.99) and 1/2 rack rib plate ($7.95). Chicken strips ($5.95) and charbroiled mesquite chicken ($6.99) are also available.

- Fish selections include all-you-can-eat whole catfish ($8.95), two whole catfish ($7.95), one whole catfish ($5.95), two catfish filets ($7.49) and grilled fish fillet ($7.49). Fried butterfly shrimp ($6.99) and combination plate with one fish fillet and three jumbo shrimp ($7.49) round out the seafood menu.

- The Sunday lunch buffet ($5.95) is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features homestyle favorites like fried chicken, meatloaf and chicken and dumplings as well as a selection of vegetables and desserts. A salad bar is also available.

- A child's menu is available.

- Miscellaneous info: The Old West also hosts receptions and parties.

- For more information: Call 844-1994.

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