Monday, April 4, 2011
The Thirsty Hog Saloon, a bar and restaurant, has opened about 2 miles south of Fulton on Old Highway 54, an access road next to U.S. 54.
The Thirsty Hog Saloon is located in a building occupied previously by the former Ol’ Barn Restaurant.
Owner Mike Bell and his wife Julie say they lived in Hawaii for about 20 years where they operated a successful bar and restaurant for several years before moving to Fulton about five years ago. “I do time-share condo renovation work for large companies. I also have done construction work in Branson but most of my construction work has been in Hawaii. I just completed a big job in Hawaii about five weeks ago. I got out just in time before the tsunami hit in Hawaii. The tsunami did a lot of damage in Hawaii, but it was overshadowed by the destruction in Japan,” Bell said.
“I’m still a general contractor. But with the construction economy slowing down, we decided to venture back into the restaurant and bar business,” Bell said.
“After Fulton passed a smoking ban, I thought it would be a good idea to open a bar and restaurant just outside of Fulton,” Bell said. “We also have a smoke-free dining room,” Bell said.
The bar and restaurant opened Wednesday. “We are a full-service bar out in the county and we are open seven days a week. For that reason we plan to do more food business than bar business,” Bell said.
Bell said he got the idea for the name of the restaurant-bar from his nephew who attends college in Connecticut. His nephew told him about an East Coast bar named the Thirsty Hog Roadhouse. “I decided to change it to Thirsty Hog Saloon,” Bell said.
Bell loves motorcycles and race cars. He owns several. The bar is decorated with a motorcycle and car racing theme. A blue dragster about 20 feet long with huge rear wheels and small front wheels is mounted over the Thirsty Hog bar area. A stuffed monkey hangs by one arm from the dragster. The dragster was given to Bell by Mike Teel of Callaway County, who was injured in a racing accident and wanted to get rid of the dragster.
“I enjoy riding a motorcycle. We are going to have special events at the Thirsty Hog such as poker runs. But this business will not have any of the negative images associated with biker bars,” Bell said. Motorcyclists are welcome but Bell said the business will continue to have a family atmosphere and offer a smoke-free dining room area.
Live entertainment is planned only for special events, such as motorcycle poker runs.
A sound system, big screen television and a pool table also are available.
“We have an area upstairs that can be used for overflow crowds or it is available for special events,” Bell said.
The restaurant seats about 100 people with a large new patio at the rear.
Open seven days a week for lunch at 11 a.m., the Thirsty Hog Saloon will be open as long as business remains until as late as 1:30 a.m., Bell said.
“We create all of our food here. We don’t buy any portioned food. We hand-bread our famous tenderloins and fish. We also cut our own steaks. We brought some cooking techniques from Hawaii that aren’t seen much around here,” Bell said.
Food includes mainly sandwich baskets with French fries or onion rings. Hamburgers are half-pound Angus beef with a variety of cheeses, bleu cheese, peppers and bacon.
One featured sandwich is a lightly breaded UFO pork tenderloin sandwich, so named because it’s as large as a dinner plate. Other sandwiches include grinders, smoked turkey, Philly cheese steak, French dip, New York steak sandwich, fish sandwich, and classic BLTs. Baskets of shrimp, catfish strips and chicken strips also are available.