Cassville's downtown steakhouse restaurant, The Rib, was sold by Skip and Kathy White to Bill and Shirley Lay and Darrell and Danielle Norvelle on Dec. 26, 2006.
"Diners who visit The Rib know that everything works well in the restaurant now," said Shirley Lay. "We saw that the restaurant had tremendous potential, and we think we are just going to help it keep getting better."
Shirley Lay, who is originally from Barry County, moved to San Diego, Calif., around 25 years ago. While in California, she met her husband, Bill, who owns, operates and sets up contact lens manufacturing companies.
"My family is here in Cassville," said Shirley Lay. "We've been traveling back and forth for several years, and I decided I was ready to move back. Bill said he would need to find me something to do, so we decided the restaurant would be a wonderful opportunity."
Each time the Lays visited Cassville, they dined at The Rib and eventually fell in love with the restaurant.
"The kitchen is run so well, and the food is delicious," said Shirley Lay. "I also really like the ambience and decor."
As the Lays take possession of the restaurant, they don't foresee any major renovations for the building, but they do plan to upgrade the restaurant by extending dining hours and opening for Sunday brunch.
"We will focus on customer service by staying on the floor with the staff and customers," said Shirley Lay. "We want to be out here so we can talk to the people and hear their comments and suggestions."
With several years of restaurant experience that ranges from wait staff to floor management, Shirley Lay is looking forward to working with The Rib's current restaurant staff and serving Barry County diners.
"We want to thank the community for all of the support we've received already," said Shirley Lay. "People have come by just to introduce themselves and say hello and we really appreciate it."
The Lays will own and operate The Rib with Shirley's son-in-law and daughter, Darrell and Danielle Norvelle, who have around 12 years of combined restaurant experience. Danielle Norvelle will specialize in catering at The Rib.
The Rib is currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. The restaurant opens at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday afternoons and remains open until its last customer has been served.
"We will look at opening at 11 a.m. and keeping the restaurant open throughout the afternoon hours," said Shirley Lay. "We also plan to look at offering lunch on Mondays, but we will wait to see what kind of suggestions and comments we get from our customers."
Restaurant diners are asked to fill out a short questionnaire when visiting The Rib in order to give the Lays feedback, comments and suggestions about the restaurant. Shirley and Bill Lay also welcome phone calls and face-to-face comments from customers.
"We want to focus on our service level and become more community oriented," said Shirley Lay. "Whatever the community needs from us, we hope to provide."
The Lays purchased The Rib from Skip and Kathy White, who owned the restaurant for the last seven years.
"In 2000, after we sold our interest in the funeral home, we didn't want to leave Cassville because this is our home," said SkipWhite. "Kathy and I thought we might be able to make The Rib a successful restaurant so we purchased it."
Through The Rib, the Whites worked to offer Cassville a local family-oriented, steakhouse-style restaurant.
"We took a lot of pride in the restaurant," said Skip White. "We really enjoyed hearing people say they enjoyed the food and service. That was a big deal to us and we worked to offer a nice place for the Cassville community.
"A restaurant can't be successful without a good staff and customers that keep coming back to you though," said Skip White. "Our main staff stayed with us for a long time, and we had great customers who spent every weekend with us for seven years."
The Rib's customer base grew to include diners from Monett, Purdy, the western portion of Barry County, Shell Knob and Eagle Rock, said Skip White.
"We got to know a lot of our customers on a real personal basis and they became like family," said Skip White. "We really enjoyed the families that came into the restaurant with their children."
Last year, after completing the White Funeral Home, Skip and Kathy White decided it was time to devote all of their time to their new business.
"We really missed the funeral business," said Skip White. "We feel we found the right people who really wanted the restaurant and we needed to devote our time to the funeral home and the families we serve here.
"Barry County has been really good to us," said Skip White. "We have a lot of friends and family here. Cassville will always be our home."
White Funeral Home, which was completed in July of 2006, offers full traditional and cremation funeral services and and pet cremation services at its location on Old Sale Barn Road.