After around 35 years of working in the food industry, Bill and Bobbie Askew have branched out to open their own restaurant.
Located at 134 S. Highway 69 in the building which formerly housed Twisters,  the Lightning Creek Restaurant and Bar opened last week.
“We bought  it in December and then we reworked the building and opened the kitchen,” said Mrs. Askew.
The facility still has a bar area and one of the largest dance floors in the area with disco lights. Behind that is the restaurant area.
“This was all open before, but my son, Chris Mitchell, built a panel which separates the bar from the restaurant, though it can be raised to  open up the space if we want,” Mrs. Askew said. “There was all this dark wood paneling, and we whitewashed some of it.”
There’s also a new entrance leading directly to the restaurant.
“Some people just don’t want to walk through a bar to get to the dining room,” she said.
The dining area includes a mural done by Gary Lofts, Northeast High School art teacher, on the south area. It portrays a barn with several cats, then more cats fishing in a stream.
“We’re both cat people,” Mrs. Askew said.
Melissa York of Peddler’s Junction Flea Market, Crestline, created a series  glass panels that hang between the tables against each wall. Completing the decor are items of local history, many collected by her son. Included are some molds that were created by F.O. Doty for sand casting.
“One is for an ore cart wheel, and another for a train wheel,” Mitchell said.
“Then there are movie reels from the old Cozy Theatre in Pittsburg.”
The Cozy was opened in 1930 at 213 N. Broadway and burned down in 1984.
There are several signs as well.
“My father worked for Standard Oil, so we have a Standard Oil sign,” Mrs. Askew said. “Dr. W.W. Ogborn, veterinarian who owned the Town and Country Animal Hospital,  was my uncle, so we have his sign here.”
Another sign is for Ozark Wonder Cave, near Noel, Mo.
“I used to go there when I was a kid,” Mitchell said.  “About seven years ago we went there canoeing and saw it in a ditch. We came back a few weeks later and it was still there. The county had cut the weeds around it. I picked it up and brought it home.”
He said that many of the items on the walls had stories connected with them.
“A lot of people think this is trash, but to some it’s treasure,” Mitchell said.
Of course, there’s more to a restaurant than a pleasing atmosphere.
“After 35 years in the business we went to a lot of restaurants to see what people in this area eat on a regular basis,” said Askew. “When you go on vacation you’re more likely to try new things, but at home you don’t.”
He and his wife had already had a lot of local experience. Askew had worked at Crestwood Country Club for 10 years and for the last 15  years was chef and manager for the country club at Nevada, Mo. Mrs. Askew also previously worked at Crestwood,  and was employed by Sodexo at Pittsburg State University for 10 years.
“I did all the baking for the coffee shop downstairs in the Overman Student Center,” she said.
Mrs. Askew said that, in addition to her formal culinary training, she comes from a family that had wonderful cooks.
“When I first married, I could pop popcorn, open a can of soup and maybe make a toasted cheese sandwich,” she said. “But I knew I had to learn to cook.”
Their restaurant menu includes some standard local favorites, including chicken fried steak, baby back ribs and pulled pork.
“The restaurant came with a huge smoker, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do some smoking,” Askew said.
There are also a few distinctive things of their own, including Mrs. Askew’s cashew chicken, Dottie’s slaw, named in honor of her mother, and maple glazed salmon. Her husband, who has had traditional French chef training, recently made a sacher torte, a rich moist chocolate cake.
One thing their menu does not include is fried chicken. Askew noted that they’re not so far from the turn-offs for Chicken Mary’s, Chicken Annie’s, Gebhardt’s, etc.
“There’s just no sense in trying to compete with that,” he said.
The restaurant is currently open from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the bar staying open until 2 a.m. Mitchell is bar manager.
“If you’ve a mind to, you can stay after your meal and do some line dancing and drink a few beers,” Askew said.
The bar will have live music, and scheduled Friday is the Kat Niles Band, a country group from Webb City, Mo.
Mrs. Askew said the goal is for Lightning Creek to be family oriented and fun.
“We want people to come here and feel like they’ve had a good, home-cooked meal,” she said.