WHEATLAND – The restaurant that came about after only two months of planning is off the ground and after a successful soft opening last weekend, the Arena BBQ is set to have its grand opening July 17-19 at The Rafter MB Quarter-horses Arena and Event Center at 210 Sybille Creek Road in Wheatland.
“Cowboy” Myrle Ingle and wife Birgit along with other Platte County families and businesses have been economically challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic that has not only caused sickness in America, but has closed down businesses.
Myrle Ingle who worked in the oil fields the last 10 years, commuting to Texas has seen the elimination of his job. In addition, COVID prohibited rodeo training and social events such as weddings which are just some of the things that the arena and events center were involved in. The restrictions pretty much left the couple scratching their heads as to what to do.
Like most good businesses that either see technology or a lack of supply and demand bring the dark economic clouds, they had to find a way to reinvent themselves and diversify into other areas.
For Myrle Ingle, the doors closing were forcing him to pursue a talent and a passion that he had always possessed, but wasn’t able to afford. In the time that most ventures take to simply research ideas or form committees for think tanks, the Ingles planned, strategized, did research and development, forged and repurposed old equipment and dug into the family recipe box to create a cuisine unlike anything that exists in Wyoming.
“My husband always wanted to cook,” she said. “With the virus and with him losing his job, we decided we’re going to try something new.”
As Birgit was in the kitchen taking orders and preparing plates, she mentioned that she was not doing the cooking, but it was “all on him.”
Opening and running a two-person restaurant is almost an impossibility, and the couple have enlisted help from friends, Robert and Julie Balzan, Linda Michaels and family members. Their youngest son, Chris Ingle was one of the family members enlisted to work.
“I just showed up to eat,” he said. “And my mom said, ‘here, go to work.’ That’s how it normally works.”
Working tirelessly to get things up and running, the help of others has been key toward getting poised and ready for the grand opening.
As for their son, Birgit said with a laugh. “Yes, that’s usually how that works. Whenever Chris comes here he has to work.”
Special recipes and years of cooking have given Myrle Ingle an incredible insight into how the palette responds to combinations of food.
“He has a talent for it,” Birgit said. “He really is just really good at it. I can’t explain it. Even if I make something at home, he’ll even make it look better.”
He not only has a talent to cook, but he has manufactured his own smoker out of a 500 gallon propane tank. With state-of-the-art dynamics, he has figured a way to weld plates and grates into the smoker to bring a moistness and tenderness to the meat due to the aerodynamic flow of the smoke to the chimney.
Almost acting like a steamer and a smoker, the meat on the ribs just about falls off the bone. And the brisket which he smokes for 13 hours has a tenderness that enables you to cut it easily with a plastic knife.
The menu features smoked ribs, brisket, all-beef sausage and homemade sides featuring three types of coleslaw, sausage and rice with beans, green beans with red pepper flakes, bracha beans, “not yo mamma’s macaroni and cheese” and homemade bread.
The BBQ restaurant is meant primarily as a takeout restaurant, but the couple also provides tables outside for those who want to eat there. Eventually, they will have a beer license and will be able to set up a beer garden outside as well.
The soft opening saw over 20 people show up on the first day and one of the patrons from Guernsey, VFW Legion Rider, Nick Schwab said, “Smoked meat in a horse arena. Who can pass that up?”
Comments from customers gave the restaurant rave reviews and the Ingles are looking forward to their grand opening next weekend.
Initially the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. For more information about the restaurant, you can visit their Facebook page at: Rafter MB Quarter Horses Arena And Event Center or you can call them at (307) 322 – 8151.