RALEIGH — A history buff who loves collections, the celebration of grandmother’s 80th birthday, a mouthwatering steak aged to perfection, a bourbon on the rocks in the lounge — whatever brings you to the Angus Barn, you can be assured they will make it a memorable experience for you.
“We have a saying, ‘If it’s not illegal, immoral, or unethical, then the answer is yes,’” said owner Van Eure.
“Even as big as we are, we still try to cater to any special request.”
The Angus Barn is known for its perfectly grilled, dry-aged steaks, smooth chocolate chess pie, commitment to service, and as a destination of sorts in the state’s capital city. The history of the steakhouse dates to 1960, when Eure’s father, Thad Jr., and Charles Winston opened the restaurant. From there, the business began to thrive and eventually Winston sold his share to Eure, and it has remained a family business ever since.
“We’re a very rustic atmosphere with fine dining service. You are not sitting in a fine dining restaurant with tuxedos and white tablecloths per se as you are in a barn. It is meant to be and feel like an actual barn, but your service, you should want for nothing. It should be perfect,” said Eure.
“Service, food, and atmosphere is what we are all about. Of those three things, if service isn’t great, then those other two don’t matter,” she added.
The Angus Barn prides itself on anticipating and meeting the customer’s needs. Waitstaff has been known to carry crying babies, help children make their own birthday cakes in the kitchen, and cook entrees to special order, for instance. Eure will tell you, the Angus Barn is in the business of making memories, which is why service plays such an important role in their daily interactions with guests.
“The real special ones are when someone will come out here and be very sad and we will say, ‘How are you tonight?’ and they will say, ‘This is the last place we came when my father was suffering. He wanted to come here for the last meal with the family,’” said Eure.
Some come for dinner in the middle of chemotherapy on a day when he or she is feeling good. Others come to celebrate special occasions. Even wishes have been granted for visits through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“You only get once chance to have an 80th birthday; one chance to have a 50th anniversary; everything is once and they choose to come here to do that. It says a lot — it says they trust us with this very special occasion,” said Eure.
“There are things in life you have to have like medication, heat for your home, and clothing; and there are luxury items that you choose to have. We are a choose to. It is a big deal that they have chosen us, because there are other choices.”
The Angus Barn is open every day except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. While the restaurant seats 800 guests, an average night brings 700 guests to dine. In December, the number rises to 1,500 guests an evening as they celebrate the holidays.
There are 400 employees of the Angus Barn with 200 working full and part time, and an additional 200 on-call employees for catering events. Employees are heavily vetted so only the best shows up at your table. In return, employees are taken care of with insurance, 401(k) plans, and years of service awards.
The menu items are carefully orchestrated by Executive Chef Walter Royal and range from a Carolina truffle filet mignon to lobster tail to king crab claws to a 42-ounce bone-in tomahawk ribeye.
“The tomahawk is mouthwatering with its seasoning and sauces. Add twice baked potatoes and cream spinach, and it’s my favorite meal on the menu,” said Eure.
Of course, the chocolate chess pie is well-known among guests, but while Eure nods the excellence of the dish, she passes on tasting. It all has to do with the time her father asked her to help the kitchen staff bake 200 in an effort to perfect the recipe.
“My mother saw the pie at a church function, and it is the simplest recipe, but it had to be cooked just right,” said Eure. “We tried each one, this one was too fudgy, this one had been cooked too long, we did this until it was perfect.”
While the food is delectable, the collections and memorabilia are equally as enticing for visitors. Inside guests will find an award-winning wine list of 1,700 selections; a wine cellar filled with between 25,000 to 28,000 bottles; a humidor room; 360 Wild Turkey bourbon decanters; and 400 single-action Colts.
“My dad never went out for target practice or hunting, but he started collecting antiques, and he got fascinated with Colts. It was a fun hobby as learning about the guns you learn about history. The Colts started out in our house, filling up a room. When we expanded the restaurant, we had this whole wall, and my mother said please get these guns out of the house,” said Eure.
It’s the same principle behind the turkeys that line one of the lounges. Her father started collecting the turkeys, and they filled up the house until her mother said it was time to get them out of the house.
“The turkeys flew from our house to the lounge. She was this designer and loved to have everything right about the house and the restaurant,” said Eure.
Whatever brings you to the Angus Barn, it’s important to them you make a memory while you are there.
“It’s a big deal they’ve chosen us, and we want to go above their expectations,” Eure said.