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Big breakfast dished out with a side of laughs

Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 4:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 4:23 p.m. CDT
(CNA photo by SARAH BROWN)
Retired farmer Donny Pottinger, right, visits with his colleagues over coffee at the sale barn cafe as they await an 11 a.m. sale at Creston Livestock Auction. “I’ve been coming here for 30 to 40 years, and after all that time, the coffee is still hot,” Pottinger says.

As you crunch down on a spoonful of corn flakes, do you ever long for a hearty breakfast? The type of feast they might serve on a farm?

To feast like a farmer, there is no need to raise your own chickens or cattle. Instead, pull up a chair at the sale barn cafe in the Creston Livestock Auction. That is, if you can find a seat in this packed cafe.

Creston Livestock Auction was established in the late 1930s, and Tom and Leisa Frey of Creston have owned the business since 1999. They sell all classes of cattle, including feeders, bred heifers, bred cows and slaughter animals. Regular sales are held every Friday with hay auctions at 9 a.m. and cattle sale at 11 a.m.

You can’t miss the bright-red barn on North Cherry Street. The full parking lot indicates either a sale is taking place or local farmers are gathering to exchange stories over a cup of steaming coffee.

“I’ve been coming here for 30 to 40 years,” said Donny Pottinger, a retired farmer. “And after all that time, the coffee is still hot.”

With a chuckle, Pottinger adds the coffee is sometimes good, but mostly bad. Either way, he’s is a loyal patron for the friendly and attentive staff, but mostly for the company of his friends.

Sherri Baker, the sale barn cafe cook, said farmers have been coming for so long, they have all earned nicknames. Some are based on a farmer’s regular orders or appearance, and others have earned a nickname based on their personalities.

“That’s ‘Beef Cake’ over there,” Baker said. “I don’t know exactly how he got that name.”

The staff admits they can’t always remember some of the regulars’ names because they have been referenced by their nicknames for so long.

“We are always joking with them,” Baker said. “And they joke back. They enjoy it.”

The menu

Whether you are in search of a meal to fuel your body for a long day of labor or just enough to leave you rubbing your tummy, the sale barn cafe has a menu chock full of hot dishes to curb any appetite.

Breakfast favorites include golden french toast, fluffy pancakes, and biscuits and gravy

Baker’s specialty is the Honeymoon, a scrambled combination of eggs, sausage, and hash browns.

A full lunch menu boasts an array of grilled delights, including burgers, tenderloin, fish and grilled cheese sandwiches.

And don’t forget to leave room for dessert. The dessert menu, which will satisfy any sweet tooth, includes seasonal pies by the slice or a la mode, decadent chocolate or strawberry sundaes, and candy bars.

Marion Gildsig reminisced on the unfortunate dining experience of Dean Hoffman.

“Dean isn’t here anymore,” Gildsig said. “But he’d come in every Friday morning and order gooseberry pie.”

One morning, Dean complained about his gooseberry pie, insisting something was wrong with it. The cook explained she had made it the same way every day, but because Dean insisted, she retreated to the kitchen to check the can of gooseberries.

“It turned out, she had opened a can of peas,” Marion said. “She had made pea pie!”

The table exploded in laughter.

“We’re still alive because we haven’t eaten the food,” Pottinger said with a chuckle.

Although no farmer could pinpoint a menu favorite, they agreed that they enjoyed the comfort-style, big breakfast. A vote among a table of seven farmers on a recent morning revealed scrambled eggs, biscuits and bacon are the most popular eats.

Pottinger, who jokes about not eating the food, actually enjoys eggs and bacon.

“Sometimes I’ll have biscuits and gravy, just to mix it up.”

When to visit

While no reservations are necessary, Friday is sale day and the busiest of the week. The sale barn cafe is open 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If an auction runs late, sometimes as late as 8 p.m., the cafe will remain open until the close of the sale.

Go to www.crestonlivestock.com for more information on Creston Livestock Auction.

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