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SHEPHERD — If you want a good prime rib or sirloin steak, The Feedlot Steakhouse is the place to go, say many patrons of the Shepherd restaurant.

It not only serves good food but also has a warm atmosphere.

The Feedlot Steakhouse is owned by Mike Bolte and Susie Young, both have have had previous restaurant experience.

The Feedlot Steakhouse opened Aug. 28, 1998, in Shepherd. This is not Bolte's first business venture — he previously owned an A&W on Ninth Street West and Grand Avenue in Billings.

"When I sold A&W, I swore I would never want to get into this business again," Bolte said.

But he always wanted to do something similar, with a supper club.

Bolte comes from a family whose members owned A&W businesses. His grandfather sold the first Montana A&W franchise in Livingston. Bolte's uncle also started one in Canada in 1964, when there were limited A&W's.

Susie Young became a co-owner of the Feedlot Steakhouse in 1999. She also had previous restaurant experience, working in bars and cafes since she was 18. She had never owned a business before the steakhouse.

"I just wanted to serve good food and make the customers happy," she said.

Young chose Shepherd for a change of pace. She started her bartending career at the Past Time Steakhouse. She loved working there, adding that it was one of her favorite businesses.

Bolte recalled that, when he built the steakhouse, everyone told him he was crazy for building it so far out of town. He said that one of his goals was to keep a quality product and keep it consistent.

The Feedlot Steakhouse handles some special events including rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. The steakhouse also does catering and pitchfork fondue, and Bolte catered the 2004 and 2005 Billings Senior and West High class reunions.

The steakhouse also serves as a place for school functions and birthday parties. And old time fiddlers come to play at the restaurant.

Young said corn salesmen also come to the steakhouse to have a luncheon. She enjoys the special events and is happy with the business.

The restaurant gets about the same volume of business each year, Bolte said, and the level of business stays pretty steady. The restaurant's weekends are typically busy, and he recommended customers call and make reservations.

The steakhouse has many faithful customers, including Doug Affleck, a union electrician, who has been coming to the steakhouse for seven years and said that it is a convenient place to eat lunch for him. Some of his favorite dishes are the prime rib, Feedlot burger and the steak sandwich.

"Prime rib is the best in the country and they treat me really well," Affleck said.

Bolte has many customers who would agree that the number-one reason why they go to the steakhouse is location. He said that the site was a good choice because he had already owned the land and property was getting expensive.

"County liquor licenses are a lot cheaper," he said.

Bolte said that, if he had built this steakhouse in the city, it would have cost him three times what he originally paid.

"This area needed a good steakhouse," he said.

Bolte's favorite meal is the 16-ounce rib, but he also said that the prime-rib sandwich is excellent.

Bolte said that the average cost for a dinner at the steakhouse is $18 to $20 with drinks. Some of the most popular dishes are steaks, prime rib, seafood and baby back ribs. The restaurant also serves burgers and grilled cheese and has a children's menu.

Some of the appetizers are stuffed mushrooms, cheese sticks and Rocky Mountain oysters.

A daily lunch special is offered, and on Thursdays the special is the prime-rib sandwich. Most customers said that they liked the prime rib the best.

On Saturday nights, the restaurant features a prime rib and crab special. The steakhouse serves breakfast on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Sunday morning menu ranges from steak and eggs to pancakes or omelets.

Saturday nights are the restaurant's busiest, but the business also does well on weeknights. The steakhouse averages 60 to 70 dinners a weeknight and about 180 to 220 dinners on Friday and Saturday nights.

Most of the restaurant's customers come from Billings on the weekends, Bolte said. He also said that about half his cliental comes from Shepherd and the other half comes from Billings.

Frank Dones, Gary Davis, and Rick Ekwortzal have been coming to the steakhouse since it opened. They all live in Shepherd, and the number-one reason why they go to the steakhouse routinely is because of its location.

"Its just so darn convenient," Davis said.

Most of the men's favorite dishes include the sirloin steak and the prime rib.

"It all comes down to price and quality of food," Davis said.

Bolte also does promotions for the steakhouse, which includes coupons, advertisements in the newspaper and on television. But he said that most of his advertising is word of mouth.

"Word-of-mouth advertising can make or break you," he said.

Robin Sindelar, Earl Marks, Lloyd Shelhamer and John Shelhamer have been coming to the steakhouse since it opened.

"Just the best one in the country," Marks said.

"About half the time I eat their specials. The other half, I eat the steak sandwich," Shellhamer said. "I don't think you can get a better prime-rib sandwich for the money."

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