By LARRY VAUGHT
OWENSBORO — I’ve had a chance to eat at Moonlite Bar-B-Q a few times and never once did I leave disappointed because the food was great and the buffet was endless.
However, Saturday I got a behind the scenes look at Moonlite thanks to owner Ken Bosley and now I’m ever more impressed with the restaurant here that employs about 120 and seats 350 — and had folks waiting in line for it to open the buffet Saturday morning.
Ken told me plenty about the history of Moonlite and how when his parents bought the restaurant it seated maybe 30. He explained how the restaurant had expanded in stages and even the entrance had been changed when the family learned highway construction was coming years ago.
Trust me, I had no idea that Moonlite had such a significant catering business that one of its clients is Fort Knox. That’s how good the meat cooked over the hickey wood is and the meat is cook basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ken Bosley took great pride in explaining how the meat is fixed and the special care that goes into it daily. He seemed especially proud of the burgoo and joked that some other places in Kentucky that sell “soup” and not burgoo as they claim. He estimated Moonlite fixes 70 gallons of burgoo per day.
He explained how the banana pudding — one of the restaurant’s signature desserts among the many offered — was his grandmother’s recipe.
He praised everyone in the kitchen, including the dishwashing crew that he called the “most important people” working at the restaurant.
Bosley explained how barbecued mutton is a western Kentucky speciality and the background of how that happened. But it was amazing to see the quantity of mutton, pork, chicken and beef being cooked. It was also surprising to see how many people used the carry-out option or stopped by to purchase barbecue sauce and other Moonlite products.
Moonlite would like to market its products through retail outlets but Bosley explained the difficulties in pursuing that.
Bosley said there’s nothing quite like the barbecue in western Kentucky and doesn’t see that changing any time soon.
“We all have our little secrets for what we do, but nobody does it better,” he said.
And one other thing that really caught my attention — the buffet and menu prices are a lot more affordable than what one might expect.
For more information go to http://www.moonlite.com.
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Another downtown treasure that Owensboro tourism officials pointed out to us was the Creme Coffee House, which is just a block from the riverfront.
It had plenty of coffee, but even for a non-coffee drinker like me there was a lot to like. It serves breakfast and lunch and we had turkey on a pretzel bun and the homemade chicken salad along with a couple of brownies.
The staff was talkative and friendly and explained how at times local musicians play there on weekends.
It has unusual decor and a pace geared to let one just relax and enjoy life.
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For something a bit different, we drove about 30 miles to Hawesville for the Immaculate Church Parish picnic. Every summer weekend there is a different parish picnic/festival featuring plenty of barbecue but also games and activities.
My two grandchildren had a great time with the various games and prizes from stuffed animals to candy. A friend took both boys to play bingo — and the oldest one actually won and was ecstatic.
You could buy individual barbecue sandwiches or also buy mutton or pork by the pound. I also have to admit the burgoo I had was unbelievable. I just wish there had been a way to bring home a gallon of burgoo.
There was also a buffet dinner that had a big crowd as well as the cake auction.
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Finally our big day got an unexpected ending when my 4-year-old grandson heard music. We left the Hampton Inn — that was a great host for our Owensboro weekend — and headed to the riverfront. We found the duo Heath & Molly, a folk-rock, husband-wife duo, playing and singing as part of the free outdoor concert series “LIVE on the Banks.”
They are from Rumsey, Ky., but travel frequently to showcase their talent that includes acoustic guitars and various percussion. Their website says they perform an average of 150 shows each year across and they are scheduled to be in Nicholasville Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Jessamine County Public Library.