CLAIM TO FAME: In addition to feeding the locals, this downtown pool hall on Main Street in St. Francis, KS, has served hunters and other visitors to this town of 1,400 since 1927.

THE BACKSTORY: Lacy Reed took over the place 16 1/2 years ago. She renamed it the Diamond R Bar and Grill in honor of the family dairy business, which went by the name Diamond J. (Her brother, A.J. Jones, now lives on the old home place; he’s the manager at Callicrate Cattle Co.) “This is what I wanted to do before I even went to college,” she says of running a small town restaurant. “I worked for the previous owners on and off all through college.” It’s hard work but the rewarding part is being back home in a rural community and enjoying the benefits of small town living. “I wanted to raise my children here,” she says. “By being here, I watched my nieces and nephews grow up, I’ve been able to be with my parents as they’ve aged, and I also watched my friends’ children growing up. They aren’t just customers, they are family.”

WHY RANCH FOODS DIRECT: The beef is as local as it gets, grazed on pastures 7 miles from the grill’s front door. “I like knowing where my meat comes from and how it’s handled, knowing it was fed right and treated right,” Lacy says. “I feel better serving it. I like knowing exactly when it was slaughtered and how long it has been setting in a cooler.” The Diamond R is known for its burgers, which are hand-formed from fresh ground beef rather than frozen patties. In addition, Lacy uses Callicrate Beef for lunch specials that include sloppy joes, chili and soups. People appreciate having a local spot where they can get a hot meal everyday except Sunday. “That’s a good burger, that’s what I hear,” she says. “It’s hard to maintain a small business when you only have a certain amount of traffic. But I do see more young people who are interested in coming back, and we are in the process of expanding and making some upgrades.”