History of ‘The Lumber Yard Steakhouse”
The Geo.W. Ultch Lumber Company was built in Zenda in 1902. One of the early managers was C.L. Schooley; another was Aura C. Day, followed by A. R. Elwell, then Wm. J. Adelhardt. Mr. Ultch owned 15 lumber yards in Kansas and one in Missouri. After Geo. W. Ultch, Jr.’s death in 1974, the lumber yard was bought in 1975 by the Farmers and Builders Lumber Co., Inc and the lumber yard was operated at the same location. After Wm. J. Adelhardt's retirement in 1978, Bonnie Bailey, the bookkeeper, was also appointed manager. Leroy Bohrer stayed on as the yardman and routeman.
In 1991 the Board approached Woodrow and Beulah Graber about buying the Lumber Yard. Woodrow and Beulah used this opportunity to provide the community with “The Lumber Yard Steakhouse and Supper Club”. Their daughter, Ruth and husband, Jerry Vanlandingham, helped manage the restaurant for approximately a year. In October of 1997, Ruth and Jerry’s daughter, Lisa Vanlandingham, became the owner and manager. The local restaurant became well known for Ralph Lilja’s Barbecue Ribs. Customers came from far and wide.
As of August 2010, the restaurant was purchased by the Molitor Angus Ranch, LLC. The owner, Mike Molitor, is a rancher/cattleman and farmer in the local area. In 2014, Mike received the National Seedstock Commitment to Excellence Award for bringing dreams to life for everyone from ranchers to consumers. As quoted by Mike, " I see the full circle from conception on, but it's not only about the big picture. Whether we're talking about diners at the steakhouse, bull buyers or cattle, the individuals are the most important consideration." Mike goes on to say, "Small towns will die if they don't have places like this. It's church, it's community, it's the whole works." The restaurant is co-owned by his sister, Marsha Bowmaker-Strothman. The manager/cook is Bob Pummel, who has been with the Molitor Angus Ranch organization since 2010.
The Lumber Yard Steakhouse continues to serve the community with its delicious steaks, freshly grilled hamburgers, and monthly seafood buffet (except during December). As our T-shirts read: Splinters on the floor, Wine in the Nail Bins, and the Best Angus Steaks in Kansas!
Majority of the information has been provided by Bonnie Bailey, local historian and previous lumber yard employee.