DISHING UP INNOVATION
By Laura Leite Telescope News
(Fourth in a series. The pandemic has been a challenge for Republic county restaurants. Many found innovative ways to serve and support the community they call home. Over the next few weeks, the Telescope will take a closer look at local restaurants and how they have persevered.)
Terry and Carol Garman opened TAG’s Grill and Bar on New Year’s Eve 2007 to a full house. “When we opened the doors, there was a line waiting outside,” said Terry Garman.
Terry and Carol are originally from the Burr Oak/Superior area and after going away to college decided to move back to Scandia to be closer to family. When they moved back in 1979, the Garmans purchased the grocery store in Scandia and ran it for 12 years. They then leased the grocery store out for another 12 years.
“When they (tenants) decided to retire, we just shut down the grocery store and had several other things going on in here. I butchered meat for people, and we did catering and John Davis built a dining room,” says Terry.
“Then we decided that we would just make this into a restaurant that our daughter Tracy and Carol could run,” he says. Carol and Terry look at each other and laugh.
“That was not right because we were so busy. So now we have all of our kids and grandkids helping.”
“I thought that opening the restaurant would give the grandkids a good learning experience,” says Carol. “It gives them the opportunity to learn work ethics and business. I think that it has helped a lot of them grow.”
There are many generations keeping the restaurant going. “It takes a lot of people,” says Carol. “We usually have 21 employees and currently 10 of them are family,” says Terry.
The logo of TAG’s says it all about the family business. TAG stands for the initials of the Garman children. Todd Allan Garman, Tracy Ann Garman and Troy Aaron Garman. “We used to call them our little tags,” says Carol. The design of the logo also illustrates the family with three stars in the middle for the children and a star on each side for Terry and Carol.
“Terry enjoys the restaurant because he is a people person,” says Carol. “He loves to meet new people and make new friends that started as regular customers.”
“COVID has slowed us down some,” says Terry. “At first people just wanted carry-out meals and then we added curb service and delivery. And during the tougher times, we made casseroles for people. We sold a lot of them that were available fresh or frozen and could be taken home and baked for families. The casseroles were successful, it was an experiment to find out what worked and what didn’t during the time we were slowed down.”
“Now we have a lot of coffee people coming back and we have customers dining in for breakfast, noon and evening meals,” Terry says.
“We still miss some of the groups of ladies that used to come a lot and still aren’t back,” says Carol. “We sure do miss them.”
“The catering was curtailed with COVID but things are starting to pick back up,” says Terry.
The couple says their most popular meals are hamburgers and the homemade chicken fried steak. “People also enjoy that we serve breakfast all day,” says Carol.
“We are always surprised by the amount of traffic that we have from the highway,” Terry says. “People look us up on the internet and call to see if we are open.” There is always something going on at the restaurant and specials for every occasion.
When the grocery store was renovated to a restaurant. Terry, his boys, and John Davis did all of the work but the electrical. Great care has been taken in the detail of the barn siding from Carol (Roe) Garman’s homestead and the restored tin ceiling from the gymnasium in Kackley, KS. The rock that lines the walk-in cooler was taken from a barn in Republic County.
“The rock that you see is not very thick, the boys and I took an old saw and refashioned it to a rock saw to slice the rocks into workable pieces,” says Terry. There are also historical photos of Scandia on the wall for patrons to enjoy.