Editor's Note: Our Sunday restaurant feature "Dining in Douglas" this week spotlights Landmark Café located on Highway 5 in the Bill Arp community.
The Landmark Café is the epitome of a country buffet.
When you first pull up, fresh fruit and vegetables stands await outside the eatery, a typical image of what one might see at a farmer’s market.
Inside are warm yellow and red walls. Red, squishy booths and tables are complete with checkered table cloths. A diner meets buffet, the persona of the restaurant is comfort and homey.
This reflects the owner Steve Buckles and his childhood.
As a child from a family of 14, he was expected to help with the cooking and his passion for it became apparent with his restaurant.
“My mama was a good cook so all of us has to help in the kitchen,” explained Buckles. “I have been using her recipes ever since I was a little boy.”
Buckles, a resident of Douglas County for 30 years, decided to try his hand at a restaurant after his business went under during the recession.
“I cooked all my life,” said Buckles. “I cooked for my family growing up. I used to own Atone Mountain Granite. When the company went down, I lost everything that I had. I said, ‘The heck with it, I’m going to cook.’”
Even though Buckles originally began with barbecue, he eventually transformed the restaurant into an entire buffet.
“I got a real good barbecue pit in the back,” said Buckles. “I built it myself. My pit is all insulated. Once you get it to the temperature you want, it stays that way.”
One noticeable picture that Buckles features inside his restaurant is a picture of Norman Reedus, who plays the character Daryl Dixon in AMC series "The Walking Dead." Reedus is known to stop by occasionally and eat, so guests should be on the lookout.
Since it is a buffet, there is no menu. However, customers are able to see exactly what is available as soon as they walk in.
Customers can expect to see a range of grilled and fried pork chops, fried and baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, mac and cheese, ham, meatloaf and as assortment of other items.
Two large heating stations keep the multiple food items warm throughout the day, even though everything is fresh and homemade. There are also no leftovers from the night before.
“We put fresh food out every day,” said Buckles. “I don’t save no leftovers period. At night time, I got some people come by and I give all my leftovers to the homeless. We cook fresh every day.”
The prices for the buffet are cheap and simple: one meat and two sides for $6 or all you can eat buffet for $8.99.
“You can’t beat that,” noted Buckles. “That is cheap.”
Guests can also get a small salad with their meal at the salad bar.
“The salad comes with the meal,” said Buckles.
Buckles tries to make everyday special by having a different main item for every day of the week. For example, Monday is spaghetti, Tuesday is meatloaf, Wednesday is ham, Thursday is stir-fry and pork chops and Friday is Buckles’ infamous catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw and French fries.
“Everybody likes that catfish,” said Buckles.
Buckles is also thinking about adding a breakfast buffet option to his special items.
“I have been getting a lot of people wanting me to do breakfast,” explained Buckles. “It would be organic breakfast.”
The buffet is complete with desserts varying each day. Options range from chocolate cake, carrot cake, peach cobbler and pound cake.
Buckles does offer catering as long as he is given fair notice.
“All you got to do is call me and I cook it,” said Buckles. “I can cook anything, no matter what is it.”
Overall, Buckles finds that his food reflects old country cooking.
“It is a good place to eat,” said Buckles. “It is nothing fancy. If you like good homemade country food, this is the place to be. Yes, it is.”