Three Syberg brothers own six restaurants in the St. Louis area, including a new one in O'Fallon.
But they don't think of the business as a "chain" because it's so family oriented.
The staff includes another brother, two sisters and two sons. Inspiration also comes from parents Sally and Rich Syberg, who are retired from catering and food service.
"My mom and dad live in South St. Louis County, and all six of us (kids) live within 15 minutes of them," said Kirk Syberg, 52. "They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They have like 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It's a good American story."
Kirk opened Syberg's, An Eating & Drinking Company, in O'Fallon three weeks ago with brothers Brett, 48, and Rick, 55. The 5,600-square-foot building near Garden Ridge formerly housed Lone Star Steakhouse.
Customers can sit at high-top tables in the bar or regular tables in the dining room. Dark blue walls display everything from Syberg family photos to beer signs, sports jerseys to historic magazine covers.
"It's just a friendly place with great food," said long-time customer and friend Steve Horstmann, 60, of Damiansville. "I happen to think they have some of the best pizza in the world."
Steve was the first Syberg's customer at the first location on the first day of business, St. Patrick's Day, 1980. He worked next door.
Steve learned to love the restaurant's chicken wings, well before wings became a standard appetizer.
The Sybergs recently won the People's Choice Award at the National Buffalo Wing Festival Contest in Buffalo, N.Y. Their sauce is sold at Walmart and grocery stores.
"It's not like any other sauce you've tasted," Kirk said. "It's a hot mustard. It's very unique. We put it on about 10 other items on the menu."
The brothers also serve sandwiches, wraps, burgers, steaks, seafood, chicken, pasta, salads and other appetizers.
One of their signature items is grilled shark chunks, reputed to taste like filet mignon. Customers consume about 1,000 pounds a week.
"My personal favorite on the menu is the (hand-breaded) crispy chicken tenders," said Sarah Aper, 30, of Pocahontas, a manager in O'Fallon. "They're tossed in the original Syberg's sauce and served with homemade chips. It's one of our top sellers, if not the top seller."
Syberg's started on Gravois in South St. Louis County. The brothers later expanded to Market, Sunset Hills (called Helen Fitzgerald's after their grandmother), Dorsett and Chesterfield.
Today, Kirk, Brett and Rick are assisted by brother Dennis Syberg, sisters Fawn Lindquist and Debbie Bunse, Rick's son, Josh, and Kirk's son, Conner, who is a manager in O'Fallon.
"They've been knocking it out of the park (at the new location)," said Steve, who helped them find the building. "I think they've been pleasantly surprised by how well they've been received."
Syberg's has about 30 flat-screen TVs that usually broadcast sports games, as well as a full bar.
Kirk attributes the brothers' success to their high-quality meat and other ingredients that are fresh, not frozen, as well as employee dedication.
"When we hire people, they become part of our family," he said. "You're only as good as the people who work for you. We have people who have been working for us for 20 or 25 years."
At a glance
What: Syberg's, An Eating and Drinking Company
Where: 1310 Central Park Drive in O'Fallon, near Garden Ridge
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; bar open until 1 a.m.
Seating: About 180 people (more when patio opens)
Information: Call 618-622-0801 or visit sybergs.com
On the menu
Sygoons -- Eight fried wonton dumplings loaded with diced chicken mixed with house ranch dressing, cream cheese and Syberg's sauce, $8.99
Brett's Conglomeration Pizza -- Everything in the fridge except fish with Syberg's sauce and provel and mozzarella blend, $14.99 for 12-inch or $21.99 for 16-inch
Cajun Pepper Jack Burger -- Charbroiled burger topped with Cajun spices and pepper Jack cheese on a toasted Kaiser bun with choice of fries, homemade chips, coleslaw, cottage cheese, fresh veggies or seasoned fruit, $8.99
Syberg's Famous Chicken Sandwich -- Hand-breaded chicken tenders tossed in Syberg's original wing sauce on a Kaiser roll with choice of fries, homemade chips, cole slaw, cottage cheese, fresh veggies or seasoned fruit, $8.99
Jack Daniel's Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop -- Hand-cut pork chop wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon with Jack Daniel's glaze and charbroiled, served with two sides, $14.99