Metro-East Living

John Wayne would feel right at home in New Memphis restaurant

Stan and Kathy Denton bought a historic corner tavern in New Memphis 11 years ago and turned its giant shed into Sit "N" Bull Saloon and Eatery.
Stan and Kathy Denton bought a historic corner tavern in New Memphis 11 years ago and turned its giant shed into Sit "N" Bull Saloon and Eatery. znizami@bnd.com

Stan and Kathy Denton couldn’t resist going with a Wild West theme for their restaurant and bar in New Memphis after discovering the rich history of its location.

One of two buildings served as a boarding house for travelers on horseback in the mid-1800s. It continued to operate as a corner tavern until the couple bought it 11 years ago.

“The earliest photo I have is from 1856,” said Stan, 53, who sings and plays guitar in a country rock band called Stan Denton and the Wanted.

The Dentons moved into that building and turned the other building, a 3,600-square-foot shed, into Sit “N” Bull Saloon & Eatery. It serves Kathy’s home-cooking and hosts live music on Friday and Saturday nights, adherring to the slogan, “Always a good time. No bull.”

Motorcycle riders and others come from throughout the region for summer barbecues. (New Memphis is a tiny, unincorporated town six miles east of Mascoutah.) A covered deck and patio with picnic tables look out over farmland.

“People always think it’s going to be a small-town bar, and then they walk in and see how big it is,” Stan said. “But everyone says, ‘Hi,’ so people feel comfortable. ‘It feels like home’ — that’s the biggest compliment we get.”

Sit “N” Bull serves appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, other sandwiches and pizza from noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week. All-day breakfast is coming this winter.

Kathy’s daily specials range from Italian meatloaf to corned beef and cabbage, barbecue pork steaks to ham and beans, jambalaya to prime rib, spaghetti to chicken Alfredo.

“A lot of people come out for our chili,” she said. “They just love it. Our burgers are another favorite. We only use black Angus beef.”

The Dentons renovated the shed by covering walls with wood paneling, installing an L-shaped bar that seats 20 and using repurposed wood from the old deck to build regular tables for the dining room and high-tops for the bar.

Walls are decorated with neon beer signs, a John Wayne lithograph and photos of Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers and other famous cowboys.

“Over there ... That’s a poster from a Hank Williams concert,” Stan said. “It was called Louisiana Hayride. It was the last show he did before he died (in 1953).”

Stan kept a few souvenirs from the former business — Ford Brothers Tavern — including four hornets’ nests that hang from the ceiling and an alligator gar mounted over the back door.

Men’s and women’s bathroom signs read “Bulls” and “Heifers.” An antique wooden casket doubles as a photo booth.

Customers on a recent Thursday included Tom Korte, 63, of Trenton, a regular who usually orders tacos or chicken wings.

“The guy who owned the place before Stan, he was a good friend of mine,” Tom said. “And then he sold it (to the Dentons), and I wanted them to make a success of it, so I stuck with it.”

Don “Hoppy” Rasch, 58, of rural Vennedy, frequents the restaurant and bar because of its staff hospitality, cold beer and the “good companionship of friends.”

“I like the food, too,” he said. “I got a large pizza last night. It was a supreme (Big Bull) and those girls make it with love.”

The Dentons have two children and three grandchildren. They want the Sit “N” Bull to be family friendly during the day and more adult-oriented at night, so customers must be 21 or older to enter after 9 p.m.

The bar has a pool table and video gaming. In warm weather, the deck and patio are available for weddings and private parties, complete with a stage for bands.

The annual Bullfest anniversary party attracts about 500 people each September with food, music, bags and washer tournaments, knockerball and vendor booths.

“We’re here for anybody looking to have a good time,”Kathy said. “You can sit and relax in an atmosphere with no drama. The bartenders are super friendly. If you like music and great food, this is the place.”

At a glance

  • What: Sit “N” Bull Saloon & Eatery
  • Where: 31 S. Mill St. in New Memphis (6 miles east of Mascoutah)
  • Kitchen hours: Noon to 9 p.m. daily; bar open until 2 a.m.
  • Seating: 90 inside and 75 on deck and patio
  • Handicap-accessible: Yes
  • Carryouts: Yes
  • Party space: Yes (outside)
  • Information: Call 618-588-3003 or visit www.sit-n-bull.com; daily specials posted on Facebook

On the menu

  • Kathy's Club — Honey ham, smoked turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato on triple white or wheat toast, $4.75
  • Steak & Eggs — Four-ounce ribeye cut in strips with grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms and eggs over easy or scrambled, served with hash browns or American fries, $7.25
  • Atlantic Salmon — Two four-ounce salmon cuts marinated in housemade sauce, served with choice of two sides, $9.75
  • Big Bull Pizza — Handmade 12-inch pizza loaded with extra cheese, extra sauce, pepperoni, ham, bacon, sausage, beef, onions, mushrooms, black olives, jalapenos, banana peppers and green peppers, $14
  • Bullburger — Half-pound black Angus beef patty, served on choice of bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, $4.75
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