Brent Garber knows where the beef is

DeWayne Bartels
Brent Garber, owner of Garber’s Cafe on the Square in Metamora, is likely to be cooking or preparing something no matter what the hour is.

Garber’s Cafe, on the square in Metamora, has a sleepy look.

Brent Garber, the owner, who works about 100 hours a week, reflects the cafe’s atmosphere. He looks a little sleepy, too.

But, Garber said, long hours are what he chose when he got back into restaurant ownership.

“I took over the restaurant about a year ago. I’m running the place by myself usually with one waitress. I get up about 5 a.m., open the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. and close it up at 8:30 p.m. I try to take about a 20 minute nap around 2:30 p.m.,” Garber said.

“I like Sunday ‘cause it’s only a 10-hour day, The hours are part of the game I’ve chosen. You have to suck it up and do it when you run a small business in a small town.”

So why does he do it?

“That’s a question my wife asks me all the time,” Garber said, laughing.

“I really don’t know other than I love it. It’s not the money. But, it is rewarding. I enjoy it.”

For Garber food service is in his blood.

His grandfather had a restaurant.

His parents had a slaughterhouse.

“To a degree, butchery is in my blood,” Garber said.

Garber said he puts that butchery heritage to work in the restaurant.

“We grind our own sausage and hamburger. We have a personal touch,” he said. “It’s handmade, not out of a box.”

Garber said the technique he uses and the recipe involved with his sausage and hamburger comes from a former East Peoria grocer he knew.

The technique involves butchering whole cuts of meat into small pieces. He then grinds the meat once. He cleans out his grinder and then grinds the meat again.

“Butchery is a thing of the past in restaurants. Everything is now frozen,” Garber said.

“What we do makes the burger 10 times better. It takes about an hour-and-a-half to do it. But, our customers deserve the best.”

That attitude, Garber said, is one he developed while owner of a restaurant in the ‘80s. He sold the restaurant a decade later but stayed in the business. He, however, chose to take a route of regular hours and a paycheck working for an owner.

Garber said he was happy doing that and working for Catholic Social Services until he saw the opportunity to buy the restaurant right in his backyard.

“Things are slow right now. Business here has been down for a couple of years. I’m starting from ground zero,” Garber said.

“But, I keep going.”