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WATCH NOW: From daily specials to fresh-cut meat, Prime Cut serves the community

WATCH NOW: From daily specials to fresh-cut meat, Prime Cut serves the community

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Owner Marty Manley reflects on his 45 years at Prime Cut

Marty Manley has been with the Prime Cut Meat Market & Restaurant since almost the beginning. The restaurant opened in late 1974, and Manley joined the crew as a busboy in the summer of ‘76.

He became a line cook there at 18, and when he graduated high school the manager asked him to apply for the assistant manager position because of his experience with the business. Prime Cut is located at 305 W 27th St. The establishment specializes in steak and beef dishes and aims to be as widely appealing as possible.

“It’s supposed to be a blue collar, everyday person’s restaurant that they can go to where they don’t have to spent $25 for a meal,” Manley said. “They can come in, get a good, quality steak cooked to order. We cut our own meat, a lot of the food that we do here is made in-house. That’s just the way this restaurant works and that’s how we keep it going.”

It wasn’t long ago, Manley said, two-thirds of the restaurant’s clientele were seniors. As more of them have fixed incomes, that has changed in recent years. A weekly Senior Day keeps them coming back.

“It was something one of our managers up in Montana started doing, and it was a really good idea so all of the stores at that time started doing it,” Manley said. On Tuesdays, anyone aged 60 or above can visit the restaurant and order any menu item for only $9 and get any non-alcoholic drink for just 90 cents. Additionally, they receive a free salad with their order. As Manley put it, “It’s a hell of a deal.”

It’s also far from the only special deal day the restaurant has. On Monday nights, kids eat free. On Wednesdays, Prime Cut serves pasta: lasagna, spaghetti, and beef or chicken alfredo. There are specials for the restaurant’s award-winning chicken fried steak on Thursdays. All days except Sundays have luncheon specials.

And on Sundays, it’s family night. Every customer, whether with their family or not, receives 20% off their order.

“We run specials all the time,” Manley said. “...You’ve got to, nowadays.”

The restaurant now features competition from fast food restaurants, something he said he never would have expected decades ago.

Supply chain shortages have led to somewhat increased prices, such as the Senior Day meals being bumped from $8 to $9.

But that doesn’t mean Prime Cut is in danger of closing its doors anytime soon. In fact, Manley specifically said he has no intention of shuttering the establishment. He said he’s hoping to celebrate half a century of business in a few years.

The restaurant experiences a regular influx around Thanksgiving due to their yearly gift certificate promotion.

”I’ve been running this special for 20 years, that whatever (people) come in and buy in gift certificates, we give them 30% more value,” Manley said. The promotion lasts from Black Friday until Christmas Eve.

It’s just one of the aspects that has helped endear the restaurant to locals. The fact that his family and his in-laws have worked there for generations helps. In fact, he met his wife Brenda while they were both working there decades ago. Brenda still works at the establishment as co-owner, and has worked there for 43 years.

There are also events like hosting a trunk-or-treat night this Halloween season. Or, Manley said, just talking with customers helps. Decorations like farm tools adorning the walls prove common conversation pieces.

“Because of the area we’re in, this is a farming community, we have a lot of antiques. People like to come in, they like to look at the antiques and talk about them. It’s amazing how many of the older generation will come in and tell me, ‘I used to use one of those when I was growing up.’”

To add to the atmosphere, Manley set up a few television sets so customers could watch Nebraska Cornhuskers games on the Big Ten Network.

“Before they were just on the radio, but once they started going on TV almost every week we decided to put the TVs in so at least people could come and watch it,” he said.

It’s more than just those which add to the atmosphere. There’s the self-serve ice cream and coffee machines, the condiment station, the banquet room with seating for 80. And it’s the method of food preparation as well.

Manley said the difference between his and other restaurants is that, like the name implies, they cut and process their own meat. “We cook everything to order. We don’t have stuff just sitting around in a pan. ... I don’t like to use frozen products if I don’t have to.”

From the menu to the self-serve style of ordering, it’s almost like eating at somebody’s home. And since the Manleys have been there for close to 50 years, it more or less is.

CHRIS’S PICK 

The Chicken Strip Sandwich, especially loaded with ketchup, onions and pickles from Prime Cut’s condiment station.

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Christopher Borro is a reporter at the Star-Herald. He can be reached at email at christopher.borro@starherald.com.

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