Bidding a Rough and Refined farewell
LUSK-Two years ago, Rough and Refined was purchased by a mother-daughter duo. It was an acquisition motivated by the love of food, service and community.
Linda Broyles is no stranger to Lusk. She has lived in the town for several years. She began her culinary career with a food truck that served food prepared with fresh ingredients. She situated this mobile dining experience in front of the vacant building that would eventually become Rough and Refined. A phone call to Broyles’ daughter, Di Smith, precipitated the transformation of the venue into what is now one of the most popular dining attractions in Lusk.
“I called her and told her that she needed to move here,” Broyles said. “I said ‘If we are successful with a food trailer, then we will buy a restaurant.’”
So began Rough and Refined. Together, they poured their hearts into the culinary venture.
“For the first couple of weeks, we just gave away food,” Broyles said.
Smith was living in California when she got her mother’s call. She began her culinary career in high school, working as a waitress in a Tai restaurant. She enjoyed further career advancement at a BBQ restaurant, when she gradually climbed from sous chef to junior chef. She experienced a similar ascent at a restaurant dubbed Rosewood, where she worked her way from salad person to sous chef to junior chef. Sadly, the COVID outbreak shut this establishment down. Nevertheless, the experience allowed Smith to hone her cooking skills. After preparing various dishes for 10-years, Smith boasted an extensive resume.
“I used to cook for my parents every night,” Smith said. “For my senior project, it was food. I was good at it, so I decided that I had better stick with it.”
The sort of food Broyles wanted to sell was clean, gluten-free and dairy-free. It was an idea whose time had come, as is evidenced by the eatery’s almost automatic popularity. From the moment that Rough and Refined opened its doors, Broyles’ unique culinary offerings captured the collective palate of the community.
“It was really cool,” Smith said. “We had a ton of tourists that came through. Everyone knew about Rough and Refined.”
The restaurant managed to draw a steady flow of patrons, even during the slower span of months from January to April.
According to Smith and Broyles, their success is not only attributable to great food, but to their eatery’s atmosphere as well.
“We have a really great fun atmosphere here,” Smith said. “We have singing and laughing. We can just be ourselves. It makes people really comfortable and they can be themselves as well.”
“There is no one that cooks food the way we do in this town,” Broyles said. “We have always tried to make everything from scratch. We put a lot of love into our food and that, in itself, is currency.”
While the establishment’s menu was decidedly unconventional, Rough and Refined still offered traditional carnivore fare. Eventually, Saturdays became regular “steak nights.”
Broyles said, “No one can cook steak like Dai.”
Sadly, Smith and Broyles recently made the tough decision to sell Rough and Refined. They arrived at this difficult decision in November. Smith will be moving to Texas in March for a much-needed break.
“I have worked in the food industry for over 10-years and it was really time for me to take a break,” Smith said. “It’s time for some self-love because restaurant life is very hard.”
Broyles will be joining Smith later in June.
Needless to say, several residents are not ready to say farewell. Several locals have urged Broyles and Smith to reconsider their painful decision.
“It really humbled us,” Smith said of the overwhelming response to their announcement.
Conflicted by their affinity for Lusk, the mother-daughter team have considered a litany of other options. Yet, a tenable alternative remains elusive. For Broyles and Smith, selling Rough and Refined seems to be the best option.
“We are hoping that someone will just buy what we have already established here with the restaurant,” Broyles said.
Fortunately, ravenous locals can expect to see Rough and Refined open for a little while longer.
“It makes sense to have the restaurant open for potential buyers,” Broyles said. “My main goal is to keep it open for the community too.”
Of course, the mother-daughter duo has not made the magic happen alone. They have surrounded themselves with the competent team of Tayler Kleinberg, Lacey Brott and Butch Kleinberg.
“We are extremely close to our staff,” Smith said. “We have very strong relationships here.”
The crew was even offered a chance to appear on “America’s Road Show,” a TV program featured on Food Network channel.
“They were coming through Wyoming and they were looking for fine dining restaurants,” Smith said. “We fit the criteria for that. They were super interested in us, but it was just the timing.”
“It made us very proud that they considered us,” Broyles said.
For Broyles and Smith, this recent development makes their impending departures an even sweeter sorrow.
“It’s mostly bittersweet,” Smith said. “Whoever buys the restaurant next will have a really strong following. People from all over the country have come here.”
“First and foremost, it was an adventure. The best adventure,” Broyles said. “We are super grateful for the community and we will miss everyone very much.”
“We have learned so much and grown,” Smith added. “We all grew together.”
“Opening a restaurant, you’re putting your whole soul onto a plate to be tasted, judged and examined,” Broyles said.
Yet, while contented invariably left empty plates, the crew of Rough and Refined will not leave with empty hearts.
Smith said, “Lusk gave us just as much as we them.”