COUNTRY RANCH FAMILY RESTAURANT & Ice Cream Parlor opened in Morrice in mid-October. Shown are (from left) Keaton Reese, 17, who works alongside his dad, owner Kenneth Reese.
Kenneth Reese, an Owosso native, held a soft opening of his new restaurant in Morrice in mid-October – and has been thrilled with the community support.
Reese purchased the former Diane’s Country Kitchen last spring. The restaurant is now named Country Ranch Family Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor. The owner of Diane’s Country Kitchen, Diane Turner, died suddenly in December 2019 and the community was saddened by her loss and the closure of the popular restaurant. Reese, having 35-plus years of restaurant experience, decided he was interested in seeing the restaurant continue to flourish and serve the area, so he purchased the property, having a passion to grow a business as a legacy for his children.
Reese has three children: Keaton, 17, Anthony, 8 and Millie, 3-months. Keaton and Anthony are often working or helping out at the restaurant with various chores. His girlfriend, Matison Laduke, is also part of the restaurant team. She handles most of the scheduling and also serves tables, which allows him to handle the kitchen and business end of the operation.
Reese likes the idea of having his family involved in the business. He used to assist his sister and brother-in-law as a teenager in their Owosso businesses, which included the downtown Big Boy, Country Ranch on M-21 and Oliver’s on Exchange Street. His sister has since passed away, but Reese has remained connected to his brother-in-law and decided to rename the Morrice restaurant as a nod to his sister and her Owosso businesses.
Since the soft opening in October, Reese has been happy to see a positive influx of local customers, particularly for breakfast – which is regularly a busy time of day.
“Lots of locals have been coming in. They’re glad it’s open and very positive about it,” he shared. “I’d like to get some recognition to some outside communities. We’re just a 15-minute drive from Owosso or Durand. We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and offer a family-style menu that includes American, Mexican and Italian options.”
Reese mentioned that his ribs have been highly sought after as of late. Along with that, most Fridays are Fish Fry Fridays and include specials on ocean perch, clam strips, cod, catfish, shrimp and seafood platters. Soon, he plans to start a lasagna night, too. Have a sweet tooth? That’s not forgotten. Reese has included an ice cream parlor and offers Hershey’s hand-dipped ice cream flavors.
“It’s worth the drive to get a great meal,” Reese said. “I’m hoping to leave this to my kids. This is all I know how to do. Give me some food and I’ll make you something you’ll enjoy.”
Reese wishes the public to know he has a room available for reservation, too. He is able to seat for parties, meetings and large gatherings such as birthdays or family events. The banquet room is separate from the dining area. Adding to that, he also includes televisions and free WiFi.
“One of the biggest challenges has been getting product,” Reese shared, referencing one of the hurdles of the pandemic. “We order from several food companies, but there is still a lot of running to the store for some items our suppliers don’t have.” He mentioned a recent difficulty in obtaining Styrofoam carryout containers, since he does offer carryout and curbside options. “Call ahead and we’ll have it ready.”
Country Ranch Family Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor is located at 329 Main St., Morrice.