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Where's Betty?

People have missed seeing her at the restaurant as frequently and have been often asking the question, "Where's Betty." So we wanted to take the opportunity to answer that question and give an update of the continued future of Betty's Country Cooking. NOTE: Betty's Country Cooking is a long time advertiser in's Daily What's Cooking
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By Dr. David "Mitchell" Sneed

COLUMBIA, KENTUCKY - there's "no place like home" for all of the people who love and have lived in Adair County. All the people that are still in the community show their love and caring nature in amazing ways. Individuals, families and businesses in Adair County have made it what it is today, and there are so many blessings found in the history of Columbia. The same may be said for my sister, Donna, and I, as our mom, Betty Ollestad, and Betty's Country Cooking are amongst those blessings. Our mom has been in business in Columbia for nearly 30 years and feels that service to God through her restaurant in Adair County is what she has always been meant to do.

As a writer and Betty's son, I am not trying to compare mom to the many gracious people in Adair County, but want to count her amongst them as she is commonly referred to as "Granny Betty," "Miss Betty," and other monikers from people in the community that love her. People have missed seeing her at the restaurant as frequently and have been often asking the question, "Where's Betty." So we wanted to take the opportunity to answer that question and give an update of the continued future of Betty's Country Cooking.

The first and most often asked - "Where's Betty?" You should be seeing her around more often but considering she's been in the restaurant business for 40 years, and worked most of them, the continued long hours can take a toll. Thanks to Charlie & Fern Roy, Betty start in the restaurant business began at Druthers in the late 1970s.

Then she helped manage the Fletcher's Country Inn for a number of years before opening Betty's Country Cooking 29 years ago. Now, as she moves through her 70's, we've been trying to free her from the daily demands of management and long hours. If you know Betty, you also know that a huge factor in keeping her away, until recently, was caring for her two little Shih Tzu's - Half-Pint & Little Bit. Both have now passed on and she is now moving forward.

The second most asked question - "Has Betty sold the restaurant?" This is a quick and easy answer... "No, she hasn't." Honestly, we looked at that, as well as other options, but it always came back to two issues for Betty - her customers and her employees. You see, this is a "family business." Not in the traditional sense of family operators (although we greatly appreciate Rich Ollestad and Sherry Williams and other family members for their service) but more because of the people who often eat more of their meals with us than at home each week AND also because of current and past employees, who are also "family." We've had so many long-term employees over the years, that we should write a book about them - or have them write a book on the gossip at the "Liar's Table" as one table is dearly referred to.

Who's in charge? Is another question we are often asked. Truthfully, that's been a challenge that we've been working out. Betty has been and continues to be the owner - period. However, we've been trying to make a transition to give her space and time away from the daily grind. Here's where we are today:
  • Betty Ollestad is the Owner/Operator and heart of the business. The past success comes from her caring about customers - "Take care of customers first and they'll take care of you." We are refocusing on that.

  • Kevin & Arlinda Kessler (and their wonderful children) - are the current generation of the Kessler family that has long been a part of Betty's world. Betty likely learned a lot of her caring about customers as "people rather than profit" from Geneva & Garnett Kessler, owners and operators of the Kessler Store in Portland, KY for 42 years. Kevin & Arlinda are their grandchildren and have agreed to serve as Managing Partners in the restaurant. We are excited about this change!

  • David "Mitchell" Sneed & Donna Corbin Cain - are Betty's kids - Our goal is to create (or really maintain) an operation that Mom/Betty will be proud of - one that honor's Columbia/Adair County people and the community way of life. Although we live far away, our hearts will ALWAYS have home at the center (home is always where Momma is for us!)

  • Cooks, waitresses, dishwashers, prep and food runners, all staff - really and truly, are the "key ingredients" to the successful restaurant recipe. While the rest of us try our best to help them, the employees are the major contributors in success and service to our customers. Betty, Donna, Mitch, Kevin and Arlinda promise to assist them with Betty's model of the foundation of great food and great service by providing additional training and support.
As stated earlier, we are thrilled to have the Kesslers as Managing Partners. They learned from Garnett and Geneva, that God, family and care for others are top priorities. One of my favorite memories as a child was when my granddaddy, Ralph Burris, would take me to the Kessler Store for a Ski or Choc-cola when we visited from Chicago. Some of my sister's favorite "teen memories" were having a Ski on the Kessler Store porch while hundreds of baseball games were played in the field over many years. The Kesslers have been long time friends and family throughout our lives. Like Granddaddy, we have a great deal of care and respect for the Kessler family. We are happy to continue those "family traditions."

We hope you'll continue to enjoy the food and service of Betty's Country Cooking - Columbia. -- Dr. David "Mitchell" Sneed

This story was posted on 2017-08-02 09:38:41
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Announcing new managing partners at Betty's Country Cooking

2017-08-02 - OKCC, 2339 Campbellsville RD, Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda & Ed Waggener,
In a Sunday afternoon meeting, July 30, 2017, Betty Ollestad with her son Mitch, announced new management partners at Betty's Country Cooking. Betty, the girl in the middle in the red shirt, sits between her new managing partners Arlinda and Kevin Kessler. The Kessler children are in front, Jera, Keaton and Kyla. From left are Betty's team members and length of service - Frances Morgan, three years; Summer Brumley, two months; Dot Cody, four years, manager; Jan Leishner; Arlinda Kessler, Betty Ollestad, Kevin Kessler; Ruth Smith, 15 years; Martha McGaha,15 years, cook; Jessica Murphy "little bit", three years; Courtney Keezer, six months; Second row: Caitlin Holmes, two months; Miranda Dugger, seven months; Chasity Mullins, seven months; Dana Taylor, two months; Jimmy George, four years; David "Mitchell" Sneed, "Betty's favorite son"; Michael McKinley, one and a half years; Sherry R. Williams, consultant; Eric Rooks, two years; Lisa Hughes, two years, day cook and pie maker; Connie Courtney listen, three years, day grill cook; Elizabeth Spoon, two years; LaTonya Caldwell, four years, waitress and pie maker; Stella Heath, one and a half years, waitress; and Lola Cape, six months, cook. (Not available for photo Donna Corbin Cain, VP for Operations and First Daughter).

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Managing Partners at Betty's Country Cooking - Arlinda & Kevin

2017-08-02 - OKCC, 2339 Campbellsville RD, Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
Kevin and Arlinda Kessler and their children were on hand Sunday, July 30, 2017, as Betty Ollestad and her son Mitch announced that they will join her as the new management partners at Betty's Country Cooking.

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Betty's employees are a big family: Some closer with Pie Ties

2017-08-02 - OKCC, 2339 Campbellsville RD, Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener, photo(c).
There were hugs a-plenty at the private changing-of-the-guard announcement that Kevin & Arlinda Kessler, would be the new Managing Partners of a South Central Kentucky institution with a national - even international fame. LaTonya Caldwell, left, and Lisa Hughes share a closer tie, they are both part of the Betty's Far More than OK Pie Team. LaTonya is also part of the wait staff, Lisa also is a day cook. EW/LW

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Betty's at her restaurant and all's well with the world

2017-08-03 - OKCC, 2339 Campbellsville RD, Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
Few people will ever know the scope of the silent philanthropy that Betty Ollestad has showered on Columbia, KY, but everyone who's ever been in her restaurant realize she really does understand the legacy she has to one day pass, to be improved. Where's Betty, above, with her son, Dr. David "Mitchell" Sneed, who wrote the classic story assessed by the Read More link with this photo. And Betty, looking so happy now, with much of the future transitions well in hand, will have much more time to sit at her favorite table and greet devoted generations of diners. And Mitchell, above, right, the author of the story, is being encouraged to take the material and write the book about Betty. (Just don't tell her. It will be a surprise best seller; but she's never been one to talk about herself). - EW

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