H-NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Jul 3, 2012 7:22 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

No Place Like Home: McLintocks in Shell Beach

It's a mainstay in the restaurant world along the central coast. We're talking about the original McLintocks steakhouse in Shell Beach. It's kind of an institution around these parts, and a birthplace of others like it. And it's more proof, There's No Place Like Home.

There's a reason some places manage to weather the storms of economic downturns, food fads, and fickle food reviewers. Fun festive atmospheres help, but that's not enough to sustain most places. There has to be something more than meets the eye, and the people behind the restaurant chain are well aware of that. "We spend a lot of money on training." says owner Tunny Ortali. "Plus the hardest thing we have to find is effective manager to oversee that."

Ortali and his buddy Bruce Breault started the original McLintocks steak house in Shell Beach 33 years ago, and from the very beginning they've paired ranch-style cuisine, with what they call high-spirited service. "One of the things we always try to do is, we smile people to death." he says.

Their business plan has always centered around making customers happy...at a number of levels. "Our unique approach to customer service is we guarantee what we serve. You don't like your dinner, than you're not going to pay for it." says Ortali. It's an approach that has planted the restaurant firmly in the minds and memories of locals and visitors.

Rick and Janice Hill remember it as their honeymoon destination. "We were married in Phoenix on the 22nd of August, 1986." they say. "Two days later we came over here, to spend the weekend." And it's that same approach that keeps them coming back. The happy couple returned 25 years later to celebrate their anniversary. "Yeah everything is just as great as it was 25 years ago, except the wait staff was younger."

The Shell Beach location was the first of five in the chain today. It was built in an old tavern locals say was also a brothel. Locals know to come hungry when they come to McLintocks today, because they serve up hearty portions, and just the appetizers included with your meal can have you wondering how you'll manage the main course. But it's amazing you can find room when you see what comes next.

And all the flavor found in the beans, burgers and brochet meat comes from trimmings of the hand-cut steaks served up at dinner-time. It is nearly an around the clock operation that somehow Tunny and the gang seem to still love every minute of. "And I always relate it to the closest thing to farmers, you're responsible for it 24 hours a day.

But even these masters, who have trained and helped some of the most successful restaurateurs on the central coast get started on their own, have had to make adjustments in this economy. You can now order up smaller portions in the bar. "We've made that concession." says Tunny. "And guess what? It's a success." he says. "We never had a happy hour in Shell Beach. Guess what? We made that concession. It's a success." he says.

But for the most part, the recipe for success at McLintocks hasn't changed much. Even aesthetically. The place has been repaired, repainted and redone a few times over the years, but it doesn't look much different than it did the day it opened. And that's kind of comforting to anyone who's left home for awhile, and returns to find reminders of their your roots are in familiar mainstays like McLintocks.

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JEANETTE TROMPETER

Follow Jeanette Trompeter's blog "JT's Little Corner of the World."