Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit owners Ron and Connie Taylor stand in front of some of the unusual flags and memorabilia that give the Fayetteville restaurant its unique decor.

Fayetteville seasonal restaurant will celebrate its 10th anniversary Thursday by giving a 10 percent discount to each customer and giving a free meal to every 10th customer.

“We were just looking for a way to thank this community for making us a success,” said Connie Taylor, who is co-owner with husband, Ron, of Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit. “We thought this would be a nice way to do it.”

Originally, the business was known as the Bridge Tender Inn. When the Taylors took over, they were told the place was haunted by a guy named “Dirty Ernie.”

“He was supposed to be very lascivious with the women, or so we heard,” Connie said. “We didn’t really believe the legend, but when we were looking for a name, we realized a lot of people knew about it and thought Dirty Ernie’s would be a catchy name that people would remember.”

Over the years, diners have added their own touches to the place. The open rafters once held only a West Virginia flag and Old Glory. Today, hats, T-shirts and memorabilia from all over the country have become part of the rustic decor.

“When people come to the restaurant, we take pictures of them and have them sign the guest book,” Connie said. “We want people to feel like it’s home.”

The menu includes 10 to 12 entrees, a variety of appetizers, sandwiches and the restaurant’s signature dessert — dirt cake.

Bus groups frequently roll into Dirty Ernie’s, which seats 150 indoors and an additional 40 diners on a patio.

“We have a lot of church groups come through here, and there are lots of these groups where they come in for a week and work on people’s houses,” Connie said.

Dirty Ernie’s is open from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during the summer.

“We’re a seasonal business, and that ties in well with the rafting industry,” Connie said.

Here are a few of her favorite recipes:

Crawfish julienne

White gravy mix that makes 1 gallon

1/2 gallon hot water

4 cups diced green pepper

1 cup diced red pepper

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons parsley flakes

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

2 stalks diced celery

2 pounds chopped cooked crawfish.

Prepare white gravy mix as directed. Add water to thin into soupy form. Add all other ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. Makes 2 gallons to serve 25.

Ernie’s salsa

One 16-ounce can petite diced tomatoes

3 ounces diced onion

1 teaspoon pureed habanero peppers with seeds

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 ounce cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 ounces catsup

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 ounces diced green pepper

Dash of cilantro

1/4 teaspoon parsley

1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Makes 3/4 quart. Great with fajitas and nachos.

— E-mail: bdavis@register-herald.com

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