Tennessee family opens business in Curtis

Curtis, Neb. (KNOP) - Sam and Tracy Shelton sat their five children down to the table over dinner in their Tennessee home about a year ago to decide where they should spend the rest of their lives - or at least their foreseeable future. They decided they could go anywhere on the map. Picking a place came down to places that weren't too cold...too crowded...too anything.

Several years ago the family had lived in Curtis while Sam went to school at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. They lived in Curtis for 10 months before returning to Tennessee when one of their twin daughters was diagnosed with kidney cancer. And they stayed in Tennessee to stay near her doctors.

But Sam was injured in Afghanistan while in the military, and when his daughter went into remission, the family decided they were not content with "being content."

So after deciding on returning to Nebraska - to a place where they remembered fondly, they packed "three of the biggest trucks, cars and horse trailers," and made a "modern caravan to the West," said Sam.

The Shelton's original plan was to invest in cattle, but an opportunity with a business in Curtis presented itself. And, after acquiring the Curtis Cattle Company, and a month of getting things "how we wanted them," he said, the "Twisted Mare" opened for business.

And the Shelton's say, "business is good." They are open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day of the week, serving burgers, steaks and chicken fried steaks in an "Old West" atmosphere. Sam, who is a 100 percent service disabled veteran does what he can to help his wife Tracy, who stays very busy co-managing the business, which means doing everything possible to make the restaurant a success.

Tracy says, "The family has had to sacrifice some of our time together [at home]. But it's a family business, she says. "We will pull together and see what we are made of." Sam and Tracy brought along their five kids, two daughter-in-laws and two grandchildren, and they live together in Maywood.

Tracy says "the people" in the area are the best part of living in Nebraska. Sam agreed. He says that while everyone has heard of "Southern hospitality," he had never really experienced true hospitality until he moved back to Nebraska.

The Shelton's employ 24 college students from the tech school in Curtis. They are very proud of the family recipe (which they say is a secret) for their burgers. Sam says he would like to think that the chicken fried steak, called "the Jesse James" is the best in the region.