In 1988, my family and I had relocated to Durham from Texas and a friend of ours asked us out to dinner at a place north of Durham. We were ready to see what the great state of North Carolina had to offer. I confess that I looked at my watch more than once on the journey. When we finally arrived, there was this red barn building nestled in a picturesque, rural setting. It was a welcome sight.
The meal was delicious, maybe because I was so hungry from the trip, but the atmosphere was comfortable and inviting. The red barn restaurant, better known as the Homestead Steakhouse, the vision of Randy and Debby Cash, was established in 1986. The original building seated 240 guests.
In 2020, the Cashes passed the torch of ownership, history, and memories for so many to someone new. The convergence of the Homestead legacy with a general manager, who was trying to get out of the restaurant business when he met the Cash family, led to the change.
I know Randy and Debby Cash personally; I am sure many reading this do also. Randy was born and raised in Timberlake, so it is fitting that he and Debby settled there when they purchased the Frank Timberlake home on a few picturesque acres. Their hobby was hosting small event gatherings on their property, and they soon determined that this “side hustle” was becoming more than a hobby and they needed a place to fulfill their vision for a wedding venue – in short, a restaurant.
If you know Randy, you know he is a “project guy.” So, allegedly, the plan for the Homestead was drawn out on a paper bag and things were set in motion to make it happen. Randy told me that many folks laughed a little at the idea of putting a restaurant in “Timber-where?” Although Randy said he and Debby had no business experience, I can say that they were committed to the idea of serving guests, being generous, and providing a pleasant dining experience for all. For the first six years of operation, Randy and Debby continued to work their full-time jobs with P&G and Liggett & Meyers as the restaurant became established. In 1992, it became their full-time pursuit.
The Homestead features a rustic pine interior along with barn-style architecture. Add to that some antique decorations, Tiffany-style lamps, holiday decorations, and antique furniture for interest, and I am sure guests feel like they are going back home for a meal with family.
After becoming established, the Cashes quickly realized that even though the Homestead was billed as a “steakhouse,” the menu had to offer a variety of choices beyond just beef items. They expanded the menu to include seafood and other entrees that would keep folks coming back.
Over the years, more red-sided attached buildings popped up and the restaurant carved out more intimate rooms to accommodate groups from 10 to 74 guests. The Festival House, an on-site but separate building, was built for larger groups. Ironically, it can seat almost as many guests as the original building. Currently, the Homestead has 40,000 square feet of space; three kitchens plus a catering kitchen operating three shifts at times; 1,200 seats for guests, and may serve 1,100 to 1,500 meals in an evening. Add to that five catering vans that serve groups from 100 to 1,200 guests and it’s obvious that the Cashes’ vision has been fully realized. Randy and Debby would tell you that they have been blessed to have met and served thousands of guests over the past 36 years.
You also may think that everything on the walls is for sale, but the decorations in the Homestead, like the Bob Timberlake prints, the irreplaceable bird houses, and quilts are a simple reflection of Randy’s and Debby’s tastes.
Obviously, stepping back and passing the torch of ownership of an establishment like the Homestead is no simple task. This is where the youthful Tyler Faucette came onto the scene. Tyler has been in the restaurant business since the age of 18 and saw it as a potential career because it provided opportunities for owners to be creative and explore new ideas. I refer to Tyler as “youthful” because he is now just 35. He is by no means inexperienced in guest relations and restaurant management, however. At 22, he was managing a restaurant in Mebane. Other credits on his resume include multiple restaurant management positions from full service to fast casual. His efforts to purchase his own restaurant didn’t pan out for some time, so he sought a position as a food sales rep. That effort also fell short, and in his words, he was “trying to get out of the restaurant business and try something different.”
When Randy needed to hire a general manager, Tyler should have been a top candidate, but neither knew the other existed. Thanks to a few mutual connections, however, the two were soon acquainted. Randy needed a capable general manager as he considered retirement. Fortunately for both him and Tyler, Randy’s sales rep in Virginia contacted a business acquaintance in Greensboro, who interviewed Tyler and suggested that Randy contact Tyler. A few weeks later, after a trip to a place Tyler didn’t know existed and a four-hour interview, he got the call.
Six years ago last August, Tyler was hired as the Homestead general manager at the ripe old age of 28. The restaurant is five times larger than any facility he had previously managed and really operates four different businesses, so the general manager has to keep many plates spinning at the same time.
After acting as manager for five years, when Tyler was around 33, the time came to pass the torch. The deal was completed in September of 2022. Tyler even purchased the Timberlake home place that Randy and Debby had lived in. He was making this area his home and the Homestead was now in his blood. Randy off-handedly mentioned to me that Tyler had been a “Godsend.”
Tyler knows his business and now knows the Homestead. He is making it his own with some minor changes to the menu and upgrades to the facility. However, I do know a few folks who might take up arms if he messed with their “nanner puddin’.”
An experienced wait staff, many who have been there longer than Tyler, and the support of kitchen managers with 20-plus years of service for food purchase and prep keep the Homestead running smoothly. On any given week they may cut up to 1,000 pounds of beef and have their full-time event manager juggling multiple events.
Tyler said he is “blessed to have the employees” that he has. He has the same welcoming smile when you arrive and asks all the right questions, whether you are ordering for yourself or need to reserve one of the 12 banquet rooms or the Festival House. The Homestead is so well respected in the region that it even catered the staff dinner for the Angus Barn. From what I learned about Tyler Faucette, the Homestead Steakhouse is in good hands for years to come as a destination restaurant and will continue the legacy that Randy and Debby Cash started.
205 Frank Timberlake Rd
Timberlake, NC, 27583
Learn more about the author at https://ncvamedia.com/authors/paul-liggitt/