It was my first payday at a new job, and I was pretty excited to be taking my family out for supper. We were sitting at a red light and talking about our options while my wife scrolled through Facebook when the inevitable happened. “The All In has their fish and chips AND barbecue on special tonight!”
Wouldn’t you know it, I was already pointed in that direction!
This wasn’t an unusual turn of events, at least not for our family. I fancy myself to be a pretty good cook, and we have a terrific selection of restaurants around Lewis County, but not a week goes by that my wife doesn’t ask me to guess what’s on special at The All In. For the record, we ordered one of each, shared with our daughter, and had enough left-overs for lunch the next day.
Tuesdays through Sundays, you can find owners Devona “Dee” and Aaron Bartlett doing what they’ve been doing since 2004, making great food, serving cold drinks, and gathering with their community at Onalaska’s The All In. If you ask Aaron what you might expect for a great experience at The All In, he’ll tell you “90 percent of the time, when someone walks in, they’ll be greeted by Dee, the owner and true heart and soul of The All In.”
You’ll find there is so much more than rustic decor and friendly service as well. For the BEST experience, Aaron recommends two things. First, order the double bacon cheeseburger. “I feel like everyone has had a double bacon cheeseburger, or seen one, or at least has an idea of what to expect,” he says. “But few first-timers expect to see OUR double bacon cheeseburger. I would guess that hundreds of them have been photographed and shared on the internet… I smile each time I see someone pull their phone out.”
The second recommendation is to join the crowd for a Seahawks game. “Our fans are as good as ANYWHERE,” Aaron says. “We have huge turnouts and great times. We play the national anthem before each game, and have our flag flying for people during the anthem.”
As a repeat customer myself, I have to say that Aaron is pretty well right on the money, because it’s difficult to imagine a much better time than one of their double bacon cheeseburgers with homemade, hand-cut fries, surrounded by our fellow true to the Blue fans.
At this point, I can hear what you might be thinking: Isn’t The All In a bar? Well, you’re not wrong, but only half right. “From the very beginning,” says Aaron, “we focused on making the best food we could. Our menu has grown and evolved over the past 15 years. We always knew The All In would never be a big fancy steakhouse, but we have ALWAYS believed we could be a place for you to get a great steak at a fair price and leave satisfied.”
The truth is, I could go on and on about the food – the real burger patties made from fresh Reichert’s ground beef, the hand battered fish, the off-menu specials you’ll find on their Facebook page and on the board in the bar – but The All In really makes its mark in community involvement and outreach.
The All In is open on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and while they don’t offer their daily menu for the holidays, they do prepare a “huge traditional meal, served family style, free of charge.”
In Aaron’s mind, that’s just the decent thing to do. “I refuse to have someone spend the holiday hungry or alone because they don’t have money,” he says.
I have enjoyed going to their annual fireworks display with my family. I’ve also been astonished at their efforts over the past couple of years with their “clear the tree” events. The first year they worked with Brenda’s Country Market “to make sure every name that was placed on that tree got a Christmas Gift,” Aaron says.
Last year, Aaron and Dee worked directly with the school and the Onalaska Alliance, took responsibility for half the list, and spent 13 hours shopping for Christmas Gifts with money they had raised through donations and functions at the bar. I’m given to understand that it was quite the wrapping party afterward.
The All In – and its owners – are amazing. Their ties to the community are a reflection of the importance of their investment. Over the years, they’ve come to build friendships and unite people in a way that can rarely be understood outside of small communities like the hometowns of Lewis County. I would encourage you to come out and be a part of that.
Enjoy some good food, make new friends, watch the game and relish the joy of community – because they’re making more than great food at The All In; they’re making memories. Who doesn’t want to be All In on that?