Lifetime Achievement Rewards
Advancement opportunities and a supportive family atmosphere have kept some employees working at Angus Barn for half of their lives—or longer.
What do an events coordinator, a host/cashier, a human resources director, and a chef have in common?
An unwavering loyalty to Angus Barn, a Raleigh-based restaurant that’s as well known as the universities surrounding it. These hardworking pros have spent half of their lives working here to bring others countless special occasions, family gatherings, and holiday parties. Their stories about how they got to the restaurant are different, but their reasons for staying are similar. They’ve been able to advance their careers and make a good living at Angus Barn. And it’s been a good place to work.
Owners Van Eure and Steve Thanhauser have created an environment where employees feel supported and encouraged to grow. Most importantly, they feel cared for. Here are their stories.
Ali Thanhauser, Events Coordinator
Full transparency here: Thanhauser has been in the hospitality industry literally her entire life. Officially, it’s only been her career for about eight years, but her parents are Van and Steve. Thanhauser’s grandparents, Thad and Alice, operated Angus Barn before them. Like her mom, she has fond memories of helping out as a young girl.
“I would answer phones, and I would work in desserts because I wanted to eat the desserts,” she recalls. “It was more like a lot of fun. I would even bring my friends. They would come to work with me.”
She thought about being a chiropractor or a coach because of her years of playing volleyball. But ultimately, she stuck with what she knew. For a couple of years, she worked at a restaurant in Charleston, where she served as a member of the office staff and manager.
“That taught me a lot about myself and a lot about the way other families do things and [how] other general managers do things and management as a whole. They were amazing there,” she says. “I’m so glad I got to do that.”
While at times she has felt she had to work harder at Angus Barn to prove herself, Thanhauser says she loves the restaurant and tries to build trust and instill respect among her co-workers with her work ethic.
“I really do love what I do, and I really do work hard for it,” she says. “We’re on the front lines together, and we all have each other’s backs.”
Many at Angus Barn have known her since she was a little girl. And some of their children have even worked alongside her.
“It’s a really cool experience to have people who have known you your entire life, which I think is rare in a restaurant setting,” she says.
She also thinks that working in hospitality can teach you how to be a better person.
“The hospitality industry is a really special place to work,” she says. “At times it can be really difficult and challenging—and challenging beyond what you think that you can do yourself as far as the time of it, the energy that you put forth every single night. It’s hard on your body. It’s hard on you mentally. It tests your patience. It tests pretty much all of you all the time. It’s rewarding in a way that you have to put aside your own needs and your own wants because you are in service of others.”
Latasha Jolly, Cashier/Host/Office Staff
Jolly was a college student and an aspiring musician when she started waiting tables at Angus Barn. That was more than 20 years ago.
“I loved it. I loved what I was doing. It was just like working with family,” she says. “It was just an awesome place to work.”
Through the years, she worked in different departments, including as a member of the host staff, the management group, and the office team. Currently, she primarily works as a cashier. Her love for the job, the salary, and the family-friendly hours have kept her at Angus Barn.
“Years ago, it may not have been enough for someone to make a living in the hospitality industry. But now you can make a decent living in hospitality,” she says.
A self-described people person, Jolly says she genuinely enjoys meeting and serving people and being a part of their celebrations, which have included everything from engagements to divorces.
“To me, working in the hospitality industry is a really noble job because anybody can do it—but can you do it to the level where you truly create a memory for someone that they will never forget for the rest of their lives?”
But for all that Jolly has given to Angus Barn and its customers, she says she’s also been given a lot in return. Some years ago, her family faced tragedy. Her nephew, who was autistic, was in a house fire and died. He was with her mother and another nephew, who was severely burned. Their family home was destroyed.
“That was probably one of the toughest things that my family had to ever go through,” she recalls.
“Angus Barn showed up for me and my family big time,” she says.
Her co-workers sent supplies and food and donated money. They also ensured that her job was secure.
“When I came back to work, my job was right there for me,” Jolly says. “I don’t know what I would have done without them. Words cannot express how they showed up for me mentally, emotionally, and financially.”
And when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, her co-workers showed their support for her again.
“I can’t say enough good things about how they made my life so much easier going through that whole process,” she says. “I know for a fact that if anything was to ever happen to me or my family, they would be right there for me.”
Brian West, Chef
West has spent 20 of his 43 years at Angus Barn. First hired as a sauté cook, he was promoted to management in less than three years. He cites past chefs there as influential mentors whose advice guided him throughout his career.
From Walter Royal: Your heart must lay in the work you produce every single day. —From Jimmy Alfano: You are only as good as your last service. From Betty Shugart: You’re only on time if you’re 15 minutes early every day. Being on time is late. From his very first role as a busser and dishwasher, West was drawn to the kitchen. Its allure was gravitational for him.
“There was something magical about it,” he says. “It’s weird when I tell people this—they either understand where I’m coming from, or they don’t. But in a lot of ways, you’re regarded as like a doctor. Or people look at you in a certain way because you may or may not know how to do something that they don’t, but you’re making a living doing it.”
Despite the status that may come with being a chef, West says the work itself is humbling because the hours are long and it’s physically demanding. He has always challenged himself to exceed his own expectations.
“If there was a certain bar, I wanted to reach that bar, and I wanted the bar to be set higher for me,” he says. “I wanted to find ways to climb, to learn more, and to prove myself—not just to myself, but everyone else—that I’m capable of conquering whatever challenges are put there before me.”
He learned how to treat people respectfully at Angus Barn, and it’s another aspect of the job that’s kept him there for so long.
“People don’t yell at each other. People don’t throw pots and pans. People don’t curse at each other,” he says. “Their [Van’s and Steve’s] motto is ‘we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.’”
The staff exemplifies respect and care for others, he says.
When he threw out his back after returning from vacation last year, he says he felt no pressure to return to work before he was ready.
“I took nine extra days going into the first of the year, which is one of our busiest weeks of the year,” he says. “But it was nothing but constant support, from the owners to the kitchen. It was people reaching out to make sure I was OK and everyone pitching in to carry the weight that was missing to make the restaurant operate. There was never any negativity. It was, ‘We really want you to be in the right physical place before you return.’”
Marcia Felton, Human Resources Director
Felton’s first job was in hospitality while she was at NC State University studying industrial engineering. When she started working as a server at Angus Barn, she had no idea she’d still be there 43 years later. She remained at Angus Barn because it allowed her to be a stay-at-home mom by day while also providing career advancement opportunities.
“It worked into a nice career path. The opportunity to learn was really great, and I really like HR,” she says.
She served in several managerial roles throughout the restaurant before landing in HR. When she first started working at Angus Barn, there were about 200 people on staff. That number has doubled now. Like many of her co-workers, she stayed because it was a great place to work.
“Our management team is really good at understanding the needs outside of the workplace,” she says. “They really try to work with our staff the best that they can. And the coaching—we really do try to help each employee succeed here. It’s just wonderful to see people grow and learn and become proud of themselves.”
Felton says she’s learned so much about people by working in hospitality. It’s opened her mind to other ways of doing things and diverse perspectives.
“Everybody should experience hospitality at some point in their career,” she says. “I know it’s popular for younger people to get into hospitality, but if anybody who is established wants a new career way down the road, hospitality is there for them, too. It’s a fantastic field to experience.”
Interested in learning more about working in hospitality? Explore career opportunities now.