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Tea Steak House receives Lifetime Achievement Award: Reliabank named Business of the Year by Chamber

Last week on Dec. 1, 2021, Tea Chamber for Development hosted their annual meeting and also presented several awards. The event was held at Prairie View Event Hall in Tea.

For the first time the Tea Chamber presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. The distinct honor went to Tea’s longtime business owners Jim and Lisa Ihnen of the Tea Steak House.

Earlier this summer the Tea Steak House and O’Toole’s Bar were listed for sale and just last month the purchase was finalized with Boss’ Pizzeria and Sports Bar taking over the location, set to open soon.

Jim and Lisa have been running the Steak House for the past 35 years, taking ownership in 1986. Their son Jesse and his wife Sarah have been working along side them for 25 years. Prior to that, Jim’s parents, Lloyd and Rickie Ihnen ran the Steak House from 1965 - 1986.

“It’s nice to know that you’ve done something people appreciate,” Jim said.

Tea Chamber President Ruby Zuraff of Roos Sanitation said, “At our annual meeting we presented the Ihnen’s of Tea Steak House the lifetime achievement award. They have done so much for our community and we have had numerous events either at their location or catered by them. Thanks for everything!”

That wasn’t the only award of the night though, Reliabank of Tea was also recognized for their community support.

Zuraff said, “We also presented our business of the year award to Reliabank; they go above and beyond for Tea and for the Tea Area School District! Thanks for all you do to make this community what it is!”

Reliabank Tea Branch Manager and Business Banker Erik Barnes was on hand that evening to accept the award. Barnes has been with Reliabank for four years.

“Reliabank is very grateful to receive this award from the Tea Chamber for Development,” said Barnes. “We are very fortunate to have a great staff at the bank that really takes pride in knowing each customer and taking care of their needs. During the past two years there have been countless state and federal grant and loan programs for businesses to navigate.”

Barnes continued, “Reliabank was put in a position to play a key role in guiding businesses through these programs to deliver funds directly to our local business owners in a timely fashion when they needed it most. Overall, Reliabank is very grateful to be a part of the growing business community here in Tea.”

Businesses were nominated by community members and other businesses for the Business of the Year Award. A panel then made a selection from those nominations.

Tea Chamber Officers include: Ruby Zuraff (Roos Sanitation) President, Mike Stephenson (Ameri-Star Real Estate, Inc.) Vice President, Adam Birger (Servpro) Secretary, and Erik Barnes (Reliabank) Treasurer. Chamber Board of Directors include: Jennifer Lowery (Tea Area School District), Linda Kokenge (Zook’s Coffee Bar), Andrea Kuipers (Squealer’s Smoke Shack), Joel Christopherson (Security National Bank), and Bryan Youngstrom (Fareway Foods).

To learn more about the Tea Chamber for Development and see a list of current business members visit


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