Friday, April 24, 2009

A gathering of icons

Yesterday was a really neat day. When I look at this picture I just smile. See the woman in the rocker? That's Mae of Guy and Mae's -- the famous barbecue place in tiny Williamsburg. On the left, the woman in pink is Carolyn Bontrager, owner of Carolyn's Essenhaus in Arlington.

We announced the top 24 finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine yesterday and invited owners or representatives of the 24 restaurants to attend. They only knew that they were one of the 24, they didn't know the other 23 yet.

We elongated the suspense by explaining the project and who the Kansas Sampler Foundation is. Then finally we did a power point to announce the 24, alphabetical order, one at a time. This was a congenial group and they clapped after each finalist was revealed.

The wonderful reaction was that these restaurant owners wanted to go eat at the other finalists. In fact, we got a taste of some of the restaurants after the presentation! Dan Doerge from the Hays House brought their famous strawberry pie, the Hibachi Hut brought bread pudding with whiskey sauce, and Guy and Mae's brought ribs!!! Von Rothenberger brought meat and cheese from Brant's Meat Market (a Commerce top 8 winner).

It was like a who's who of iconic restaurants. Owners represented Hays House, Cozy Inn, Bobo's, Grand Central, Anchor Inn, Trapper's, Paolucci's, Guy & Mae's, Carolyn's Essenhaus, Hibachi Hut, and Charlie's. Convention & Visitors Bureaus came for Brookville Hotel, Crawford County Fried Chicken, Crazy R's, Homer's, and Pho Hoa.

Some of these places have been open for decades and the original owners should be remembered and recognized.

What I hope happens is that people will go to as many of these places as possible this summer -- especially before the June 15 voting deadline. The diversity of our restaurants matches the diversity of our people and culture. From steak and potatoes to Vietnamese food, a person could get to know us just by eating across the state.

There are so many great places not on the list. Hopefully this can be a recognition for all the super locally-owned restaurants in the state and it'll be the "Year of the Locally-Owned Eateries."

"Get Kansas!" by eating at our locally-owned restaurants! How fun is that?

KE #2 Marci Penner


Unknown said...

Sounds like a great time, and thanks for adding to my list of places I want to check out!

Unknown said...

What a great time that must have been! So sorry I could not make it. I'm thinking this should generate a huge amount of press and interest. Glad I could be involved in even a very small way...