Popular Baxter Springs restaurant reopens under new management

 Daily, Kansas  Comments Off on Popular Baxter Springs restaurant reopens under new management
Dec 142014
 

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Shirley Sharbutt and Paula Suman used to frequent Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs and were disappointed when it closed suddenly about two years ago. But during the past several months, they noticed a remodel was under way.

“Finally, we drove by one day and saw that it was open,” said Sharbutt, of Miami, Oklahoma. She and Suman stopped by the recently re-opened restaurant for the first time last week.
On Wednesday morning, workers at the cafe, 1101 Military Ave., were busy preparing for the lunch rush. Customers began walking in soon after the doors opened at 11 a.m., and the phone rang several times as groups called to make reservations.
The restaurant had been a landmark on Route 66 since opening in May 1998, and gained national fame in 2007 when it was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with host Guy Fieri.
In early 2013, an announcement that the Baxter restaurant was closing was abrupt, as winners of holiday gift certificates had been announced just a few weeks before.
Managed by Amy Sanell, Cafe on the Route was known for its eclectic lunch and dinner menu of “traditional American with a twist” created by her husband, Chef Richard Sanell, an executive chef who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City.

The reason for its sudden closing were never made clear, but since then, Tim and Julie Potter, of Miami, Oklahoma, have purchased the restaurant and renovations began in July. It opened Nov. 18 and is being managed by executive chef Charles Bowen and house manager Michelle Haynes.
“Everybody just loves that we’ve opened back up,” Haynes said. “We’ve had a big turnout so far. For a small community, we were really surprised.”
While the Route 66 tourism season isn’t yet in full swing, Haynes said she has already received reservations from motorcycle groups, and a group of 35 planned to hold its Christmas party at the cafe.
As he prepped food items in the kitchen, Bowen discussed everything it takes to make a meal something exceptional.
“With every fiber, I believe great food begins with a thousand tiny steps,” he said. But Bowen hasn’t always focused his efforts on building the perfect meal.

A structural engineer turned chef, Bowen has a Ph.D. and taught engineering at Oklahoma State University for six years. He also has been involved in the remodel of the cafe, which has new appliances in its kitchen and an antique-style dining area with tall ceilings and exposed brick walls.
“I gave up a six-figure job for one half the pay and double the hours,” he said. “My fingers hurt, I burn myself and my feet hurt. But I enjoy coming to work every day. I love what I do, and I’m passionate about what I do. This is what makes me tick.”
Bowen went to culinary school in New York City and also went to France to study bread baking.
“I probably have 700 cookbooks and still study 20 hours a week,” he said.
And although his background is in fine dining, Bowen describes his cooking at Cafe on the Route as made-from-scratch comfort food.

The fettuccini alfredo is made-to-order, he said, and the meatballs are house made and have parmesan cheese inside them. The cafe’s fries are hand-cut Idaho potatoes. The onion strings and chicken-fried steak are hand battered. And the restaurant has its own smoker for brisket, sausage and ribs.
Suman, of Quapaw, Oklahoma, said she and Sharbutt ate at the cafe quite a bit before it closed.
“They had a pretty good menu,” Suman said. “We’re hoping this is good.”
“If it’s good, we’ll be back,” Sharbutt added.

History
The building that houses Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs, which originally was home to the Crowell Bank, is of the Civil War era. It is said to have been robbed in 1876 by Jesse James and Cole Younger.

By Katie Lamb – The Joplin Globe

First look at the new Front Street Garage sign

 Daily, Kansas  Comments Off on First look at the new Front Street Garage sign
Jun 242014
 

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I am starting to put together a project plan on what needs to be done to the building, when to do it and what it will cost me.

The Front Street Garage sign, to me, was the first priority.

I have contracted Doug and Sharon Quarles of Quarles Art Gallery in Benson AZ to work on this one with me. We all know them from all of the work they have done in Tucumcari with the murals, buildings and signs they have helped paint over the years. These murals and the many other things the Quarles have painted are one of the many projects which helped make Tucumcari the destination it now is. I have worked with Doug on a few projects and could not think of any other artists to work with.

I showed Doug the picture of the station in 1941 and I wanted him to recreate the sign to as close as original as possible BUT at the same time, make it a little more sharp and crisp as if a professional painted it taking their time and putting some care into it – versus someone grabbing some board and just painting a sign.

The sign is 2′ tall be 4′ wide and will hang where the original sign was. I knew the original colors but wanted to make the background of the sign a dark green as I think it just looks classic this way.

I will have the sign shipped from Arizona to Allen Sign Studio in Miami OK for them to create the bracket which will support the sign and will be able to mount it. The sign will be put up (hopefully) later this year / early next year as I really need to focus on the facade of the building.

FSG-signHere is the pic of what the original sign looked like. I think it is important to try to keep this building looking as period correct as possible….

Doug will be doing most of the sign work as well as a few other things, I will do some painting and other things with the building and Allen Sign Studio will help me restore the original neon sign from the late 40’s which I also want to hang on the front of the building.

More to come…

Route 66 Preservationist to write book about Route 66 in Kansas

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May 032014
 










Route 66 Preservationist Ed Klein announced today he is to author a book about Route 66 through the state of Kansas. The approval for the book came from Arcadia Publishing who has over 9,000 books in their catalog, most written by locals and first time authors. The book will be titled ‘Route 66 in Kansas’ which will be part of their ‘Images of America’ series and is due for release mid 2015. It will cover the early mining days of southeast Kansas through present day Route 66.

Ed Klein is the owner of the website Route 66 World (www.route66world.com) which is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and education of Route 66. He was researching information on several projects with locations ranging from Joplin, a building in Kansas and another project in Oklahoma.

“I scoured the internet and finding the information for Joplin and Oklahoma was much easier than finding certain bits and pieces about a location in Kansas I was working on. I then checked to see if there were actually any books written about Route 66 in Kansas and to my surprise, there were none.”

Klein contacted Arcadia Publishing to check to see if there were any books in the works for Route 66 in the state of Kansas, and they responded with a ‘no, but what do you think about writing a book about the route in Kansas?’

Kansas has the shortest stretch of Route 66 of all the eight states it runs through. Less than thirteen miles connects Kansas from Joplin Missouri to Quapaw Oklahoma, two towns which have been affected by tornadoes and in both occasions, Klein has helped by donating much needed funds to local relief efforts.

Route 66 is not only about the old motels, the diners and the gift shops, it is also about saving history and places so many travelers around the world come to see and experience. It is very easy to have a business close down or suffer a catastrophic loss like this, keeping them open is the hard part!” Klein adds.

‘On the Fourth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’

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Dec 152013
 

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The Town of Galena Kansas

There are only a few towns where I have spent several days total and really get to know and see the town.

I have spent most of my time in Bloomington IL, then Tucumcari NM and a close third would be Galena KS.
I have had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time in the Cars on the Route, the new Bordello, the Howard Litch Memorial Park, the Galena Mining and Historical Museum, the Streetcar Station and XTreme Wingz for some pretty good sandwiches.

I have also had the privilege of seeing a lot of other buildings either in their remodel phase, or even when they were sitting empty or not being used for anything that anyone would stop in and see.

I had the honor to get driven around Galena in a 1919 Ford Model T for about an hour – and was shown a few historical sites in town.

I do know the town is planning on continuing their streetscape plan which the northern part of Route 66 in town has been part of the first phase.

They have a great new mural now and are still planning on growing the town to make it a ‘destination’ versus a photo op.

You can check out their Facebook site by clicking the link https://www.facebook.com/Route66GalenaKS

Route 66 tourist attraction close to wrapping up overhaul

 Daily, Kansas  Comments Off on Route 66 tourist attraction close to wrapping up overhaul
May 062013
 




I spent about 45 minutes with Melba walking thru the new station and the bordello and even thru Galena itself checking out all the new progress going on….

GALENA, Kan. — After six months of renovations, the owner of a popular Route 66 landmark is looking forward to reopening later this month.

Cars on the Route — formerly called Four Women on the Route — has been closed since October so that crews could do what owner Renee Charles described as “pretty heavy-duty, full-scale renovations.”

“We ripped out everything,” she said.

The eatery and souvenir shop, located at the corner of Old Route 66 and Main Street in Galena, is a former Kan-O-Tex service station. Four women — Charles, Betty Courtney, Melba Rigg and Judy Courtney — purchased and overhauled it in 2006.

They were hoping it would help with the rebirth of the town, and it did. About 4,000 visitors, foreign and domestic, stopped there last year, said Charles, who is active in Route 66 preservation and also serves as the Galena city clerk.

In recent years, she took over ownership of the business with a silent partner, and she decided last fall that the building “needed a bit of face-lifting.”

Rigg will continue to help operate the business.

When it is finished, Cars on the Route will feature new restrooms, new concrete, a new asphalt parking lot, an improved kitchen, a revised menu, neon signs, and an expanded section of memorabilia and Route 66 items for sale.

Out front, Charles is planning additional cars that play off the Pixar movies “Cars” and “Cars 2.” One of the business’s biggest draws has been Tow Tater, a rusty, antique tow truck from which “Cars” director John Lasseter drew inspiration for the character Tow Mater. Schoolchildren and other visitors often pose for photos by the truck.

“He’s getting company,” Charles said. “We are going to get a car like Sheriff’s, Red the Fire Truck will get a face-lift, and we are working on a Doc Hudson.”

While tourist season began picking up about the first or second week of April, Charles said the business’s closure didn’t deter any groups from stopping.

“We still had them stop to take pictures and look,” she said. “We had 68 Australians on motorcycles and several bus tours, including one from England.”

Bordello project

Work also has been under way across the street on the northeast corner of the intersection, where developer Brian Jordan has been restoring a historic bordello. Renee Charles said she hopes the two newly renovated sites will be mutually beneficial when it comes to attracting tourists.

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni – The Joplin Globe

13 Miles of Route 66 in Kansas now is ‘Historic Byway’

 Daily, Kansas  Comments Off on 13 Miles of Route 66 in Kansas now is ‘Historic Byway’
Nov 302011
 




Note: When I talked to a few folks in Kansas who are involved with the route a few months ago – they mentioned this was one of the things they were really focusing their efforts on… and it seemed to pay off!! Congrats on this! It takes the route through Kansas to a whole new level!

The state has designated 13 miles of Route 66 in southern Kansas as a Kansas Historic Byway.

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced the designation Tuesday for the route, which runs through Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs in Cherokee County before reaching the Oklahoma border.

Scott Shields, a coordinator for the Kansas State Byways program, says the designation encourages visitors and state residents to drive the route and explore communities along the way.

The original Route 66 stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles and was a major pathway for those who migrated west and later for tourists.

Historic Route 66 passes briefly through the State of Kansas on its was between Joplin, Missouri and Miami, Oklahoma. Though Kansas has the shortest stretch of the popular old route between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, the 13 miles of Route 66 in Kansas are among the best preserved and have many attractions.

©2011 The Republic

OctoberFest In The Park – on Route 66 in Galena

 Daily, Kansas  Comments Off on OctoberFest In The Park – on Route 66 in Galena
Sep 092011
 



Join the fun at the OctoberFest In The Park celebration on Old Route 66 in Galena, Kansas!




The festival will happen on Saturday October the 8th from 10am until 3pm!

Main Street & Route 66
Pappy Litch Park

Food & Drinks – Arts & Craft – Pumpkin Tent – Touch A Truck – Live Music and Dancing!

Art Walk on Main Street – Lots of Photo Ops!

BRING THE FAMILY FOR FALL FUN!

For more information call: 417.437.8132

Vendor Space is Still Available!

The money raised at the festival will go to existing and future preservation projects in town – so please show up and support this if you can!

For more additional information contact Melba Rigg at the Four Women on the Route station.
620.783.1366

Census numbers show decline in some SE Kansas towns

 Daily, Kansas  Comments Off on Census numbers show decline in some SE Kansas towns
Mar 032011
 


The newly released Census numbers show some Southeast Kansas communities have seen a decrease in population. Baxter Springs is one of those communities.
KOAM and FOX 14’s Zach Fletcher spoke to the Chamber of Commerce President, who says the numbers are a wake-up call.

Kansas counties in the KOAM viewing area all saw a decline in population except for Crawford County, which saw an increase of 1.64 %. The city with the biggest decrease in population in Cherokee County is Baxter Springs. It lost more than 450 people since the 2000 census. Those are numbers that shock Baxter Chamber of Commerce President Charlene Hunley.

Baxter has really seemed to grow in the last five years, tremendously. So I was surprised that the growth has gone the opposite direction.” says Hunley.
Hunley says some people are packing up and moving to the outskirts of Baxter, creating subdivisions outside the city limits.
She says even with the decrease in population, businesses are still coming to Baxter Springs.

“New restaurants that have come into town, we’ve got various other businesses. They may be small, but a small business or a large business is wonderful.” adds Hunley

Hunley says revitalization of the historic downtown area helps bring businesses to Baxter Springs.

Even though the census numbers are down business owner Richard Sanell isn’t discouraged.

“I want to keep a watchful eye of course to make sure we’re still intriguing individuals to make the step. They’ve lived in Joplin for four or five years to give Baxter Springs a thought to move into.” says Sanell

Richard Sanell, owner of cafe on the route says he’s actually seen an increase in business.

“The longer you’re at a place, especially a restaurant the more you get to know the community you grow a reputation. Lets look at Chicken Mary’s and Chicken Annie’s.” adds Sanell

Hunley says in order to make Baxter Springs, grow it will take a community effort.

“I think that’s going to be our main goal is to get our number up and get people in here that want to live in Baxter.” says Hunley.

And with those goals the City of Baxter tries to get people back on Old Route 66.