FORK IN THE ROAD: Get a taste of history at Trail Days Café and Museum

Live at Five
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Council Grove restaurant gives its customers both a meal and a look at history.

The Trail Days Cafe and Museum, located at 803 west Main St., first opened so its customers across the region and U.S. could learn more about Kansas’ past. Ken McClintock describes himself as the Cafe’s assistant manager and the Museum’s storyteller.

“We get people from all over the world,” said McClintock. “We have had, last year, people from 12 different countries, 45 different states, 65 different Kansas counties. I tell them the history of the place, I answer questions, tell them stories, I am the storyteller here, entertain them as well as feed them. That is one of our biggest points is to immerse them in history. That is why the sign out front says history comes alive here.”

The museum is filled with photographs and artifacts each with a description about them and the life each had. McClintock even said they have 5 photographs of each past resident of the house that has since transformed into a café.

“This house that we are standing in was built in 1861, on the wall behind me here are photographs of two of the people who actually lived here and we have about 5 photographs of people who actually lived in the house,” McClintock said.

However, when it comes to the food, Shirley McClintock says they try to make it truly authentic.

“Our food is special,” said Shirley. “It is as authentic to the past as we can make it. We try to get our meat grass-fed, free-range like it was back in the day. I try to prepare it from scratch as much as possible. I try to get authentic recipes, so we try to truly give you as best as we can a taste of history here.”

Items on their menu include Native American recipes; such as elk and bison with authentic Native American bread, according to Shirley McClintock. However, the Café and Museum also offers food from other global regions; from German Schnitzel to Italian Spaghetti.

Shirley says providing food for guests and making them feel connected to the past is the best.

“I love to be in the kitchen, and it was a wonderful experience,” said Shirley. “I am 80 years old and when people come here so many times they say “Oh, this is just like my grandma’s house,” and Ken and I are kind of like grandma and grandpa, so you come to our house, and we welcome you here. We love people and we enjoy serving people and sharing history and our delicious food.”

Malcolm Strom is 104 years old and a frequent customer at Trail Days. According to him, he enjoys going to a restaurant with good food and one that enlightens others about Kansas’ history.

“It is a good place where you get good information about things you do not normally hear,” said Strom. “Ken knows the history from here to kingdom come.”

“When I come here, I am part of their history,” Strom said. “Occasionally, I happen to know something about some history that they have not heard. They talk about history, they have a lot of good history, and they are willing to share it.”

The Cafe and Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but it is closed on Sundays.

To check out more about the Trail Days Cafe and Museum, click here.

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