COUNCIL GROVE — The historic Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern located in Council Grove has new ownership and management effective this week.
Wichita's Stuart Collier is joining Council Grove's Doug and Sherri Wilkerson in the ownership change. They are all members of two long-time Morris County families, and completed the purchase from Galen and Lori Fink and Bill and Debbie Miller. Both Finks and Millers will continue as minority interest owners in the business.
“We are excited about the opportunity to own a piece of the history of Council Grove and the Santa Fe Trail,” Collier said in making the announcement. “The interest in the history of this area is dramatically increasing as more people are discovering the beauty of the Flint Hills and this entire region. We believe we can provide local residents and visitors to this area with a unique dining experience in what is reputed to be the oldest continuously operated restaurant west of the Mississippi River and the second oldest continuously operated restaurant in the United States.”
Wilkersons’ Flint Hills Bakery and Smokehouse will be converted to a full-time retail bakery, under the name Hays House Bakery, and will support the day-to-day operations of the Hays House Restaurant.
“Combining the two businesses will let us better serve the needs of our local community and visitors as well as expand the services we offer in terms of locally produced food products and meeting the catering needs of this area,” Doug Wilkerson noted.
“We are committed to building on the historic heritage of the Hays House,” Sherri Wilkerson added. “We realize the Hays House really belongs to this community and we are privileged to be caretakers of it. We look forward to working with the local community to grow this business in the coming years.”
The historic Hays House is re-opening after its reorganization on Thursday, May 5th. Retail hours for the Hays House Restaurant will be Sunday through Thursday 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 6:00am till 10pm. Retail hours for the Hays House Bakery will be daily from 5 till 11am.