Fork in the Road: The Olpe Chicken House

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OLPE, Kan. (WIBW) To stop and ask for directions is all but a thing of past these days thanks to GPS, however, back in the day, Emporia toll booth workers had to know three things to properly do their duties — how to take tickets, make change and tell people to get to Olpe, Kansas.

It takes a small army to prepare for the day ahead when you’ve got seating capacity of more than 320. Before the rooster crows, the crew is already up stirring, baking, breading, prepping, grilling, pressing, and more for the day ahead.

It’s a routine server Margaret Wille is more than use to because it’s been a part of her life for the past 51 years. After more than a half-century, she’s mastered *nearly* every aspect of her job.

"I can tell you what they drink, what they order, what their salad dressing is, but I can't remember their names,” said Wille.

Nobody cares what she calls them as long as the food is good — and Margaret’s special relationship with the Chicken House’s head cook ensures that nothing but the best keeps rolling out of the back.

"Once and a while he happens to give me a frown, but he does that to a lot of the girls too," according to Wille.

But it's a friendly frown cast by Matt Wille, who happens to be Margaret’s son. He started at the Chicken House as a dishwasher some 37-years ago.

Every month, 2,500 pieces of poultry are dipped, battered and breaded from the Chicken House Kitchen. All freshly made to order and plated just as the customers want it, without a single ticket hanging from above. Matt makes all the orders by memory.

Manning the friers and grill is just part of Matt’s duties.

"There's side work to do like peeling potatoes, and he told you about our onion rights that we do every week," said Matt.

They go through about 150 pounds of homemade rings a week — that’s 600 pounds of onions a month, to go along with the 5,000 pounds of potatoes, 80-100 homemade pies, and at least 500 Chicken fried steaks.

While it would save a lot of dough to buy everything pre-made, second generation owners Larry and Charlotte Colbe say that’s not the Chicken House way.

The Chicken House has been ran by the Colbe family since 1958. Larry and Charlotte took over day-to-day operations from Larry’s parents, Leonard and Theresa back in 1994.

Family owned and operated for 60 years, the Olpe Chicken House is more than just a staple in their community. They are a tradition.

Open Monday through Saturday. From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.

They offer a full menu of items, not just chicken as well as a full catering menu.