Fork in the Road: Council Grove restaurant dubbed “oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi”

Live at Five
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - An old western themed restaurant, found right on the Santa Fe Trail, features local beef and friendly service.

The Hays House can be found in Council Grove, Kansas and has been deemed the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi, according to the executive chef and owner, Randall Dickson.

“We started in 1857,” said Dickson. “We kind of tried to keep the old west feeling, you know, we are right on the Santa Fe Trail.”

Dickson says to follow the western theme, the menu focuses on country western beef and modern-day meals.

“We do Midwestern classics,” said Dickson. “You know, we are in the heart of beef country, so we try to focus on our steaks, it is all from Kansas. You know, when they say local food, our steaks are local.”

“We got a Cowboy Cajun pasta, we have the 1857 Mac & Cheese, the Kanza Burger, we have the Wrangler Sandwich, S.E.H. Turkey Sandwich, we got all kinds of salads, Caeser salads, baby spinach, Steak Salad.”

Maesha Pool, the head server at the Hays House, has worked there for many years and says the restaurant offers a great atmosphere for customers and employees.

“It is just the atmosphere and our employees that we have, the owners are really awesome to work for,” Pool said. “They are just about the best employers that I have had for sure by far.”

“We do have a lot of really good locals; a lot of people know me by name. It is a really good environment to work in. I have worked here for several years now. I really enjoy it; it comes easy for me. Fast paced, that is what I really like to do.”

Yet, when it comes to food, Pool says the steak is delicious.

“We have really good steaks; we have really good prime rib,” according to Pool. “We have the smothered hamburger steak, we also have the Council Grove chuck wagon, we have the chef Randall’s pork chop, we have our bacon cheddar meatloaf, and our deep-fried beef tips.”

Pool described the restaurant as nothing more than amazing.

“This is amazing,” said Pool. “This is an amazing place. This is awesome and we enjoy that, that is what makes us smile.”

You can also check out their full menu at HaysHouse.com. The Hays House address is at 112 west Main St. in Council Grove.

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