When you've just gotta have a burger and fries, this West Lawrence hangout has your prescription.
In one of life's little ironic twists of fate, my husband had just had his blood drawn for a cholesterol check before we took a booth at the newly re-opened Kaspar's Bar and Grill.
We had to laugh. Everything we ordered was fried: fried jalapenos and onions, fried potatoes, fried potato chips, fried burgers. It was enough to make the arteries clog on the spot, but who cares?
Kaspar's, originally opened about eight years ago by Rose and Kaspar Flueck and recently purchased by Topekans Lyle and Martha Pence, is no trendy bistro. You won't find inventive "world cuisine" on the tri-fold, photocopied menu. You won't find carefully planned designer clutter. This is a clean, friendly neighborhood hangout. This is the real deal.
"We fell in love with the atmosphere," said Martha Pence. "We wanted that everybody-knows-everybody-else kind of place."
The Pences ran the First Bite sandwich shop and deli in downtown Topeka for more than 10 years before someone made them an offer they couldn't refuse. So they looked to the east for "a more business-friendly atmosphere."
When the Pences took over in September, they maintained Kaspar's popular "Karaoke Saturday Nights" and expanded Carol Dressler's Open Mike Night from one Sunday night each month to two.
"She had so many entertainers lined up, she couldn't fit them in just one evening, so I said, 'Why not have two?'" Martha Pence said.
Open Mike Nights are from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. the first and third Sunday of each month.
The Pences also kept Kaspar's basic menu of grill classics -- fresh hamburgers and freshly breaded tenders -- and the place's renowned specialty -- homemade potato chips.
"I learned that you don't walk away when the chips are in the fryer," Martha declared.
Kaspar's homemade chips are a treat that must be tried. Ditto for the burgers.
"I think every city needs a great hamburger and fries, even if (you go) just every once in a while," Martha Pence said.
Kaspar's isn't fancy, but neither are the prices: $2.85 for a basic cheeseburger; $5.45-$5.65 for more elegant sandwiches like the California Reuben, which are served with your choice of fries, chips, potato salad, soup or salad.
Martha Pence said Kaspar's will be adding desserts, a child's menu and daily specials. She's also "contemplating healthier items" for patrons with a fear of frying.
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