Pratt — A co-owner of a farm machinery business has taken over a landmark restaurant in this south-central Kansas town and hopes to have it reopened soon.
Marvin Pfeifer, co-owner of Kincheloe’s Inc., a farm machinery sales and service business north of Pratt, acknowledges he has no experience running a restaurant. But the longtime customer of Donald’s Servateria has bought the buffet-style restaurant, calling it “a business adventure.”
“I ate breakfast there every morning for 10 years,” Pfeifer said. “We wanted to keep it going.”
The restaurant on U.S. Highway 54 closed in December, after 56 years in business. It had opened in 1952 under the name Gerald’s. According to local lore, it was the first restaurant buffet in the state.
Owner Donald Williams took over sometime later, renamed it and ran the business for 36 years until ill health forced him to sell. After a couple of other owners, the business closed.
The neon “Donald’s Servateria” sign in front has stood for all those years. The buffet-style restaurant has served customers at birthday parties, class reunions and snowbirds headed for their southern winter homes.
Former waitresses Darla Crumm and Delia Diaz have taken over as co-managers and helped renovate the restaurant. The work included gutting the kitchen and adding new plumbing and wiring.
Pfeifer expects to reopen the restaurant in the next week, under the name The Famous Servateria.
“I’m sure it will be an adventure for a while, like anything else,” he said. “It’s been everyone’s favorite place to eat for a long, long time.”
Customers also are waiting for the place to reopen.
Jerry Angood, 83, said he has missed his twice-a-day coffee stop in the months since Donald’s closed.
“I keep driving by to see if there are any signs up,” he said.