BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. - It's been a whirlwind the past week or so for Amy and Richard Sanell and their staff at Café on the Route, the eccentric little dining establishment located in the old Crowell Bank Building on Military Avenue in the historic southeast Kansas cowtown.
The Sanells' eating establishment will receive a visit this week from a production crew working for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, a Food Network show that airs Monday nights on the cable network at 9 p.m.
The show is hosted by Guy Fieri, co-owner of a small restaurant chain and the winner of the Food Network's contest The Next Food Network Star in 2006. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is filming its second season. The segment shot at Café on the Route should be shown in a Route 66 series that will air in approximately six months, according to Cat Figgins, a researcher and coordinator with Page Productions, the producer of the travelogue show. A production crew with the show is scheduled to arrive Tuesday.
“We're very busy getting ready,” said Amy Sanell as she stood behind a service counter last week in the 54-seat restaurant at 1101 Military Avenue. “I haven't had a minute to spare in the past few days.”
And with that she is gone to Joplin, looking for decorations, no time for an eager reporter.
Not with the nationally televised show on the way, making changes and printing a new menu, supervising ongoing renovations to the building owned by the Sanell's next door, operating a bed-and-breakfast upstairs, and running a busy, and soon to be nationally noticed, restaurant.
“We have a number of ways for getting leads on restaurants for the show, and I'm not sure how we came upon the Café on the Route, but it's competitive and they have to be special somehow,” Figgins said.
Could it be the producers of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives were attracted to Café on the Route by the story of how, in 1876, members of the James Gang robbed the Crowell Bank? Or that Baxter Springs is one of those charming little out of the way towns where a fine food dining establishment stands out like a Gucci suit under a Stetson?
After all the Café on the Route menu includes sure local favorites like strip and ribeye steak, grilled chicken, catfish, and fried onion, but all with a twist. The Baxter Springs Strip can be had with an avocado and pepper glaze and the flap jack ribeye stuffed with onions, mushrooms and Provolone and topped with a chopped tomato sauce. , Grilled chicken is adorned with a raspberry garlic sauce and the catfish is crusted in cornmeal, almonds and walnuts. The Tobacco Onions are fine slivers, flour crusted, fried and crisp.
“These are just the kind of things we're looking for, something different, something unique, things that take the traditional to a new level,” Figgins said.