It was always Lance’s dream to attend culinary school and open a restaurant.
Lance and his friends were always cruising around Yates Center, finding themselves congregating in front of the vacant Dollar General building. Like many times before, Lance told his friends he was going to buy the vacant building, and open a restaurant. They didn’t always believe it, but on this night Lance was adamant about it. It was this point in time, Lance decided to really make it happen. Lance’s mother was employed by the Woodson County Office of Kansas State Research and Extension, where Lance would always go after school and hang out. Lance was walking the office mail to the post office, and decided to stop by the local PSI office, where one of the city councilmen worked. During the conversation, Lance expressed his long-term desire to reside in Yates Center, to eventually marry, and raise a family. He shared his vision of purchasing the vacant Dollar General building, to open a good home-style restaurant to better serve the Yates Center community. The city councilman was receptive, indicating the city council might be open to hearing his proposal.
Both Lance’s mother and father have always been very supportive of his dreams but knew this would be a huge commitment for everyone involved. They sat down with Lance, discussing his plans in depth, working out all the details, ultimately agreeing to proceed with starting a Home-Style restaurant to serve Yates Center and the surrounding community. During the next city council meeting, Lance presented his FCCLA competition portfolio, along with his vision for the restaurant. Lance was very nervous, uncertain what the city council would decide. After contemplation and discussion, the city council decided to grant Lance’s family the building, along with certain restrictions, such as the building must be utilized as a restaurant for at least five years.
Lance’s dreams were actually turning into a reality. He was very excited to be opening a restaurant, but was somewhat overwhelmed with trying to get his animals ready to show at the Kansas State Fair and Kansas Junior Livestock Show at the same time. So Much to do, seemingly so little time.
The Journey really begins…
The Dollar General building was essentially an empty shell, requiring Lance and his family to start from scratch with furnishings, cabinets, interior décor, kitchen equipment and many other items required to start a restaurant. Luckily for Lance, a local restaurant closed a few months prior, providing an opportunity to purchase the entire building contents. Lance and his family were able to complete a lot of interior work by themselves before hiring Cats Can Do Kids, thru a local high school program. Cats Can Do Kids built cabinets, countertops, and completed other carpentry work to help build out the restaurant. The construction process took a lot of time and hard work, but they got the job done. Next, they made the decision to serve home-style food like Grandma used to make, which naturally goes hand in hand with rustic décor. After considering several restaurant names, Lance and his family decided upon “The Feedbunk”, an excellent reflection upon rural Kansas and Cattle country.
Prior to the restaurant opening, Lance had the opportunity to travel to Nashville for a National Star Entrepreneur competition through FCCLA. He competed previously at the local and state level, which allowed Lance the opportunity compete at the National level. Lance presented The Feedbunk as his competition portfolio, speaking for 20 minutes explaining every aspect of the restaurant concept. As one of the top three runners up, Lance earned a Gold Medal. Upon return to Yates Center, The Feedbunk’s new building was finally ready to go. Now it was time to create a full menu, meet with food vendors to explore options, and make final choices which our customers would appreciate and enjoy. Once this task was complete, The Feedbunk sought out a great team to staff the restaurant. Finally, The Feedbunk opened its doors on March 19th, 2009, at 6:30 a.m., just by turning on the OPEN sign, without any advertisements.
This all happened 2 ½ months before Lance graduated high school. The first several months of operation were very crazy, sometimes overwhelming, but most definitely a positive learning process for Lance and his Family. The support from the community and surrounding areas was absolutely amazing. Everyone kept saying they couldn’t believe how busy we were. Lance’s mother continued working her full-time job, while also working part-time at the restaurant. She came in before work, over her lunch break, and then again after work, working until the restaurant closed for the day. After an entire year of doing this, she decided to work at the restaurant full-time.
After Lance graduated from high school, he attended Allen County Community College for 1 ½ years, before transferring to Washburn Institute of Technology (Topeka) to pursue a culinary arts program. While attending Washburn, Lance participated in a baking class competition, which he won, allowing the opportunity to compete at the state level. The baking competition lasted 6 hours, requiring Lance to demonstrate his proficiency making different types of bread, yeast rolls, sweet rolls, cookies, as well as, decorating a cake, and making a pie. Lance won 1st place gold at the state level, advancing to the national competition in Kansas City. Although Lance did not place in the state completion, the overall experience was very exciting, a welcome challenge, and a great learning experience. Lance graduated from Washburn Institute of Technology in December of 2011.
The Feedbunk has been open for 7 years and is still going strong. Lance’s dream became a reality, even more than he ever expected it to be! We are very proud of our 26 outstanding employees, who we consider Our Feedbunk family. We are also proud to provide jobs to such a great community, where everyone knows everybody. Over the years, we formed many friendships with customers who have visited The Feedbunk, some as far away as California, Washington, Florida, and all across the United States. The Feedbunk is well known for Homestyle Cookin’ Like Grandma’s, hearty portions, reasonable prices, friendly staff, rustic décor featuring state license plates displayed on our walls, and our Kids Corral, an area where kids can play until the food arrives at the table. Parents rave about the Kids Corral, as it allows the adults to have a conversation while the kids play in the Corral.
If you haven’t made it to Yates Center to see us, we hope our story will inspire you to come check us out. The Feedbunk is located on the south side of the historical Yates Center Kansas town square, just look for the red awning.
Remember: No dream is out of reach if you really set your mind to it.
Lance Hopes to see you all soon at The Feedbunk !!