Sherry Brown owns Kansas Country Store with her husband, Don Brown.
Sherry Brown owns Kansas Country Store with her husband, Don Brown. Her parents purchased Santa Fe Depot from the Santa Fe Railroad in 1983. Since their retirement, Sherry has taken over management of the property. In this Q5, she talks about plans for the restaurant’s renovation.
1. Sherry, why is Santa Fe Depot Diner closing temporarily?
The restaurant is closed for restoration. We know Leavenworth would enjoy a new and exciting place for dinner, so this is a great time to give this grand old historic building a fresh look.
2. Since this former train depot is a historical treasure in Leavenworth, and the restaurant was a popular spot for local residents, there will probably be a lot of worried people when they learn of the changes. What is being planned for the facility?
Let’s get excited Leavenworth. When better than now, with the new hotels coming, to take a historic building, first opened in 1888 as the Santa Fe Train Depot, and turn her into a hot spot for locals and travelers alike.
3. What are some of the exciting changes that will be different from what Santa Fe Depot offered up until now and what features will remain the same?
My father, Charles Jaster, spent quite a few years tracking down all of the original fixtures to bring this unique pink sandstone structure back to its historic beginnings. We will of course want to keep it as a national historic landmark and on the Kansas Historic Sites Registry, but we can be very innovative and creative in bringing new life and great fun to the restaurant. I plan to take all the time needed during this process. We will utilize all available local resources to revitalize and improve the beautiful old building.
4. Why is it important to you and for the community to keep this business thriving in downtown Leavenworth?
First and foremost, we need every building occupied and thriving. My family restored the building for the sole purpose of giving back to the community. My parents are now retired so I am managing their properties and think this is a great opportunity to continue their legacy and keep this building as a thriving restaurant. Anyone who has stepped foot inside this building can see its beauty and historical value. My mother, JoAnn, commissioned author J.H. Johnston III to write a historic booklet about its glorious past. All she has ever wanted was for our present community so see it and enjoy its value and beauty. She has encouraged patrons to walk through the building to look back in time when men and women had separate areas to be seated while waiting for their train. I want to reopen and encourage residents to take that step with us and value the history while enjoying a great dining experience.
5. Do you have a time frame on how long renovations and changes might take before the restaurant reopens?
It is too early to set a timeline. I need to get in there and take the time needed to bring it to its full potential. I will be seeking the right restaurateur with creative thinking and a fantastic menu to occupy the building. I am open to suggestions and would welcome feedback.
– Rimsie McConiga