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Beloved cafe reopens after 2 years

Staff writer

The line was long at Al’s Café in Lost Springs as the Mexican family restaurant opened its doors for the first time after being closed for more than two years.

The show of support from surrounding communities confirmed Ryan and Dani Hatfield Makovec’s decision to keep a 50-year-old tradition going.

Ryan is a grandson of former owner and operator Delora Alvarez, who died in January, 2020. He grew up by her side and learned how to manage a commercial kitchen. Dani worked there for a while during and after high school.

“The café has been a big part of our lives, a big part of the Alvarez family, and a big part of the community,” Dani said. “We are happy we can keep it going.”

They are keeping the same menu but have discovered that suppliers have discontinued Al’s style of flour chips.

“We still offer them, but they are slightly different,” Dani said.

Customers continue to stream to the café whenever it is open, which since May 21 is 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The café, which seats 100 at a time, was packed Friday noon as people came from all around to enjoy the familiar menu.

A man from Wilsey said he had been going to Al’s Café since he was a child. He was on his way home from the state track meet in Wichita.

Other guests were from Wichita, Emporia, and Burlington in addition to Marion and Herington. Some had ties to the area, having been born there or having worked there. Some were visiting area cemeteries.

Waitress Shelby Srajer said the café closed down for a half hour on opening day so the kitchen staff could prepare more food.

“We didn’t see anyone get up and leave,” she said. “Vendors came Thursday, so everything is stocked up.”

The café used 50 pounds of pinto beans, more than 100 pounds of ground beef, 35 pounds of pork, 50 pounds of cheese, and 36 cans of giant tomatoes every day, Dani Makovec said.

“It’s been really fun,” she said. “I’m so thankful everyone has been so patient.”

Besides the same menu, the payment method hasn’t changed: cash or check, no credit cards.

Lost Springs is one mile west of US-56/77 on 340th Rd.

Last modified June 1, 2022

 

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