It’s always a sad day when a local cultural icon shuts its doors. I’m sad to report that is the case for the Curtis Café, which closed its doors at the end of December.
I classify the Curtis Café as a Kansas icon because it retains the look and feel of a 1950s diner—not to mention several hundred jigsaw puzzles lining its walls.
The jigsaw puzzle décor began when previous owner Musetta Curtis began putting together the puzzles for therapy after developing eye problems. Soon everyone was sending her puzzles and, voila, the unique interior design blossomed until it covered the walls of the main restaurant and larger dining hall.
The café has been in business since 1948, with the Curtis family, or their descendants, operating it for most of those years. The most recent owners, Ruth and Jim Wiltshire, have a Pratt connection. Jim originally hails from Pratt. Ruth is also related to the Curtis’. The couple decided it was time to retire from the restaurant business and, unless someone steps forward to run this small town restaurant, the Curtis Café will be another chapter in Stafford history. Not many mom and pop restaurants still survive in these days of chain restaurants with a focus on the bottom line, especially ones like the Curtis Café which so clearly represent a slice of Americana.
Over the past few years, when work took me to Stafford, I have enjoyed many chicken and noodle dinners, heaped high on a mound of mashed potatoes. That was Tuesday’s special, and it was delicious, especially the homemade noodles.
Stafford will miss this quaint restaurant with its simple but tasty menu. So long, Curtis Café, so long, and best wishes to the Wiltshires as they begin the next chapter of their lives.