This is the email those of us who are on the Krause's email list received on Wednesday afternoon from Chef Robert & Molly Krause who own and operate Krause Dining in Lawrence, KS:
There is a season for all things...
"We have truly felt appreciated and supported from our customers - some of you for many years now. We are grateful for the friendships we have made, and so it with mixed feelings that we announce that we are no longer going to be serving from our house as of January 11, 2010 (which is Robert's 50th birthday). Like so many things in life, the best parts of working and living in the same place are also the hardest parts as well. So, in order to gain back a part our family life, we have decided to pursue other interests in food operations.
We are not going away - we will continue to operate and improve The Burger Stand, we have a new restaurant opening early next year at 801 Massachusetts serving casual Latin American food, our cookbook will be published next year, and we will teach cooking classes as well. We hope that you will have the opportunity to dine with us at Krause Dining before Jan. 11th, and other than the week of November 2nd when we will be out of town, we will be serving a lot in order to see you.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do what we have loved for so long. Many of you spent time writing letters in our support when we were in our zoning conflict, which meant so much to us. We consider you all friends and are grateful for this incredible ride."
Robert & Molly
I wrote about my first experience dining at Krause's home in 2007. It was the first restaurant I ever wrote about for this blog. It was after Robert's fight with his neighbors and the city zoning committees in Lawrence, and it was after the remodel that had to be done to make him a legal restaurant operating out of his home . . .and it was amazing, spectacular and completely unlike any dining experience I had ever had before, or ever will again, once their doors close on January 11, 2010.
I was in the process of doing the research for my underground supperclub at the time, and Krause being the closest thing I could find to someone who ran a similar operation, so I went to Lawrence to pick his brain.
I had been eating Chef Robert and Molly's food for many years prior to dining in their lovely home. Chef Robert's culinary background (Gary Danko in San Francisco) gave him big city street cred when he decided to move to Lawrence and continue his culinary career where he could raise a family. He and his wife Molly, opened a successful catering business called Krause's Catering in Topeka, which later morphed into a full-fledged restaurant he eventually sold called New City Cafe.
I worked for the Payless ShoeSource corporate office for 10 years in Topeka, commuting every day from Kansas City. Working in Topeka, it was tough to find really good locally-owned restaurants to eat at for lunch. The foodies in Topeka flocked when Robert opened his original Krause's Catering location for lunch and continued their migration later when he opened the New City Cafe. He was heaven sent for people working in Topeka looking for high quality, gourmet food.
The President of Payless ShoeSource during part of my time in Topeka was Maxine Clark, who later went on to start the Build-a-Bear retail chain. Maxine was a great supporter of mentoring other women in the workplace, (which was the only way I think I scored an invitation) and I received an invite to her home for her annual corporate Christmas party. I remember people at the party buzzing about how wonderful the food was, and I remember coming up the stairs to see none other than Chef Robert Krause in his white Chef's coat, busily refilling and arranging new delights with an intensity that could have lit up Cleveland.
If you don't know anything else about Chef Robert Krause, know this . . .he takes his food very seriously.
From there my understanding is he started serving dinners illegally from him home to friends and family. Back then you had to know someone in Lawrence who knew Robert to get into one of these dinners. Eventually the word of his secret dinners spread to Kansas City, to rave reviews, and that's when the authorities got involved and put a stop to his "illegal" underground restaurant.
He could have given up. He could have stopped serving dinners in his home and open up a restaurant down on Mass Street, which he did for a period of time. Instead, he chose to fight. From his own pocket, he remodeled his home into a legally acceptable restaurant. He even bought the home of the complaining neighbor that created a stink about his restaurant operation, refurbishing it into a rental house. He had friends write letters of support when he went to court because he believed it was worth the fight to keep his restaurant something special and personal. Eventually, Robert was allowed to re-open his place as a legal restaurant he called Krause Dining.
I honor his spirit. I honor his fight. I honor his talent. I have been inspired by him.
Others, running restaurants in unorthodox locations, are no stranger to what can happen when one complaint is made, whether it is valid or not. Remember Chef Jonathan Justus legal issues with operating his restaurant with the word "drugstore" in it's name? Silliness, but serious. Serious money, time and labor to resolve.
So, please if you are the one that has been talking about "someday getting up to Krause's to eat," I recommend you do not wait. Robert is going to book up and you do not want to miss this unique dining experience while he is still offering it to all of us.
After everything he has been through, and everything he is as a culinary talent, we owe him a visit of thanks and to wish him well with his future restaurant and cooking adventures.
Krause Dining has only one seating for dinner, and can only accommodate 30 people in his home restaurant. You must call for reservations in order to come for dinner, that can be done by calling 785-838-9830. They offer a 6 course menu for around $80 per person. This price excludes tax, tip or alcohol.