Kemmer-Stockebrand Building (1904) - Frannie's entrance is at far left. The restaurant is upstairs at center
This is an archive page. Frannie's closed in 2007.
Tucked away in an upstairs corner of an old building on the Woodson County Courthouse Square was one of Kansas' most memorable restaurant's - Frannie's. Operating for 20 years, the Yates Center restaurant was a labor of love for Frannie Ward Milner. Frannie first opened the restaurant to pay of medical bills 1986, borrowing $5 from her 9 year old granddaughter to start the business.
If you didn't already know about Frannie's, it would not have look encouraging. The street entrance was rather barren and it opened right on an old staircase with 31 steps. The sign just inside looked like it must be 30, 40, maybe 60 years old? "Meals $1, Pie $1, Sandwiches $1, Drinks Free with Meal"
The sign may have been fairly old, but the prices were not. Through the closing in 2007, $1 plus tax was what Frannie charged for a meal, including beverage!
The only business on the second floor of the 103 year old building was Frannie's. There were two rooms: a dining room and room split between kitchen and a couple of dining tables. Frannie is the only employee, but I've seen a diner jump in and help as things get busy. Many of the customers get their meals to go. Strangers share tables, and when the restaurant is full, some people eat in the hall.
The meal choices were between several sandwiches and the daily special. You went to the edge of the kitchen area, Frannie plated your dinner, and gave you a glass if you were having iced tea. The food was great, but that was almost a given.
There was also a choice of homemade pies. During my last visit, there were 14 varieties from which to choose. Pie is an additional $1 and everyone gets pie. By 11:45 AM, the folks coming in pick their pie first - she may be out when they finish their meal.
At the end of the meal, you took your dishes to the sink. Then stopped at the cash register by the door and paid, making your own change from the open register.
As you left, Frannie called out a thank you and invited you to come back again.
I just wish I could!
copyright 2006-2015 by Keith Stokes