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Celebrating Kansas by car - Assaria

Stephanie Bergmann and several friends celebrated a special birthday at the Renaissance Café, an Italian fine-dining establishment located in a former school building in Assaria, Kan.

By Stephanie Bergmann, Independent Living sales and marketing director

The tiny town of Assaria is serving up a tasty lesson in gourmet cooking! The Renaissance Café operates out of an old school building that closed in the 1970s. The owners renovated it and now serve northern Italian cuisine that draws foodies from around the state.

Right now, the menu includes New Zealand king salmon with kalamata olive tapenade; lamb sausage Bolognese; and seared diver scallops with charred berry salsa, edamame and garlic puree. No school cafeteria fare here! Diners are seated on the upper floor of the old school, with the gymnasium in the center surrounded by nostalgic decor.

The evolution of the Renaissance Café is a story in itself. In 1979, the owners first used the vacant school building for an agricultural implements business called Great Plains Manufacturing. They started serving lunch to employees on-site as an added benefit. The meals were so good that word spread, and the workplace luncheon eventually morphed into a high-class restaurant. Since 1998, the Renaissance Café has dished up elegant meals, yet many Kansans still have never heard of it!

My girlfriends and I celebrated a special birthday dinner there and sampled several eclectic dishes featuring Kansas lamb, beef and bison, plus fresh local produce. The general manager, Adrienne Lynn, tells me they change the menu often and even fly in fresh, exotic seafood. Pretty impressive for a landlocked town of about 400 people!

If you love trying new foods and seeing new places, Assaria is an easy drive from Wichita, just 80 miles to the north in Saline County and right off I-135. The Renaissance Café is only open Thursday through Saturday, so reservations are a must (785–667-5535). For customers concerned about COVID, the manager says she can set up a table away from others if she’s given advance notice. Plan to discover this hidden gem for yourself and enjoy a meal and a setting that are one of a kind!

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