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They banded together to save local cafe
Last April, the City Cafe in Americus, Kan., a farm town of 1,200 people about 10 miles west of Emporia, closed its doors.
The cafe had been anchoring the town's main business block for as long as anyone in town could remember. "The cafe's equipment was run down and we were losing money," says Dave Buffington, manager of the old restaurant. "We had enough customers to keep it going but not enough money to pay for repairs."
But within weeks, the townspeople banded together to set up a corporation and establish a new cafe, the Breckinridge County Cafe. They sold 600 shares at $50 a share to more than 60 stockholders and now have over $75,000 in financing. They also secured a bank loan for $45,000 guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
A small town's cafe is its main hub and social center, says Betsy Landwehr, president of the cafe's corporation, Americus Enterprises, Inc. "Our local people have a lot of pride and when you lose the main cafe you lose part of the town's identity. In a small town everyone has to help each other out or nothing will happen. A lot of people who live here work in Emporia, and it wouldn't be hard to be gobbled up by a larger town."
A contest was held to name the cafe. Mrs. Landwehr's 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, won it after discovering that Lyon County, in which Americus is located, at one time was the county seat of Breckinridge County, which was named after vice president John C. Breckinridge. But when Breckinridge, a Kentuckian, sided with the South in the Civil War, the local free-state Kansans called him a traitor. In 1862, when the county seat was shifted to the faster-growing Emporia, they changed the county name to Lyon, for Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, a Union hero.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Betsy Landwehr, The Cafe, P.O. Box 377, Americus, Kan. 66835 (ph 316 443-5524).


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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #3