NuWay Cafe doesn’t change things on a whim.
The Crumbly – its trademark loose-meat sandwich – is the same as it was when Packards sat in the parking lot. Ditto the root beer and onion rings.
But since it was founded on July 4, 1930, NuWay has expanded. From its original store at 1416 W. Douglas, NuWay grew to five locations, and now it’s adding a sixth, said Neal Stong, who owns the restaurants with his son Chris.
The new store that is being built at 2135 W. 21st St., near the intersection of 21st and Amidon, should be finished in August or early September, Neal Stong said.
One other thing that changes each year is the price for the Crumbly during NuWay’s July 4 special.
This year it’s 82 cents – that’s a penny more than last year – with a coupon from The Eagle.
On its 50th anniversary, Stong said, NuWay offered its loose-meat burgers for 50 cents each. And it’s added a penny to the price each year.
“I’m not sure how much longer we can afford to do the July 4 special, but we’re doing it this year,” Stong said.
The special runs through Saturday this week and then again July 4 through July 7.
Greg White, NuWay’s area manager, said the making of the Crumbly is “more an art than a science.” The ground beef is steamed, and the technique ensures a moist, flavorful sandwich that isn’t too wet, he said.
Started by Tom McEvoy in 1930, NuWay survived the Great Depression, World War II and more food fads than its owners can recall.
The Stongs purchased the entire business from their partner Gene Friedman in the 1990s. Friedman had bought it from Tom McEvoy’s widow, Helen.
Lennes Rankin of Sharon says the restaurant keeps doing it right.
“I started eating NuWay when I was 4 years old,” said Rankin, 72, who on Wednesday was enjoying a Crumbly, fries and a frosty mug of root beer.
He said his family had an aunt who lived a couple of blocks down the street from the NuWay on West Douglas. When his family came to Wichita to visit, Rankin said, “this was our treat – to eat at NuWay.”