It’s not unusual for restaurant employees to leave a job to open their own places. But the connection between the owners of Country Cafe and Town & Country restaurant goes deeper than most.
Gonzalo Delgado, who owns Country Cafe with his siblings, worked for Town & Country for 24 years. His sister and two younger brothers were also employed at Town & Country, which was opened in 1957 by Larry Conover.
“We learned everything” there, said Delgado, who started washing dishes at Town & Country as a 14-year-old. “We learned to cook breakfast, make cinnamon rolls, cook a steak.”
The Delgados opened Country Cafe in Haysville in 2010, then moved it to a location on South Seneca in Wichita in 2012. Delgado is joined in the business by his brothers Jaime and Eric, who handle the cooking, and sister Lucy Hernandez, the assistant night manager. The restaurant is open seven days a week.
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“Most of the employees are family, like my wife – she helps with the dishes – and my sister-in-law. She helps us wait tables,” Gonzalo Delgado said.
Although their personal and cultural background is Hispanic, their cafe’s menu looks more like that of Town & Country, a family-style diner.
“We serve breakfast all day, and we do everything from scratch,” Delgado said. “We make chicken-fried steak, chicken-fried chicken, homemade bread, biscuits and gravy.”
Delgado said the formula for success in the restaurant business is simple: Offer good food and service at reasonable prices.
There’s a daily breakfast special of two eggs, hash browns and bacon for $4.29. Dinner specials run $7.99 and include stuffed bell peppers, spaghetti and meatloaf, all served with a side dish or two, soup or salad and homemade rolls. Mexican food, usually in the form of a beef Monterey, is the special one night a week.
Delgado said the cafe is using about half the space available at the South Seneca location, which was formerly a bar and restaurant called Yogi’s. Country Cafe seats up to 120 people. It had a liquor license for a while but decided to drop it.
Delgado eventually rose to assistant manager and chief cook at Town & Country. He said his family’s years at that restaurant prepared them well for owning their own establishment. And he can still ask his old boss for advice if needed.
“We still talk,” he said. “Larry Conover is like my dad. He wishes us the best.”