Dining With Denise Neil

Strong City’s popular Ad Astra Food and Drink has closed

Ad Astra Food & Drink in Strong City has closed. The owners say they hope to sell it.
Ad Astra Food & Drink in Strong City has closed. The owners say they hope to sell it. The Wichita Eagle

I’m sorry to report that a really good Kansas restaurant has closed.

Ad Astra Food and Drink, the gem of a restaurant in the Flint Hill’s Strong City that I reviewed in April, has closed. Owner Amanda Hague announced the news on Facebook on Friday morning.

The problem, she said in the post, was too much success too quickly.

“If you’ve been to our restaurant in the last six months (or the last three and half years for that matter) you will have noticed that it has gotten extremely busy,” she wrote. “Our business was thriving and maybe we weren’t quite prepared for the level of success that we had achieved so quickly. We looked into options to keep the restaurant going at a more manageable level. We discussed cutting the menu back by two-thirds, going to a dinner only schedule, raising prices, and looking into more prepared foods, but we soon realized that those options would kill the spirit of Ad Astra. I guess we would rather end things now with you having fond memories of a beloved Ad Astra, instead of going on as a compromised and soulless version of ourselves.”

The owners have decided to move on, she said. They are looking for a buyer for the restaurant.

Hague said one of the main problems was finding help in tiny Strong City, which has a population of fewer than 500. The restaurant has been running on a skeleton crew, with just herself, her husband and her mother in the kitchen. One weekend when they all had the flu, they had to close.

The setup wasn’t sustainable and was affecting their happiness.

“It’s been a rough couple of months, but once we made this decision, it’s made it a lot better,” Hague said.

She and her husband now “will have to get real jobs,” she said, with a laugh. They’ve talked about opening a food truck, but that would happen only after they get all the restaurant business settled.

Hague said she’s hopeful she can find a buyer for Ad Astra.

“We’ve had a little bit of interest from some people,” she said. “Hopefully something will happen. A lot of people realize the value it brings to community.”

Hague, who grew up in the Flint Hills, opened her restaurant along with her husband, Ben, three years ago, and it had a devoted following around the state. It served an eclectic mix of American favorites made with a gourmet twist like bison burgers, Creekstone farms rib eye and fried Brussels sprouts.