Dining With Denise Neil

Dave Freeman’s Tuesday lunch spot more predictable than the weather

Rose Santana, right, writes down Dave Freeman’s lunch order at her restaurant Little Saigon – even though Freeman orders the same thing on the same day every week.
Rose Santana, right, writes down Dave Freeman’s lunch order at her restaurant Little Saigon – even though Freeman orders the same thing on the same day every week. The Wichita Eagle

If you visit Little Saigon, the Asian restaurant at 1015 N. Broadway, for lunch on a Tuesday and glance over to the corner, you’ll probably see him. And you’ll wonder if it’s him.

Tall. Suit. Tie. Head of gorgeous, made-for-TV silver hair. He looks a lot like Dave Freeman. Is that Dave Freeman?

Every Tuesday, Freeman, the longtime chief meteorologist at KSN Channel 3, sits at the same table at the same restaurant with the same two guys. He orders the same dish — one that was invented at his request — and talks about the same topics, mostly books, movies and the general awesomeness of Winston Churchill.

“We like to be off in the corner a little so we don’t attract a lot of attention,” Freeman said.

Little Saigon became one of Freeman’s favorite restaurants after reporter Craig Andres took him there. The restaurant was near the station, and Andres always ordered an off-the-menu dish — fried rice piled high with the restaurant’s signature char-broiled pork. The dish was dubbed “The KSN.”

Freeman, who tries to eat healthy, liked that the pork was low-fat but knew that the buttery rice probably wasn’t. He asked for a modification — a half portion of the fried rice with the pork and a side of steamed vegetables. It’s called “The KSN 2.”

Diners in-the-know often order one of the two KSN specials, said Rose Santana, who owns the restaurant. Often, since it’s not listed on the menu, the order will throw off her newer servers. In that case, the diner knows to say, “Ask Rose.”

“I’ve wondered whether Rose will put it on the menu,” Freeman said.

The other two faces at Freeman’s table also are familiar. One is John Snyder, a former KSN anchor who retired in 2013. Freeman and Snyder bonded over their interest in history and started meeting at Little Saigon on Tuesdays. The date stuck and has rarely been missed in five years.

Recently, Freeman began bringing longtime broadcaster Gordon Bassham, who produces Web content for the station, along as well.

On a recent Tuesday, as Freeman drowned his KSN 2 in Sriracha and hoison sauce and his friends dug into their regular orders – General Tso’s chicken with fried rice and egg roll – the conversation jumped from good movies they’d seen to updates on their health. It was interrupted only when Santana stopped by to say hello to her table of regulars.

Among the trio’s other commonalities is a belief that Santana’s restaurant is one of the best in town.

“Rose is someone who is to be admired,” Snyder said. “She works very hard and is a very smart person.”

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