With their kitchen filled all day Monday with carpenters and electricians, the Lord’s Diner downtown wasn’t able to prepare food for Wichita’s hungry.
Fugate Enterprises, a Pizza Hut franchisee, sent over 113 cheese, pepperoni and beef pizzas to the diner in time to feed several hundred people Monday night.
“We have been remodeling our kitchen to accommodate our new mobile feeding unit in our other collaborations,” said Jan Haberly, executive director of the Lord’s Diner. “Today was one of those days that was messy – carpenters were drilling and spewing stuff all over. The electrician was there running wires, so we didn’t cook today.
“But Pizza Hut found out, and they were generous enough to bring pizza.”
But by 5:30 p.m. Monday night, as the evening prayer was about to be said, the pizzas hadn’t arrived.
“Do we have pizza?” Haberly asked.
One of the Lord’s Diner volunteers offered, “But we have pasta and celery sticks.”
Just in time, Pizza Hut vehicles arrived.
Haberly said the diner, a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, decided two years ago to expand its services to other parts of Wichita. It currently serves a free evening meal in two locations: 520 N. Broadway and 2825 S. Hillside. Between the two sites, it serves about 600 meals a day. Nearly 950 people were fed each night at the end of last month at the two locations, Haberly said.
By June, the diner expects to begin providing an additional 200 meals daily from a custom-built truck at the Evergreen Recreation Center, near 25th and North Arkansas.
Evergreen Recreation Center was determined the most ideal location based on the number of schoolchildren receiving free and reduced lunches and who take home backpacks with food over the weekend. Once the meals begin, people will have the option of eating at the Evergreen Center or taking the meals home.
In order to do that, though, Haberly said, the kitchen remodel was necessary at the downtown diner. The remodel includes new tilt skillets to cook casseroles, beans and rice; two more ovens; a new freezer; and more prep area.
Haberly said she expects things to return to normal Tuesday. In the meantime, she said, pizza was a treat.
“We think our guests will be really excited because they don’t get to call in pizza when they don’t want to cook,” Haberly said.