Sandy’s Cafe Then and Now

101 Walnut/Gunsmoke Street

We’ll be here forever if I try to tackle this entire building at once. Since Sandy’s Cafe had a cool sign at one point, I thought I would start with the back side of the building.

The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows a wood frame icehouse at the southwest corner of Walnut Street and Railroad (Central) Avenue. This icehouse sat behind George Cox’s livery stable and wasn’t assigned a street number.

Ham Bell’s Elephant Livery took up the entire lot on the 1899 Sanborn. The north end of the building had been assigned an address of 217 Walnut Street and the east side was assigned 606 and 607 Railroad Avenue.

This lot was completely empty by 1905. By 1911, the streets had been renumbered (some renamed) and the lot was assigned addresses of 101 Walnut Street and 509 Central Avenue.

The county website says the current structure was built in 1938, which is impossible. The correct answer is 1915.

George Cochran teamed up with the Kennedy family to build a large reinforced concrete structure to house auto sales and repair as well as a machine shop and event hall. The original plans for the building did not include an opening on the Walnut Street side.

The interior plans changed during the process, however, and the hall became a rooming house to be run by Nate Reese.

The 1918 Sanborn is the first to show the current structure. At this time, the building had street addresses at 101-103 Walnut Street and 100-102 Chestnut Street. You’ll notice the map lists a garage capacity of 90 cars and 8 Pyrene extinguishers. Those were probably products of the Pyrene Manufacturing Company.

This is the earliest photo I’ve found of the building but it only shows the Chestnut Street side. Since we learned in this post the Popular Cafe moved into the Gluck Building across the street in March of 1919, it was taken some time between then and 1923.

Photographer Unknown

George Cochran bought the Kennedys’ half-ownership of the building for about $20,000 in April of 1923. Archie and James Owings and partner T. B. West moved their Buick dealership to the old Kennedy Brothers Garage.

Although “Kennedy Siblings” doesn’t have quite the same ring, it would have been more accurate. Sister Lucille Kennedy was involved in various businesses with her brothers Henry, William, Frank, and Ben until Henry died in May of 1930.

The Owings and West Building was completely remodeled at the beginning of 1930 by Parham Construction at a cost of approximately $15,000. The stucco was replaced by red brick with decorative florets spaced along the exterior. The Dodge City Journal made a fact error in their original reporting, which was corrected below. Harris Sporting Goods Company was next door to the appliance store at 103 Walnut Street.

The Dodge City Journal, February 20, 1930

Though this listing ads little value, I can’t help but include everything I find in The Dog Robber.

The Dog Robber, November 1, 1931

The 1932 Sanborn shows the building had been broken up into several different retail spaces.

Holt’s Cafe was located at 101 Walnut Street as early as 1932.

Hodgeman County News, October 6, 1932

The photo below was taken in April of 1939.

Photographer Unknown

Sometime between 1942 and 1945, the cafe became Miller’s Lunch.

Dodge City Daily Globe, October 20, 1945

By 1953, the business had been purchased by Howard and Bessie Sanders, who renamed it Sandy’s Cafe. They also owned Sanders Liquor Store. Gwinn Title and Investment Company was located at 103 1/2 Walnut Street.

The cafe was sold to Gene Davis sometime before 1959 and he had an unfortunate incident with an exploding oven.

Dodge City Daily Globe, April 15, 1959

Davis hung in there, however, and reopened Sandy’s in the same location.

Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas Centennial Special Edition, July 1961

103 1/2 Gunsmoke Street was vacant by 1961, as were several of the upstairs apartments.

Photo by Art Morenus

This color photo was taken just prior to the demolition of the O’Neal Hotel.

Photo courtesy Marin Lix

John Schafer bought the restaurant in 1970 and sold all of the old equipment.

Dodge City Daily Globe, February 19, 1970

Schafer’s Cafe held a liquidation auction in April of 1974.

Garden City Telegram, April 6, 1974

I’m not completely clear about when the storefronts on Gunsmoke were combined into one space. But they definitely were! The US Army Recruiting office was there from about 1975 until at least the early 1990s.

Muller/Jacobs Computer Services held a grand opening at 103 Gunsmoke in July of 1999.

Nancy Churning had Data Supply of Dodge City on that corner from around 2000 until about 2005 . You can still see a ghost sign on the east door and I’ve included a photo in the slide show below.

The location was home to Fashion Corner from about 2007 to 2012.

Fruteria Laguna Grande is currently located in that spot. Their Facebook page has a bunch of interior photos so you can see how it looks inside. Most of the shots are tight on the food but if you scroll down, you can see the displays and some interior features.

Here’s how the exterior looks now. Some of these pics were obviously taken before the road construction! The gray winter skies were regrettable.

Dodge traditionally had several grocery stores spread out all over downtown and it’s wonderful to see them return. People still live downtown, in case you didn’t know, and it’s awesome to have groceries within walking distance.

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