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Chicken Mary's restaurant, Frontenac, Kansas - Page

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Several photographs of Chicken Mary's restaurant near Frontenac, Kansas. Joe and Mary Zerngast started Chicken Mary's in the early 1940s. Joe, a German immigrant, found work as a shot firer in the coal mines in the Pittsburg, Kansas area. However, due to poor health, he was no longer able to work in the mines. To help support the family, Mary turned to cooking. She prided herself in her fried chicken, German potato salad, and cole slaw.
In the beginning, with Joe's help, Mary served customers in their home, seating them at the kitchen table. In response to large customer numbers, in 1945 Joe and Mary purchased the Foxtown Mining Camp Pool Hall and moved it to a location just west of the current Chicken Mary's.
The new restaurant, originally named "Joe's Place," had ten tables, a potbellied stove and an outdoor toilet. Soon Zig and Mickey, their children, were recruited to help on weekends as the business flourished.
In 1961 , Joe died, but Mary with the help of her son, Zig, and his wife Tootie, continued to run the restaurant. However, in that same year, Mary suffered a stroke and the business closed for six months while she recuperated. Zig and Tootie re-opened on weekends only.
In 1966, the current restaurant was built and opened as a "full-time" business. Tootie and Zig were joined in the business by their son, Larry, and his wife, Karen. Even though Mary's health prevented her from returning full-time, she still helped in a limited capacity until her death in 1980.
The present generation maintains close ties to Mary's original business. Zig and Tootie's daughter, Donna, and her husband, Anthony Pichler, own and operate Pichler's Chicken Annie's, located south of Pittsburg.
After a lengthy illness, Zig died in May 1990. Tootie, Larry and Karen continue the tradition of Joe and Mary.

Creator: Coble, Teresa Ann
Date: February 25, 2019

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Chicken Mary's restaurant, Frontenac, Kansas - 1

Item Number: 457143
Call Number: Digital file, Donor, 2019-
KSHS Identifier: DaRT ID: 457143

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