The Whiting Cafe makeover was completed on Sunday and the restaurant was scheduled to reopen this morning at 6 a.m.

This makeover is the pilot project for We Kan! The organization plans to create a We Kan Bank with a website that will connect “accounts of need” with “accounts of support.”

It’s all a part of the Kansas Sampler Foundation – because they are Relentless for Rural. The group brings attention to rural Kansas and works at finding ways to support small communities and local businesses to keep them viable.

But they don’t want to do it alone – the idea is to get the whole state, the citizenry, involved in appreciating and supporting rural Kansas. (Which, I can testify, is reward in itself: touring the state, eating pie at small-town cafes.)

Here are more of my photos from Saturday.





Ron Frank of Manhattan uses a small video camera to record a woman painting the cafe’s high chair.

Ron is volunteering his time and expertise to produce a piece for KTWU’s pilot show for their new series “I’ve Got Issues,” a community affairs program that will air on July 23, at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 11. (You can read more about KTWU’s new show here.)

I visited with Ron awhile and he’s an interesting guy, retired from K-State where he was a professor in the Department of Communications. His recent work includes video projects in Greensburg and Garden City.

Ron Frank makes documentaries. You can view some of his films (Bicycling across Kansas, a barn-raising in Greensburg recorded by high school students, Hurricane Katrina/Red Cross) and learn more about Ron Frank on his website: Frank Films.



New flowers under the new mural.


Marci Penner takes a break from cleaning to snap a few photos. Marci, wearing a Relentless for Rural T-shirt, is the Director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and a dynamic source of energy for rural Kansas. She’s one of the most positive and energetic people I know.



Meanwhile, several blocks away from the Whiting Cafe, Rosa Thomas and others prepared lunch at the community center. Rosa is owner of the Whiting Cafe and recipient of the We Kan! makeover. She was cooking a meal for the volunteers: fried chicken, pork roast, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob.

After she listed lunch items, she said of the menu, “It’s just like we’re feeding harvesters.”

I mentioned how great the environment was down at her cafe, that there was just such a joyous atmosphere created by the volunteers.

“Aren’t they nice?” Rosa said. “They’re so beautiful.”

“We’re feeding 85-100 today. Our preacher and his wife are coming at lunch time to sing. They wanted to be a part of it, too. And we’ve invited the community and customers tonight. My uncle and his band are playing tonight. It’s going to be really fun.”

Rosa says of the project, “It’s such a blessing.” And her mother was taken by the warmth of the volunteers, many of whom are members of the Kansas Explorers Club and she told me, “I joined the club.”

If you’re wondering where Whiting is and want to stop by in the now-open, newly refurbished Whiting Cafe, it’s north of Topeka, north of Holton, along Kansas Highway 9. (K-9, woof-woof.)


A table full of desserts awaits the hard-working volunteers.

You can read more about the project on the Kansas Sampler Blog.


  1. What a wonderful story! And those desserts look to die for! Cafes like this one is the best reason to travel. Hope to stumble upon Whiting Cafe some day!

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