Old recipes at the heart of new start at Dari Creme

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
The old Dari Creme recipes are back in the Peabody landmark restaurant and in the capable hands of a new owner.

Cheryl Magathan opened the historic restaurant in mid November after it had been vacant for less than a month. About five years ago, she had an opportunity to work at the Dari Creme under Brenda Stovall, daughter-in law of former owners Mary and Doc Stovall.

At that time, Magathan learned how much the townsfolk of Peabody liked the winning Stovall recipes and how important it was to operate a local customer-oriented business.

“That’s where my concept has come from,” Magathan said.

“It seems like everybody who has come in here has changed all the recipes. In this small town, they want what they grew up with. So we brought back the way they build their hamburgers, and we make the original Doc and Mary Mexican food-even down to putting a dill pickle on top of the tostada.”

Husband Joe is a computer programmer working in Hutchinson, and the two have four grown children-all savoring her Southern-style cooking. Magathan has enjoyed a variety of jobs in her life, including writing for the Peabody Gazette in past years and winning awards from the Kansas Author’s Club.

Looking for an outlet to have extra income and being a natural people-pleaser, Magathan jumped at the chance to own the restaurant and lease the building and equipment.

“When this came up, I thought, ‘Wow, what an opportunity,'” Magathan said.

Not wanting to attach her name to the restaurant, she opted to keep it nostalgic and call it MainStreet DariCreme. “We’re part of the Main Street Program in Peabody, so I thought it would be nice to tie in with that,” Magathan said. “And Walnut Street, we call it Main Street. So we’re right at the end of Main Street.”

The interior decor includes a tip of the hat to Western-minded cowpokes, who’ll find a longhorn skull, horse gear, a cowboy hat and a kerosene lantern adorning the walls. But Magathan hasn’t forgotten the women who enjoy good food, too.

“I try to cater to the farmer and rancher in here for lunch every day,” Magathan said. “I try to make them feel real comfortable and then, I added a little bit of frill for the women-like the curtains-to balance it out a little bit.”

The cover of an extensive lunch, dinner and soft-serve ice cream menu invites customers to: “Kick back, eat hardy, and let us do the work. ‘Jest’ remember, like your Ma told ‘ya,’ don’t chew the fat with your mouth full. Have a ‘goodun’ an’ come back!”

Magathan said the reason for the considerable number of options on the menu is to make sure people don’t feel the need to drive out of town to eat.

“We have a tremendous variety,” Magathan said. “I have a lot of different salads, like the Santa Fe Chicken salad with grilled chicken. I’m trying to cater to people who are health and diet conscious. We have a Mexican menu, hamburgers and a full-dinner menu. We sell a lot of full-dinners.”

Full-dinners are available throughout the day and are served with a choice of either mashed potatoes, baked potato or fries, a vegetable, a dinner salad and Texas toast.

Starting with real potatoes and not a mix, Magathan makes sure the result is a homemade taste treat. “I don’t let anybody else mash them, because I’m very picky about how they taste,” she said. “I like using a lot of milk, and they’re real creamy.”

Not to be forgotten, the consummate potato lover will find comfort in spicy-seasoned curly fries.

“People just love those,” Magathan said. “We sell the heck out of them.”

The three most popular full-dinner meals are batter-fried shrimp, chicken-fried steak and hamburger steaks in the $5 to $6 range.

“We sell a lot of hamburger steaks because, again, I try to go back to the old way of doing it,” Magathan said. “I make it real flavorful.”

For ‘hand-grabbin’ grub-otherwise known as sandwiches-patrons have 27 different options to choose from.

“Right now, people are going nuts over the Reuben,” Magathan said. “They’re really tasty. And the Philly (sirloin) steak is something new, and that’s going over really big.”

Under the heading of Cowboy Nutrition on the menu, customers will find all the traditional Stovall Mexican fare from the past.

“Everybody loves the tostadas and the sanchos,” Magathan said. “The tostadas are big, and they’re a real meal. This is the Stovall recipe. Customers buy it like it’s going out of style.”

The sanchos are smothered in Stovall-inspired chili topped with melted cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.

Never forgetting the name of her restaurant, Magathan promotes the ever-popular soft-serve ice cream.

Looking for an ice-cream sundae available any time of the year? Try it topped with delights such as M&Ms, hot fudge, Butterfingers, Snickers or Reece’s peanut-butter cups. Unless directed otherwise, staff will add nuts and whipped cream to cap that sundae off just right.

All ice-cream creations, such as banana splits, sundaes, shakes, floats and twisters, are made with fresh ice-cream mix from Highland Dairy.

“We don’t use powdered mix,” Magathan said. “The soft-serve made with a liquid tastes a lot better.”

In addition to the variety of menu options, Magathan offers daily specials listed on a menu board by the front door.

Sit down and dig into homemade chicken and noodles on Wednesday or try the specialty of the house on Friday-barbecue country-style pork spareribs.

Made from a family recipe more than 70 years old, the ribs were served by Magathan’s aunt at a restaurant in Stafford.

“Everybody just loved those ribs,” Magathan said. “They’re really unique. These are dipped in batter, the batter is fried on, then they’re baked with a real sweet barbecue sauce made with cloves. I make the barbecue sauce.”

Served with an unusual family-recipe potato salad, the full-dinner rib meal costs $5.50.

On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, specials might be offerings such as goulash, salmon patties, or maybe ham and beans served with corn bread.

One employee with considerable experience in the restaurant business is Bobbie Boston-Saylor. “I see her as very valuable, because she knows all the townspeople,” Magathan said. “They highly respect her, and she’s a tremendous waitress.”

And while on the subject of respect, chocolate lovers might want to take heed of Magathan’s talents when they try the following recipe she offered.

Texas Sheet Cake

1 C. butter

1 C. water

1/4 C. baking cocoa

2 C. all-purpose flour

2 C. sugar

1 Tsp. baking soda

1/2 Tsp. salt

1/2 C. sour cream

Icing:

1/2 C. butter

1/4 C. plus 2 Tbs. milk

3 Tbs. baking cocoa

33/4 C. confectioner’s sugar

1 Tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring butter, water and cocoa to a boil. Remove from heat. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add to cocoa mixture. Stir in sour cream until smooth. Pour into a greased 15-inch by 10-inch by 1-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until center comes out clean with a toothpick.

For icing, melt butter and add milk and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until smooth, then pour over warm cake. Makes 15 servings.

“I’m a chocolate freak, so I like that,” Magathan said about the cake recipe. “It’s so good. Sometimes, I go to a restaurant and I want a piece of cake, but all they have is pie. So, I’m thinking about featuring that in the future.”

Other future plans include adding a children’s menu, opening certain nights for home-game fans to have a place to celebrate,and offering extended hours and car hops in the summer.

With one Peabody restaurant recently closing, and only two others in the community, the town appears to be hungry for what Magathan has to offer.

In a restaurant that offers seating for 25, take-out orders and a walk-up window, business is good. At the end of one busy day, Magathan counted out 65 tickets.

“I usually have a radio going,” she said.

“But it’s getting now that sometimes you come in here and you can’t even hear, because people are talking and laughing so loud. And that’s the kind of environment I want-a real positive, happy place where everybody knows everybody. That’s what I’m trying to create.”

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