Saturday, December 27, 2014

Five Guys

We are on the search for the best burger in Topeka. Here is how we rate the burger joints that we will review. First we put heavy emphasis on where the joint is headquartered, Local (Topeka) will garner an automatic 10 bonus points. Kansas owned chains (headquartered in Lawrence, Wichita, etc) an automatic 5 bonus points and National chains (those headquartered outside the state) will garner an automatic 0 bonus points. The ten categories that we will use in our search for the best burger in Topeka will be 1.Burger Patties Quality, 2. Bun Quality, 3. Customer Service, 4. Garnish Quality, 5. Fries Quality, 6. Atmosphere, 7. Order Accuracy, 8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc), 9. Building Accessibility and 10. Price. All categories will earn a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the poorest.

 On December 19, 2014 the very first Five Guys opened in Topeka. Having ate at this National Chain (headquartered in Massachusetts) when I was last in Austin, TX.  So I was glad to see it was now in Kansas. Better yet, it was coming to Topeka. Unable to make it on opening day, the wife and I made a stop in on December 26th.  When we entered the place was packed.

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Bonus Points: 0
Since this burger joint is a national chain the restaurant earned zero bonus points.

1. Burger Patties Quality: 10
 The burger quality was very moist and was fully cooked. Making the burger very tasty. The flavor was enhanced with the best soda brand, Coca-Cola ™. Even better the restaurant offers the Coca-Cola ™ Freestyle ™ machine. 
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

2. Bun Quality: 10
 The bun was a fresh toasted sesame seed bun.

3. Customer Service: 10
 We found the customer service excellent. All the employees were friendly and willing to take time to explain their menu to new customers.

4. Garnish Quality:  8
The tomatoes were a little green. Lettuce was fresh. No complaints with the pickles or onions.

5. Fries Quality: 10
Cooked in peanut oil these fries were excellent. Very fresh and hot. This is one of the very few places that actually make their own fries. No frozen potatoes at this restaurant.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

6. Atmosphere: 10
Busy fast food restaurant with people waiting for a table. This is also the only burger place I've seen that brings in the peanut concept that some sit down restaurants have used over the years. Behind the counter, employees are lined up prepping burgers assembly line style.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

7. Order Accuracy: 10
They got our order correct. We always special order our burgers to see how the burger place does. We both ordered what they call the "Little burger." Pat ordered hers with mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, tomato and grilled onions. For mine I ordered ketchup only. 

8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc): 9
Entrance was well kept and clean.
Dining Area was littered with the discarded shells that the restaurant patrons had discarded on the floor and trampled under foot.
Neither of used the restroom on this visit, so we are unable to comment on their condition.

9. Building Accessibility: 9
The building was accessible. However, the ramp to access the building was done in a way that was more costly to the construction. Not only that it is done in a way that makes it harder for some people with mobility issues. The construction could have been done with the entrance on the ground level, instead when they built this building over the last few months  with steps and a long ramp to access it. 

10. Price: 7
For two burgers, one large fries and two regular size drinks we paid $18.73. The burgers were tasty and there is something about paying for quality. However, I still have a problem with paying more then I have to.

 I also felt a little deceived by the menu board. The burger at the top was simply called hamburger for $5.69. Turns out that burger is a double, even though the menu board doesn't say so. On down towards the bottom what one would think is a children's burger, the "Little Burger," is actually the single.  The "Little burger" sells for $3.99. Fries and drink not included.  So Pat and I shared  large fries ($4.69) . We each had our own regular size Coke™ product ($2.19 each).
Overall, we were disappointed that they didn't have any meal deals.
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Total: 9.3

1191 Suite B SW Wanamaker
Topeka, Kansas
(785) 273-1730
Today 11:00am - 10:00pm

Friday, December 26, 2014

Winter Wonderland 2014

Winter Wonderland's drive through light display is still going on nightly 5:30-10 pm until Dec 31, 2014.
The display is a fundraiser for TARC.
$10 per car
$20 per bus/van
(please feel free to add your own prayer in the comments below this prayer)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Carols at the Capital

This past weekend (December 13, 2014) was the second annual Carols at the Capital.  An event held each year at each of the fifty (50) State Capitals. Here in Topeka, a small group of about 100 people gathered at the first floor rotunda to sing Christmas Carols.  Photos from this years event can be found below.
Video by Kevin Surbaugh

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Friday, December 12, 2014


I just learned of a great event happening tomorrow at the Quincy Street Conference and Event Center.

Join Norman The Nutcracker For a Fun Filled Afternoon Watching 3 Classic Christmas Movies That Have Not Been Shown Together In Topeka Since The Orpheum Theater Closed in 1968.

Admission Is Only A $5.00 Donation Which Gets You These 3 Great Films, A Bag of Popcorn and a Drink.


The 3 Films That Will Be Shown Are:

Phineas T. Prune is an old miser who holds the deed to the North Pole. It seems that Santa Claus is behind in paying his rent. Prune plans to have Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves evicted and keep the Christmas toys. Santa asks Sam Whipple for help. Can Whipple and the children around the world help Santa and prevent Christmas from being canceled?

Santa Claus is Kidnapped by Green Wet Suit wearing Martians to bring Christmas Presents to Martian Children who are not having fun. Without a doubt the cheesiest, low budget Christmas Movie ever made. It is so bad that it is joyfully good fun. Stars an 8 year old Pia Zadora.

"One Snowflake Two, Three Snowflake Four, You'll See The Snow Queen If You Count A Million More." Thus goes the intro by Art Linkletter of this marvelously animated Russian rendition of the classic Hans Christian Anderson Tale. The dark and moody version of The Snow Queen features the voices of Tommy Kirk and Sandra Dee. Full of beautiful art and wonderful music you will not want to miss Gerda's quest as she searches for her friend Kay who has been kidnapped by the powerful and lonely fairy; The Snow Queen.


- Family Fun Festival Facebook Page

Dec. 13, 2014 at 1 pm

Quincy Street Conference and Event Center
707 SE Quincy Street, Suite 300
Topeka, Kansas 66603

Handicapped Accessibility:
There's an Elevator that can take visitors to the event center on the top floor.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Miracle on Kansas was Spectacular.

photo by Kevin Surbaugh
The night of November 29, 2014 was a fun night for all those that attended the festivities of Miracle on Kansas in downtown Topeka. Rhe night started out at 5 pm with the annual Rescue Mission Run. At 5:30 the Christmas tree was lit. Normally in front of Westar, the tree was moved this year to the Capitols north lawn due to the construction that has been happening on Kansas Ave.

photo by Kevin Surbaugh
Followed by the parade, which this year made a loop around the Capitol complex. According to the promotional press release, spectators would be allowed to park along the parade route for the first time ever.  Making it sound as those with mobility issues would not have to try to walk or move about in pain for 2-3 blocks.  However, while it was technically true, what one would have to do is to be there and parked prior to the 3 pm shutting of the roads.  The closest we were able to get was the state parking lot (by the Judicial Center) on the South side of the state house. Then make our way to the North side.  Which is fine if a handicapped person is in a wheelchair or other mobility device, but for those who use crutches and whose knees don't bend, that creates a lot of pain. The last thing I want is to sound negative, but with this blogs ite also focusing on mobility issues, it is important to be openly honest in the facts. 
photo by Kevin Surbaugh

With that I hope that you enjoy these pictures from the night.  The tree was beautiful and the the parade was spectacular.

photo by Kevin Surbaugh

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Miracle on Kansas Avenue - Nov 29, 2014

The annual Miracle on Kansas is this weekend.


  • Topeka Rescue Run at 5:00pm
    Get your shoes laced up and help raise money for the Topeka Rescue Mission.

  • Annual Community Tree Lighting at 5:30pm
    Community Tree Lighting moved to north side of Capitol Grounds, 8th & VanBuren. Those attending include Mayor Larry Wolgast (City of Topeka), Vince Frye (President/CEO – Downtown Topeka, Inc.), Grand Marshall Family of Cpl. Jason Harwood, and tree donor – Chris Howe.

  • Miracle on Kansas Avenue Parade at 6pm
    Grand Marshalls - The Family of Cpl. Jason Harwood, Mayor Larry Wolgast, SNCO Commission Chair Bob Archer and Miss Capital City Jade Dowling, led by Topeka High's Color Guard. And wait until you see Santa's new ride. Remember, the "official" Miracle on Kansas Avenue Parade Santa is the last float.

  • Route Information:

    Spectators will be allowed to park along the parade route this year, with the exception of Kansas Avenue from 1st to 6th Street. FREE parking is available in the State Parking Lots at 12th & Harrison and 10th & Topeka; City Lot at 8th & Madison with FREE SHUTTLE service to the parade area (courtesy of Topeka Metro), City Parking Garages: Townsite (6th & Quincy), ParkNShop (600 Block Quincy), Crosby Place Garage (8th & Kansas), City Centre Garage (9th & Kansas), plus downtown core from 6th to 12th on Kansas and adjacent side streets.

    Street Closures: Parade entry area closes at 2pm in order to prepare staging areas for parade and run (1st to 6th on Kansas; 1 block east and west of Kansas) / Remainder of parade and run route closes approximately 4pm.

    Other Information:
    According to organizers, Downtown is partnering with Topeka Metro and Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots gift drive. Downtown merchants are encouraging people to “Shop & Drop”! Purchase a gift for a 0 to 17 year old, and drop the unwrapped item at one of two Topeka Metro buses, positioned conveniently on the parade route at 6th & Kansas and 10th & Harrison (starting 4pm, ending after parade).

    Handicapped Accessibility
    If handicapped individuals can park along the route, as promotional information says, it will be possible to park around the Capitol building to have access to the handicapped ramps on the side walks, to view the tree lighting and watch the parade.

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Gateway to Hell

    I'm not a believer in ghosts, but as Halloween approached I thought it would be of interest to readers of this blog to see some of the areas ghost stories and haunted attractions. One of the best known stories even has received international attention. Reportedly, in the early 1990's Pope John Paul II ordered his private plane to fly around eastern Kansas because he didn't want to fly over "unholy ground." I seen this statement from different sources some saying 1993, while others say 1995, however, we know from history that John Paul II did fly to Colorado where spoke to Denver's World Youth Day in July 1993. Each of sources attribute the statement to an article in Time magazine, however I have not been able to verify that the statement ever was in said magazine. So what kind of haunting legend would get the notice of even the Pope? How about the Devil himself? Reportedly there is seven gateways (or stairways) to the pits of hell. According to the legend, the cemetery in the little town of Stull, KS is one of them.
    Located about 20 miles from Topeka and about 12 miles from Lawrence, the little town of Stull is just a short drive.
    According to Legend the Devil's (Lucifer's) only half human son is buried in this old cemetery in an unmarked grave. In an article from Ghost2Ghost,
    The legends also say that the Devil has been appearing here since the 1850s and insist that the original name of the town was Skull and that the later corruption of that into Stull was simply to cover the fact that the area was steeped in black magic. It was said that the witchcraft-practicing early settlers were so repentant about their past deeds that they changed the name of the town. In truth, the town was called "Deer Creek Community" until 1899, when the last name of the first postmaster, Sylvester Stull, was adopted as the name of the village. The post office closed down in 1903, but the name stuck.

    In 1980, an article appeared in the Kansas City Times, rumors about Stull Cemetery and the abandoned church. The article states that the Devil chose two places to appear on Earth every Halloween. One of them was the tumbleweed hamlet of Stull, Kansas, which occurs simultaneously at midnight, is someplace on the "desolate plains of India". From these sites, according to the article, the Devil gathers all the people who died violent deaths over the past year for a prance around the Earth at the witching hour.
    An underground band, Urge Overkill wrote a song just for Stull Cemetery, below is a snippet from the lyrics:
    "Forty miles west of Kansas City, down a county road like a lonely soul, I see Sharon and I see Jack. It's me and Roman dressed all in black. Tell my bride to bury me in Stull....don't be afraid....don't be's great."

    In another article posted on the Prairie Ghosts website,
    But why in Stull? The article adds that he appears in Stull because of an event that took place in the 1850’s, when “a stable hand allegedly stabbed the mayor to death in the cemetery’s old stone barn. Years later, the barn was converted into a church, which in turn was gutted by fire. A decaying wooden crucifix that still hands from one wall is thought to sometimes turn upside-down when passersby step into the building at midnight...” The story neglects to mention that, historically speaking, neither the Deer Creek Community nor Stull have ever had an official mayor.

    Author Lisa Hefner Heitz has collected numerous legends that have added to the mythology of Stull Cemetery. Some of them include the “fact” that the Devil also appears at Stull on the last night of winter or the first night of spring. He comes to visit a witch that is buried there. Coincidentally, an old tombstone bearing the name “Wittich” is located fairly close to the old church. It should also be mentioned that there are rumors that an old tree in the graveyard, which was cut down a year or so ago, was once used as a gallows for condemned witches. There is also said to be a grave in the cemetery that holds the bones of a “child of Satan”, who was born of the Devil and a witch. The child was so deformed that he only lived for a few days and the body was buried in Stull. Some say that his ghost may walk here, as there supposedly was a photo taken a few years ago that shows a “werewolf-like boy” peering out from behind a tree.

    Below is a video from the Hometown Tales Podcasts.

    -- Hometown Tales, "The Gateway to Hell" © Oct 2006

    Do you have anything to add to this story? Do you have any other stories from Topeka? Add your comments below.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    Albino Woman of Topeka

    I'm not a believer in ghosts, but as Halloween approached I thought it would be of interest to readers to see some of the areas ghost stories and haunted attractions. There are several for Topeka. In fact the organizers of the Ghost tours here in Topeka, split their tours into Downtown, West Topeka and North Topeka.  That means to see all three areas, one would have to take and pay for three separate tours.  None of the tours are handicapped accessible, without special request being made ahead of time.  With that said, lets take a look at some of the stories from around town.

    Rochester Cemetery

    Perhaps one of the widest spread stories or legends around Topeka is that of the Albino lady and the Rochester Cemetery.

    According to the Legend, The Albino woman, is said to haunt various locations all around Topeka, but originated in Rochester Cemetery.

    Some say she is a living person, just that she cannot be out in the daylight and so wanders at night. Some on the internet claim to know who she is and where she lives. Others say that she used to be alive, and was indeed an albino woman who visited a grave each night in Rochester Cemetery but has since died, and having passed away her spirit now visits there nightly as she did in life.

    The “Albino Lady“, who was in fact a real woman, lived in the area near the cemetery. She was often seen at night prior to her death, walking her dog. She was called the “Albino Lady” because she had characteristics that mimic those of a health condition called “Albinism” which effects the amount of melanin the body produces. Those that have Albinism are likely to have skin, eyes, and hair that are ghostly white in color.

    Being labeled as an outcast because she was different from others, she rarely spoke to anyone and most that saw her were afraid of her or teased her. Having such sensitive skin due to a possible health condition, she may have had to limit her exposure to the sun, which may explain her walking her dog at night.
    The Kansas State Historical Society recants the story this way:
    A more recent haunting and one of Topeka's best-known ghost stories has its roots in the life of an albino woman who wandered her north Topeka neighborhood at night and glared at children on their way to school during the day. After the woman died in 1963, residents began reporting a glowing white female figure walking in the area after dark.

    Often the sightings were near Rochester Cemetery where the woman was buried. Several employees of the nearby Goodyear tire factory claimed to see her regularly, and some neighbors saw the apparition as often as once a week.

    The ghost's route was so regular that one resident began watching for it as it strolled across his lawn on clear nights. Eventually, he claimed, the figure began to pause and gaze at his house as though it wished to speak to him. It began to pass closer and closer to the house until one night it stood at his children's bedroom window and watched them as they slept. The man was badly scared, but the apparition never harmed his children.
    - Kansas State Historical Society

    Do you have anything to add to this story? Do you have any other stories from Topeka? Add your comments below.

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    TopCon - Topekas First Comic and Gaming Convention

    I have often thought Topeka needed a Comic Con type event here in Topeka. Now it actually is here.  The first ever TopCon will be held September 20, 2014, 9am-9pm.
    The Creation of International Award Winning Tattoo Artist, Jim "The GYPSY" George who saw the need for a true Geek Convention to take place in his beloved hometown of Topeka, Kansas.
    A press release issued this morning read as follows:
    QUINCY STREET Conference & Event CENTER in association with TATMAN PRODUCTIONS is honored to present the first Comic Book and Gaming Convention to ever take place in Topeka, Kansas; TOPCON COMIC & GAME EXPO!

    QUINCY STREET Conference & Event CENTER’s Curator of Exhibits and Owner of TATMAN PRODUCTIONS, Jim George AKA; The GYPSY, is the TOPCON COMIC & GAME EXPO Event Creator and Coordinator. The GYPSY puts his thoughts into why Topeka is overdue for an event of this kind. “With the ever increasing popularity of Comics and Games it was time for Topeka to step up to the plate and host an event of this nature. Kansas City has Planet Comicon, Hutchison has Smallville Comic Con and we after all are the Capital City of Kansas and Superman’s Metropolis; Topeka was long overdue.”

    TOPCON will play host to numerous Exhibitors including comic book artists, comic book dealers, costumers, game hosts and trinket dealers. TOPCON will have something of interest for most everyone. One of the exhibitors, Charity Delay, owner of “Wantz” on SW 29th in Topeka has stated, “Topeka needs things and this is a thing.”

    TOPCON will also host numerous free interactive activities for the public as well; Seminars, Discussions and Demonstrations. Table Talk Games of Topeka will be hosting 4 gaming tables. The Art Fusion Project will have a large canvas available that members of the public can paint on and add their own art to. The Washburn Gaming Club, as well as Steve Jackson Games local representative Bil Thompson, will be demonstrating several games. Special guests will conduct seminars plus many more planned activities.

    But the biggest interactive activity of all at TOPCON will be the COSPLAY COMPETITION. Where competitors will have the opportunity to costume themselves as their favorite fictional character from comics, games, television, movies, etc. and compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place recognition's.

    Special Guests at TOPCON range from local to International celebrities. At the top of the list is THE ENIGMA LIVE and in person at TOPCON. Star of Stage and Screen, The ENIGMA performs his Electric Acid Theater Show Devils Performance, an old fashioned Geeks Freak Show. The ENIGMA is also doing an exclusive appearance the day before the show on September 19, 2014 in The SKIN ART CREATIONS TATTOO EMPORIUM studio. Also appearing will be IBOT; IRON BROTHERS OF TOPEKA who just won Best Of Show in Chicago, Illinois in the Wizard World Comic Con Cosplay Competition. This year’s featured Artist is IAN ANDREW YOUNG who will be displaying and discussing his art of twisted board games.

    The First TOPCON COMIC & GAME EXPO has a small admission fee of $5.00 at the door and will be held on SEPTEMBER 20, 2014, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm at the QUINCY STREET Conference & Event CENTER, 707 SE Quincy Street, Topeka, Kansas. It promises to be an event to remember and plans for TOPCON 2015, a 3 day event, are already in the works.
    I'm already excited about next year already and I haven't even been to this years one day event, but a three day event has got to be better then one day.

    The conference center is on the third floor (top floor) of the New Century Credit Union and is accessible via the elevator. 

    Quincy Street Conference & Event Center
    707 SE Quincy Street
    Suite 300
    Topeka, Kansas 66603

    Monday, June 30, 2014

    Elephant Slides - Hidden Gems in Topeka

    Yesterday, Sunday June 29, 2014 at noon the wife and I joined a group of folks at Ward Parkway Park (in the 1600 block of Burnett Rd). You might be asking yourself, where is Burnett Rd. It is off 17th street, 1st road east of Mount Hope Cemetery.  Located in a quiet neighborhood, this park has no parking other then on the street.  There are plenty of shade, a couple picnic tables, a grill , a couple of brightly colored benches and of course the elephant slide.
    The slide, was the focus of the nine people that showed up. Seven on lookers, enjoying the fellowship as two people, Jim "Gypsy" and Deb George re-painted the slide shaped like an elephant.

    Artists at work. Gypsy and his wife re- paint the elephant slide.
    Photography by Kevin Surbaugh
    George, who owns Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium, said he is restoring the artwork on three slides in Topeka parks that had been painted to look like elephants. The slide was a highlight of the Children’s Park near S.W. 6th and MacVicar when he was a boy, he said, and while he was pleased to see it was still there when he moved back to Topeka in October, the slide showed signs of weathering and the paint was peeling.
    - Megan Hart (staff writer for Topeka Capital Journal)

    photography by Kevin Surbaugh

    Photography by Kevin Surbaugh
    According to Gypsy the three slides that he and his wife know of and the names he's given each of them are:
    1. Children's Park (6th and McVicar) Elphie
    2. Ward Parkway Park (1600 block of Burnett) Pinky
    3. Sims Park (18th and Sims Ct.) Puchie

    photography by Kevin Surbaugh
    According to recent newspaper article, quoted earlier, kids are loving the repainted elephants. Gypsy said that when he hears of another location, he checks it out to see if it is still there. He believes that originally, all the parks had one of these slides. Unfortunately many of them are no longer there. Personally, we think it would be great if another one or two could be found and restored.  It is possible, that some may have been painted over and just don't have the elephant on them anymore. Which may mean a small amount of imagination may be required to see what it originally was.
    Photography by Kevin Surbaugh
    Photography by Kevin Surbaugh

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    The Pad

    We are on the search for the best burger in Topeka. Here is how we rate the burger joints that we will review. First we put heavy emphasis on where the joint is headquartered, Local (Topeka) will garner an automatic 10 bonus points. Kansas owned chains (headquartered in Lawrence, Wichita, etc) an automatic 5 bonus points and National chains (those headquartered outside the state) will garner an automatic 0 bonus points. The ten categories that we will use in our search for the best burger in Topeka will be 1.Burger Patties Quality, 2. Bun Quality, 3. Customer Service, 4. Garnish Quality, 5. Fries Quality, 6. Atmosphere, 7. Order Accuracy, 8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc), 9. Building Accessibility and 10. Price. All categories will earn a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the poorest.

    It has been years since I had been to The Pad, the iconic north Topeka burger joint, that briefly had a second location on southwest Washburn. So I was eager to get once again wrap my mouth around and sink my teeth into one of their burgers to see if it was as good as I remembered it.  According to Topeka Capital Journal's, "Best of Topeka" survey, it has been rated one of the top five burgers in Topeka.  So what did my taste buds say?
    photographer Kevin Surbaugh

     Bonus Points: 10

    1. Burger Patties Quality 7
    It was nice to finally eat the cheapest burger at a local joint and be able to really taste the meat.  A nice 1/4 pound burger. Diffidently the biggest burger we have reviewed thus far. Can't say where's the beef at this place. Although, I can't really place my finger on it, but the taste of the burger was a little off. Seemed a little bland, maybe a little old.  Just not sure. Neither really describe the taste I was sensing. Not sure how to really describe it.  For the most part it was great. The fact that this is another one of those places that serves Pepsi™ instead of the better tasting Coke™ didn't help. A nice ice cold Coca-Cola™ might have improved the taste greatly.
    photograph by Kevin Surbaugh

    2. Bun Quality 10
    A nice buttered toasted bun that actually looked and tasted toasted.  

    3. Customer Service 10
     Cashier was very attentive to the customers and doing her part to assure the kitchen staff received our special requests so the cooks prepared the burger exactly as we had ordered.  Mine was ketchup only and the wife only had mayonnaise and pickles on her burger. So kudos to them, especially during a busy lunch rush.

    4. Garnish Quality 10
    Garnish was good and fresh with plenty of pickles. This place doesn't try to chimp you on the number of pickles that they put on your burger, like so many places that only put two or three. The Pad Restaurant actually put five pickles on my wife's burger.

    5. Fries Quality 10
     The Pad is one of the few places that serve curly-Q's which in my book makes them better then McDonald's™ Fries. These homemade french fries still had some of the peelings on them. The best part I could actually taste the potatoes, there was no questioning, "where's the potatoes," like at those places that serve those worthless shoestring fries.  In my book, The Pad does a better job with their fries then their burgers. To bad, we aren't searching for the best fries in Topeka.
    photograph by Kevin Surbaugh

    6. Atmosphere 9
    The Pad is another one of those sit down places that is better known for it's burgers and fries. It offers a little fast food vibe, with music barely audible in the background. A salad bar is also available to complete the true sit down restaurant option.

    7. Order Accuracy 10
    An excellent job on the staff, who prepared our orders exactly as requested. On my part I ordered my quarter pound burger with ketchup only.  My wife ordered the same burger with mayonnaise and pickles only.

    8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc) 10
    Despite being during a busy lunch rush, the restaurant  appeared to be in great clean condition. The restrooms were clean, as was the dinning room and entrance.  The condition of the restaurant actually exceeded what I was expecting during such a busy time of day. 

    9. Building Accessibility 8
     The building was very accessible, except for one thing. That one thing might give some people with limited mobility a little trouble. There is a heavy door in front of the set of separate restroom doors. Some with mobility issues could have trouble opening  this door and those in wheel chairs might find it a tight squeeze to then open the next door to the respective restroom. An easy fix would be to remove this outer door, thus creating a kind of mini hallway .

    10. Price 8
     Burger costs more, but there was more meat. Drinks were way overpriced , like so many places, considering the the syrup itself is only 25¢. They could still a good profit by charging only $1/cup, but the same could be said of most establishments.

    Burger $3.25 x2
    Fries $1.15 x2
    Small drinks $1.69 x2
    Total $13.27 

    Total Points: 10.2 
    A great score, thanks in part to the bonus points earned for being a local owned restaurant.

    Friday, June 6, 2014

    Cook's American Grill

    We are on the search for the best burger in Topeka. Here is how we rate the burger joints that we will review. First we put heavy emphasis on where the joint is headquartered, Local (Topeka) will garner an automatic 10 bonus points. Kansas owned chains (headquartered in Lawrence, Wichita, etc) an automatic 5 bonus points and National chains (those headquartered outside the state) will garner an automatic 0 bonus points. The ten categories that we will use in our search for the best burger in Topeka will be 1.Burger Patties Quality, 2. Bun Quality, 3. Customer Service, 4. Garnish Quality, 5. Fries Quality, 6. Atmosphere, 7. Order Accuracy, 8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc), 9. Building Accessibility and 10. Price. All categories will earn a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the poorest.

    Cook's American Grill is a local burger joint that has been one of my favorite places.  Even though, it is much more then a burger joint, we are taking a look at then today in our search for the best burger in Topeka.

    Bonus Points: 10

    1. Burger Patties Quality: 8
     Here is another place that serves up a thin burger to try to keep costs down as beef prices continue to rise. Even though there was more bun then meat, it had a great texture. Cooked thoroughly and not overdone. I enjoyed the burger for the most part. However, they serve Pepsi™, even though in the opinion of this humble reviewer (as I've said before), Pepsi™ brings the rating down.  Nothing against Pepsi™, but to me it tastes flat in a head to head comparison to Coke™. Pepsi™ is sweeter the Coca-Cola™. That sweet/flatter taste diminishes the taste of the burger, rather then enhancing it, like the Coke™ does.  It's kind of like the old Coke™ ads, "Everything tastes better, with a Coke™".

    photographer Kevin Surbaugh
    2. Bun Quality: 10
    The bun is a Sara Lee bun that is toasted on the grill before being put on the burger.

    3. Customer Service: 10
     From the counter help to the grill crew each member of this small local establishment provides excellent service.

    4. Garnish Quality: 10
     The garnish was excellent and very fresh as one would expect from a restaurant. 

    5. Fries Quality: 9
     Nice crispy fries, could be a little better they weren't quite so crispy, but the home made taste gives them a strong rating in my book. Another huge plus, was being able to bite into the potatoes.

    6. Atmosphere: 10
     The atmosphere of  Cook's is that of a small town cafe. A style that I miss from my days of growing up in a small town, so when I get the chance I enjoy stopping in a place like this.

    7. Order Accuracy: 10
    The counter person was very friendly and attentive, taking our special request order as we requested and the grill crew prepared it exactly as the order was taken.

    8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc): 9

    The restrooms were very clean except the trash cans could use a good cleaning.  As for the dinning areas, one can diffidently tell they have done business throughout the day and the carpeted dining room is harder to keep clean.

    9. Building Accessibility: 8
    The building is fairly accessible to some with limited mobility although with the double door entrance a person in a wheelchair might have some trouble navigating the doors as they come in. Upon exit, with both doors swinging out the exit would be easier.
    However, getting down the narrow hall and in and out the restrooms would be next to impossible for someone in a wheelchair.  

    10. Price: 9
    burger $2.75 x2
    Fries $1.69 x2
    Soda $1.49 x2
    Total price for two meals: $

    Total Points:  9.4

    Mon - Sat: 7:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Closed Sunday's
    1936 SW Gage Blvd
    Topeka KS 


     Cook's American Grill

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Hidden Cash in Topeka

    This past weekend the Hidden Cash craze that had taken San Francisco by storm arrived in Kansas. Anonymous donors not connected to the San Francisco millionaire have teamed up to bring the excitement to the sunflower state. Saturday was the first few drops around Topeka. The first being at the Rainbow colored Unity House. That one being in the amount of $50.
    The second was at Sk8 Away, which contained $20 and a skate pass, then two more (1 inside and the other outside) of $20 each at the Kansas Expocenter. 
    Sunday and Monday brought nothing but teases of a possible drop.  Tuesday was pretty quite until around 7 pm, when a spur of the moment drop was made in the little park, home of the iconic WREN bird.
    photographer Kevin Surbaugh
    The clue for that one was, "Remember wren I flew higher."  Upon reading that, my wife and I went on the look for some hidden cash.  Arriving there was no one there, with more arriving after the wife and I. However, we were to late. It had been found and they had already left.  Oh well, better luck next time.  Then all sudden around 10 pm, Topeka had another spur of the moment drop,  HiddenCashKs tweeted, "Topeka! Here's another spur of the moment drop! Chesney park, on clay and Buchannan! Get there and start looking!" With the wife manning the computer, I ran out to the car and drove to my old stomping ground in search of the cash.  When I arrived, she was on the phone letting me know if there was any updates.  There were none. Just replies about the drop. Some concerned that it was to dangerous of a neighborhood to be out so late at night.  Others like me who spent two hours, even though the park closed at 11 pm, trying to figure out where this cash was.  Finally the last of us left. Not knowing if the cash was found or if someone didn't report finding it or what. No second clue came and it was just getting to late to keep looking. 
    Rumor is that this weekend, the anonymous people behind this form of Pay It Forward, will be doing a possible massive scavenger type hunt. With multiple drops in one location.  Sounds like fun, if in fact it comes to fruition. Who knows there could be more between now and the weekend to.  Only time will see. 

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Great Mural Wall of Topeka

    The Great Mural Wall of Topeka, when completed is expected to be the biggest Mural Wall in Topeka and perhaps the State of Kansas. The three-sided mural was first painted in 2007 — goes down Western (across from the Expocenter) and turns the corner on 20th and now Fillmore.

    Preserving Memories of the Free Fair
    painted in 2009
    lead Artist Dave Lowenstein
    Assisted by KT Walsh
    and Topeka High Art Students
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    A History of Central Park
    painted in 2008
    lead Artist Dave Lowenstein
    Assisted by KT Walsh and Natalie Dye
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    Preserving Memories of the Free Fair
    painted in 2008
    lead Artist Dave Lowenstein
    Assisted by KT Walsh
    and Julie Ferreira
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    Tribute to Grant Cushinberry (part 2)
    painted in 2007
    lead Artist Dave Lowenstein Assisted by Camille Bachand
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    Tribute to Grant Cushinberry (part 1)
    painted in 2007
    lead Artist Dave Lowenstein Assisted by Camille Bachand
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    Ad Terra Per Agilitas
    painted in 2010
    lead Artist Kit Walsh Assisted by Ashley Laird
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    Putting Down Roots in Elmhurst
    painted in 2009
    lead Artist Kit Walsh Assisted by Ashley Laird
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
    Reanimating The Arts in Topeka
    painted in 2011
    Lead Artist Ashley Laird Assisted by Dave Loewnstein with help from
    Cicelia, Aja and Community Volunteers
    Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    It has been about three (3) years since the Great Mural Wall of Topeka had seen a new project. Primarily because the Kansas Arts Commission was dismantled, funding has been hard to come by, the 900-foot, partially-completed wall in central Topeka honoring the cultural history and ongoing spirit of Topekans and their neighborhoods went void of fresh paint and new art.
    The Kansas Women's Mural Currently being painted in 2014
    Lead Artist Ashley Laird
    photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    The Kansas Women's Mural Currently being painted in 2014
    Lead Artist Ashley Laird
    photographer Kevin Surbaugh

    Stay tuned I will stay on top of when they complete these latest two panels.

    A video of the wall from our friends at "I Love Topeka."

    Saturday, May 24, 2014

    Free Movies in the Park

    Enjoy family night at the movies in the city parks on Saturday nights through the summer. Take your lawn chairs and/or blankets. Admission is free, and concessions will be available for purchase. No outside food or beverage will be allowed.

  • 5/24/14, RIPLEY PARK, DESPICABLE ME 2 @ 8:30 p.m.
  • 5/31/14, GARFIELD PARK, Planes @ 8:30 p.m.
  • 6/7/14, SANTA FE PARK, movie TBD @ 8:30 p.m.>
  • 6/15/14, GARFIELD PARK, Monster University @ 8:30 p.m.
  • 6/21/14, BILLARD PARK, movie TBD @ 8:30 p.m.
  • 6/28/14, Meadowood Park, Lego Movie @ 8:30 p.m.
  • 6/30/14, GARFIELD PARK, Saving Mr. Banks @ 9 p.m.

    July and August to be announced at a later date.
  • Free Concert in North Topeka

    Topeka resident and Country Gospel Singer, Pete Whitebird, will once again have a concert in Topeka. Tomorrow, Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm. It has been a few years since I attended a concert of his, but I am sure his comedy act of "Bubba", will once again be a part of his concert. If you not heard him sing or heard his comedy, I highly recommend that take this opportunity to take in this FREE concert at Seaman Congregational 2036 NW Taylor Rd, Topeka, KS 66608

    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    Race Car Driver Shane Gray Coming to Topeka

    photo courtesy of NHRA
    We recently learned that NHRA race car driver Shane Gray, will be signing autograph's at Menard's on Thursday May 22, 2014. His Gray Motorsports Camaro will be on display in the parking lot as well. According to the poster displayed on the front doors of the store, Gray and his Jerry Haas-built Camaro will be at Menards, located at 6401 SW 17th St in Topeka, KS, on Thursday, May 22, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Gray will meet fans and sign autographs, and the public will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with his race car.

    Gray and his team will also be at the NHRA Kansas Nationals in Topeka, Memorial Day weekend.

    Monday, May 19, 2014


    We are on the search for the best burger in Topeka. Here is how we rate the burger joints that we will review. First we put heavy emphasis on where the joint is headquartered, Local (Topeka) will garner an automatic 10 bonus points. Kansas owned chains (headquartered in Lawrence, Wichita, etc) an automatic 5 bonus points and National chains (those headquartered outside the state) will garner an automatic 0 bonus points. The ten categories that we will use in our search for the best burger in Topeka will be 1.Burger Patties Quality, 2. Bun Quality, 3. Customer Service, 4. Garnish Quality, 5. Fries Quality, 6. Atmosphere, 7. Order Accuracy, 8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc), 9. Building Accessibility and 10. Price. All categories will earn a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the poorest. 

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Bonus Points: 5

    1.Burger Patties Quality 7
    photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    The burgers were thin, but cooked through. However, I would hope so as thin as the single burgers were. Taste was edible, but have tasted much better with Coke™ rather then Pepsi™ (which tastes like flat watered down Coke™ to me). Aside from the amount of meat (or lack thereof) the Pepsi™ was the biggest thing to bring down the rating in burger quality.
    2. Bun Quality 8
    The buns seemed fresh and were buttered. They didn't appear to be toasted which would of made the bun quality even better. Kudo's to them for at least buttering the bun, but a toasted bun would have been so much better. 
    3. Customer Service 7
     Ordering was very fast and efficient, as was receiving our food. However, they did not explain that lettuce and pickles do not come standard on their burgers.  They just tacked on an extra 15 cents for each of these garnishes.  As first time visitors to this restaurant this left a bad taste in our mouth. Which meant as both a customer and a reviewer we were not happy.
    4. Garnish Quality 7
    While all the vegetables and condiments were very good and fresh. Which would of earned them the highest marks in this category, the fact they charged extra for pickles and lettuce without even alerting us to this atrocious  extra charge, brought the ranking down a few points.
    5. Fries Quality 7
     I am not a fan of shoe string fries. As it leaves me want to shout, "Where's the potatoes?" I like my potatoes, no scratch that I love my potatoes and when I eat a fry, I want to taste the potato not air. So on this category, I have to again give lower marks, even thought they were hot and fresh tasting.
    6. Atmosphere 7
     While I am a fan of oldies music, it seems a little tacky to hear an oldies radio station rather the Muzak®. Especially when the first thing I heard when I set down with my food was a commercial for a competitor (also headquartered in the same city as Freddy's™).
    7. Order Accuracy 5
    missing fries  photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    We ordered two steak burger combo's. What we received was one combo (burger, fries and drink), One burger and one drink. We had to return to ask about the fries. The problem was completely in the kitchen, as our receipt clearly showed  the cashier had rung it up as we had ordered.  The kitchen tried to tell us that their monitor only said one combo was ordered.  If they had been honest and not lied about it, I would have given higher marks, but because they lied to try cover up their own mistake, I gave them a five rather then the seven that they could have received with the same mistake. Accidents happen, and I understand, but I hate lying.
    8. Cleanliness (Restrooms, Dinning area, Entrance, etc) 2
    Of all the restaurant reviews I have done for this blog and another blog, this is the poorest ranking I have given for cleanliness, but that is because it was the dirtiest. After using the restroom, we extremely considered taking Dr. Oz's advice and walk out without ordering anything. However, we needed to write this review. So we persevered.
    photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    So what did we find objectionable in terms of cleanliness at this national fast food chain

  • Trash on the floor of both restrooms.

  • Chrome on the the bottom of the restroom doors (and kitchen doors) looked like they hadn't been cleaned in days if not weeks (as I tried to photograph in the picture to the right).

  • Numerous fingerprints on kitchen and restroom doors.

  • Front windows were dirty

  • The only thing positive was that the dinning room floor and tables appeared to be clean, and that an employee was seen cleaning the tables as the handful of customers left.

    9. Building Accessibility 10
    This building having been built only a few years ago, had been constructed in a manner that was easily accessible from the three handicapped parking stalls in the parking lot.
    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    10. Price 8
    $4.89 (per Single Steak burger  combo meal) x2 Each Combo comes with a Steakburger, Fries and a drink. They also charged us an extra 15 cents for lettuce and another extra 15 cents for pickles. Two things that come standard on most burgers. At least the pickles. The lettuce I might have seen as being an extra charge, if they had politely informed of this. Since they didn't it left us feeling misled.

    Over all the score: 7.2
    Looking back at our experience with the cleanliness (and charging extra for pickles) as well as the fact they serve Pepsi™, it is unlikely there will be a second visit to this establishment or any other Freddy's™.

    Sunday - Thursday 10:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
    Friday - Saturday 10: 30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
    1050 SW Wanamaker Rd
    Topeka, KS 66614

    ****Update The extra charges were for Lettuce and tomatoes. We misread the receipt. We regret that error. It was an extra 15 cents for tomatoes and extra 15 cents for lettuce. Still feel this was ridiculous. The Franchise operator recently said that next week the prices of their menu items would be going away, and the extra charges for optional tomatoes and lettuce would be eliminated.

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Brown v Topeka Board - 60 Years Later

    It has been 60 years since Topeka was rocked by the court case that would be heard around the world. The famous Brown v Topeka Board of Education. In fact this Saturday will mark the 50th anniversary. Topeka already has a National Park Site to commemorate the historic event. Which is important, because as they say, "he who forgets the past, is doomed to repeat it."

    As such there will be some special events happening this weekend to help everyone of all ages to remember.

    1. Monroe Kindergarten (National Park Service)

      See the National Park Service’s renovation of the old Monroe kindergarten room. Restored to look like it did in the early 1950s, the room will contain games, toys and books from the period.

      When: Friday, May 16, 2014, 11am

      Location: Brown v Board National Historic Site

    2. First Lady Michelle Obama

      The First Lady of the United States will be here in Topeka tonight for a special senior recognition event to celebrate the 60 year anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision.

      When: Friday, May 16, 2014, 5pm

      Admission: Free but invited guests only (Tickets required)

      Location: Kansas Expocentre

    3. Legacy Walk (National Park Service)

      Walk from Monroe Elementary to Sumner Elementary, reversing the path traveled before the Supreme Court ended segregation in Topeka and the Nation’s schools. Two-hour ranger-led walk. Wear comfortable shoes. Return transportation will be available.

      When: Saturday, May 17, 2014, 10 & 1pm

      Location: Brown v Board National Historic

    4. Sumner Tours, Oral Histories, Future Uses

      Take a look at the building where the case began. Share your stories with staff on site to record vital oral histories and join the conversation on future uses of the school.

      When: Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9am-6pm
      Sunday, May 18, 2014 1pm—6pm

      Location: Sumner Elementary School
      330 SW Western Avenue

    5. Twitter Re-enactment of Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Court Decision. Follow the site on Twitter @BRVB_NHS for a re-enactment of the Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Court decision and the world’s reaction.

      Saturday, May 17, 2014 thru Sunday, May 18, 2014

      Admission: Free on Twitter
      Location: Twitter on your computer, tablet or smartphone

    6. Brown Foundation Banquet

      The Brown Foundation offers a tribute to the seminal events of the Civil Rights Movement. Commemorate the 60th Anniversary with celebrity host Carl Boyd, speaker Danny Strong and keynote speaker Carolyn Maull (McKinstry).

      When: Saturday, May 17, 2014, 7pm

      Location: Ramada Inn & Convention Center (Downtown)

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    Santa Fe 3463

    The vintage Sante Fe 3463 locomotive above was designed by H.H. Lanning and his staff in Topeka, Kansas, and built in 1937 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Pennsylvania. The steam locomotive was first assigned between La Junta, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois.

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Later with the introduction of the diesel engine, service was changed to Kansas City and Oklahoma City and Kansas City between Tulsa, Oklahoma. Eventually being displaced by diesel in the 1950's, the #3463 made it's last run in 1953 with a run between Newton, Kansas, and Emporia, Kansas. For three years, the class 4-6-4 locomotive remained in Emporia until 1956 when it was permanently moved to the Topeka Fairgrounds which is more commonly known today as the Kansas Expocentre. This steam locomotive is the only one from this class in existence today.

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    This locomotive was built in 1937 and retired in 1953.

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    Kansas Expocenter
    One Expocenter Drive
    Southeast parking lot just off Topeka near 17th
    South of hotel
    photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    People with mobility issues in grassy area will find it difficult to get close to. The best way to access it, for the closest view if you have mobility issues is the hike and bike trail that runs behind  it in the pictures above. That of course may still be difficult for some with mobility issues.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    White Concert Hall Murals

    There are two murals at White Concert Hall. I have been attempting to find more about the murals, but so far have not been able to find out when they were painted or by whom.  They are located just inside the front doors of White Concert Hall.
    In addition to those two there are murals on the Mulvane loading dock, on the Physical Plant building and on the exterior of the connection between the Memorial Union and the Living Learning Center. The latter of which, was painted by then Washburn art students Judith Wade and Maria Guzman in 2003.

    I will be back to Washburn to photograph more of the public arts in the coming weeks.

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    White Concert Hall
    17th and Jewell

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    Annual Job Fair Event to be Held Monday

    Second district Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins announced that her annual job fair will be Monday, May 5, 2013, at the Agriculture Hall at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. The event is scheduled between 9am and noon.
    Congresswoman Jenkins said 72 employers have registered to attend the annual Jobs Fair, which attracted more then 900 job seekers last year.
    According to the Capitol Journal,
    “Even in a difficult economic climate we have received overwhelming support from the local business community as more than 70 employers have registered,” Jenkins said in a press release, which noted that an estimated 1,030 job openings are available.
    - Topeka Capitol Journal


    Gracing the front lawn of the Mulvane Art Museum. Interdependence reveals the ongoing spirit and changing nature of art.

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh

    photo by Kevin Surbaugh
    Created Date:

    Yu Yu Yang

    Sculpture Type:
    Polished stainless steel

    Mulvane Art Museum
    (one of the oldest art museums in Kansas)
    near 17th and Jewel
    1700 SW Jewel
    Topeka, KS 66621

    It is on grass but plenty visible from the sidewalk or street.