December 14, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
My brother and sister-in-law recently visited us from Fairfax, Virginia. He grew up in Junction City and remembered Cohen’s Chicken On A Tray Restaurant when it was on Grant Avenue. He knew it had moved to Grandview Plaza at some point and then burned. The restaurant was well known to residents in this area. Thanks to Charles Kuralt, who did a television travel show, the restaurant received national attention.
I found an article written by Don Muret, who was a staff writer for the “Daily Union” newspaper. He wrote: “Chicken-on-a tray and fingerbowls have been in existence at Cohen’s Chicken and Steak House since Sam and Mildred Cohen opened the restaurant on Grant Avenue in 1930.” The author went on to state that “Charles Kuralt should have known he had put his foot in his mouth when he mentioned during his “On The Road” tv show that there were no decent restaurants along Interstate 70 in Kansas. Cohen said Kuralt was inundated with a “gang of mail” from Kansans and other Americans extolling the delicious virtues of Cohen’s Restaurant in the Junction City area.
Those letters provided enough impetus for Kuralt and his tv crew to come back to Kansas and sample Cohen’s chicken delights. A 20 minute segment was produced and aired later.
Years before, when Sam and Mildred first opened the chicken house, the “New Yorker” magazine featured Cohen’s. The “Mobil Travel Guide” also contained several pieces on the restaurant. Cohen’s was also recommended by Duncan Hines and endorsed by Betty Crocker and the American Automobile Association.
Cohen’s moved to a higher elevation in Grandview Plaza following the 1951 flood that practically sank the building on Grant Avenue in Junction City. David Cohen and his father, Gene became partners when they took over the business when Sam and Mildred died in 1978.
In January of 2002, the restaurant caught fire and was later closed.
Many of us remember the Chicken-on a Tray in the cozy restaurant. It was a special place to celebrate special occasions or just enjoy the tasty food.
And… that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.