Hays House 1857 Restaurant & Tavern
Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern founder, Seth Hays, is considered the founder of Council Grove, KS. Most notably this shrewd, colorful, and successful trader and rancher was also Daniel Boone's great-grandson. He arrived in town in 1847 with a license to trade with the Kansa indigenous tribe, known today as the Kaw Reservation. At this time the town was already a wagon train rendezvous on the bustling Santa Fe Trail. Hays soon built a log cabin and began the business of serving food and trading goods. The building that today houses the Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern was built by Seth in 1857 and sits straight on the Santa Fe Trail, now Main Street, Council Grove.
From the mid-to-late 1800s, this restaurant and trading post was also the site of many other local activities. The U.S. government rented space in the building to hold court and distribute mail. Saturday nights saw bartenders covering up the liquor bottles so church services could be held on Sunday mornings.
In the early years when the roof was peaked, theatrical performances were held on the second floor. In 1886, a fire destroyed several buildings on the north side of Main Street, but thanks to several local citizens the Hays House was first saved. We’ll never know if it was because it was the local tavern or they had other more Godly reasons. Soon after, the sides were raised, the roof became flat, and the second floor became ten "rooms to let.” While we no longer “let the rooms” for sleeping, our upstairs dining options are perfect for private events and extra dining space.
We encourage you to explore the historic rooms of the Hays House Restaurant, a National Register Historic Landmark. Step back in time to the rustic stone basement, with the original bar. Here you can imagine Santa Fe Trail travelers saddling up and tossing a few back. Then work your way upstairs to the Crystal Room which houses the Judd Family's prized crystal collection. There are curiosities to discover on every floor. When visiting these spaces, imagine hosting bridal or baby showers in the Crystal Room, and the bachelor parties or group gatherings that can be had in the basement.
We are the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi. Purchased in 2019 by co-owners Frankie Greco and executive chef Randall Dickson, a new life has been infused into this historical dining institution. We offer soulful, quality food in a family-friendly atmosphere. Our terrific service and down-home prices are the reasons why, after 165 years, we are still going strong.
The Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern is a true historical-dining destination in the Flint Hills of Kansas!
Meet the Owners
Third-generation cattle rancher and restauranteur, Frankie Greco, learned all he knows from solid life experience and profound life lessons from his father and grandfather. It is this deep understanding of the importance of the past that sparked his in investing in a historical dining institution — a project not taken on by the faint of heart.
At all times Frankie has in mind, a clearly defined vision for Hays House's guests. When you walk through the doors you will find a simple, country experience featuring straight-forward Kansas cuisine, with a little hitch in its giddy-up! Combining that with top-notch service and a rancher’s heart as its vibe, Frankie is set on creating a unique experience unlike any other.
The Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern re-opened in 2019 with new ownership just as the Covid-19 pandemic was settling in across the globe. Together with executive chef and co-owner, Randy Dickson, the two have begun to carry on the traditions and legacies that this 165-year-old restaurant deserves. With a vision that honors history and traditions, while blazing a unique trail to the future, a new Flint Hills legacy is being built.
Frankie is building a magical Flint Hills lifestyle, full of time on the prairie, devotion to God, and community-driven relationships with everyone he meets.
Stop in, shake some hands, have a drink, and experience the standard of food and service Frankie has designed to propel Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern forward into the next 165 years!
Executive Chef / Co-Owner
Chef Randy Dickson has a natural passion for food. He has spent his career creating new spins on traditional cuisine. As a lifelong Kansas resident, Chef Randy has developed and perfected the flavors of prairie life. Using time-tested techniques and the highest quality, local food he can get, Randy is the driving force behind the soulful Hays House menu. Thankfully, he is also the artist that creates the often raved about desserts — a true “can’t miss” course for any Hays House diner.
As an avid competitive barbecuer, he honors the traditional fare that the Council Grove (and beyond) community has come to love, while taking the time to create exciting new dishes that have Hays House guests coming back for more… and more… and more!
In his spare time, Chef Randy hustles a little pool and is contemplating the time commitment of getting a dog. Let’s all cheer him on for that one!
The Hays House 1857 Restaurant and Tavern re-opened in 2019 with new ownership, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was settling in across the globe. Together with co-owners, Frankie & Shey-Anne Greco, they stood the course and the two have now begun to carry on the traditions and legacies that this 165-year-old restaurant deserves. With a vision that honors history and traditions, while blazing a unique trail to the future, Randy, Frankie, and Shey-Anne are building a new Flint Hills legacy.
We invite you to experience the elevated, down-home, quality food, drinks, and service that are ensuring Hays House’s place as the beloved institution it is. With Chef Randy Dickson at the helm of the kitchen, the Hays House is sure to be a critically acclaimed success.