The lights of Ad Astra Food & Drink will once again brighten up downtown Strong City, after the well-loved restaurant came under new local ownership — and a new, but familiar, chef.
Jared Roberts, owner of Jim Roberts & Son Western apparel store, purchased Ad Astra from former owner Matt Flowers, after Flowers closed the restaurant due to low staffing. Now, the Chase County businessman is hoping to bring the restaurant back to its former glory — and a few new twists — with the help of local chef, Stan Lerner.
“I really didn’t want to see Ad Astra close,” Roberts said. “I’m trying to revitalize the whole Twin Cities there.”
Roberts said the pieces all fell together when Lerner, who will continue to own and operate Chef Stan’s Place on Sundays, came on as the head chef.
“The great thing about Stan is that he’s worked coast to coast and he’s been an advisor to some of the biggest names in the industry, so he’s like the perfect guy to keep it great for locals but then elevate it to a higher end,” Roberts said. “The most important part is keeping the favorites on the menu, but then giving it that Flint Hills, cattle-country twist.”
Lerner said the opportunity fit well in his plans, as he was planning on expanding the hours of his own kitchen for the summer. And, like many others, Lerner said he wanted to see streets outside Ad Astra once again packed with cars.
“I know how much it means to people,” Lerner said. “At the moment because of my one-day-a-week schedule, if I’m going to do more days, it would be now and it could be at Ad Astra so I was like, ‘you know what, for the greater good.”
While Roberts and Lerner plan to keep much of the same offerings on the menu, Ad Astra will also become a hub for more high-end cuisine, including tomahawk and T-bone steak options, rack of lamb, smoked duck, butter honey-glazed salmon, wines and more.
Lerner said he also hopes to bring even more creative dishes into the restaurant as staffing allows. In particular, he hopes to see favorites like Chilean Sea Bass, prairie pizza, Bobby Flay-inspired quesadillas, grilled cheese and more.
And don’t worry: the famous brussel sprouts are here to stay.
Lerner said he also hopes to establish a specialty for himself and each of his employees, as he works to train the next generation of Chase County chefs.
“In the better culinary world, that’s really important,” Lerner said. “To empower your chef or sous chef. … I want to get our up-and-comers into doing some really spectacular specials and that way they have artistic satisfaction. They may make the next big thing that Ad Astra is known for.”
The restaurant is set to open its doors on June 1 for rodeo weekend and continue to offer good food and drinks seven days a week. Roberts said he also hopes to bring live music and comedians for select Saturday nights, as well as stay open later — giving Chase Countians another option for night-life.
It will also expand into the building next door, opening up more kitchen space as well as space for a beer garden and entertainment.
Roberts said he hopes the restaurant will drive entrepreneurs to bring more retail spaces and restaurants to the community.
“I have a feeling that this could be like a really cool hub for the Flint Hills and to revitalize Strong City and Cottonwood Falls, that’s what we’re really wanting to do,” Roberts said.
Ad Astra is currently hiring staff for the restaurant. Anyone interested in applying can reach out at email@example.com, reach out to Lerner or stop by Ad Astra or Chef Stan’s Place.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.