Chef plans to add special touch
Bichelmeyer’s Steakhouse hires a chef with culinary experience
Three months ago, Matt Bichelmeyer thought he just might close the doors to Bichelmeyer Meat and Grocery for good.
"It was a little bitty grocery store with not enough room for anything, and with the street construction going on downtown, business was way down," Bichelmeyer said.
But instead of shutting down the business he'd owned for nine years, he opted to open again bringing a new restaurant to downtown Tonganoxie.
On April 1, Bichelmeyer's Steakhouse plans to open with fanfare that includes a pianist at a baby grand piano, a newly remodeled Victorian interior and a chef who knows how to make a restaurant work.
That chef, Bill Lipe, 70, who moved in April to Tonganoxie, is not exactly a newcomer here. He moved here in 1959 with his family to serve as minister of the Congregational Church.
He later left the pulpit and cooked up a new career as a chef.
"I started with Gilbert Robinson at the Plaza III," Lipe said.
After his training as a chef, Lipe also worked at several locations, including the Muehlebach Hotel, Alameda Plaza Hotel and Kemper Arena's Arena Club, all in Kansas City, Mo., as well as Shadow Rock Lodge in Forsythe, Mo., and the Expo Centre in Topeka.
"I sometimes got into places that were losing money and they'd hire me to come in and get them straightened out," Lipe said. "It always worked out."
In plying his new trade, Lipe learned the finer skills of culinary arts, talents he plans to put to work at Bichelmeyer's Steakhouse.
Along with traditional American food such as steaks, hamburgers and pork chops, the menu will include steak Diane, a table-side flaming dish and boeuf bourguignonne.
Trained as a patissier, Lipe said he will have from six to eight different desserts available.
Lipe said diners will choose from three or four kinds of bread, and said he'll be making French bread from scratch.
As customary, his uniform will be a starched cotton jacket and hat, as well as white gloves.
With all this, Lipe said costs would be kept in mind.
"We're not going to be high-priced," he said. "Our prices will be comparable to other restaurants in the area."
Lipe, who retired in 1992, said it's exciting to be starting work again.
"It's really an enjoyable job," he said. "It's kind of one of those things that's a hobby and you'd almost pay to do it."