Face to Face: Grandpa’s Burger Box’s Kristin Conley
Name: Kristin Conley
Born: Jan. 18, 1981, Topeka.
Occupation: Owner and cook at Grandpa’s Burger Box.
Family: Husband, Chad; two daughters, Anna Edmonds, 13, and Samantha Edmonds, 8; parents, Harold Jr. and Bonna Cromwell; and three brothers, James Cromwell, Jason Cromwell and Jerry Cromwell,
Dream job as a child: Conley always had culinary aspirations.
“I wanted to do exactly what my grandpa did in Topeka,” Conley explained. “Stand behind the grill and be head cook in the kitchen.”
Interesting fact: Kristin and Chad were married on Valentine’s Day.
Digging deeper: Conley grew up in Topeka, where she played volleyball and the flute in high school. A 1999 graduate of Topeka High School, she then dated her brother’s friend, who lived in Tonganoxie. They married and later divorced.
Conley is happy she stayed in Tonganoxie, as she later met Chad.
The restaurant business has been an integral part of Conley’s life.
Her grandfather’s restaurant, Harold’s Prize Package, has operated in Topeka for years. Her aunt now runs that business.
“She’s done a fine job of keeping it going in honor of my grandpa,” Conley said. “It’s where we all got our start.”
Conley started working for Jesse Smith, who operated Lil ‘Mom and Pop Shop in downtown Tonganoxie at the time, when she was 20. She also worked for him at Grandpa’s Burger Box.
Smith died in 2012 after a battle with cancer. Conley wanted to carry on Smith’s legacy and took over the business later that year.
She said the Fatboy with cheese is a popular menu item and has added seasoned curly fries to the restaurant’s offerings.
The restaurant can be found adorned with a mural along U.S. Highway 24-40 just north of Casey’s.
Grandpa’s Burger Box also was said to have one of the top 11 burgers in the state, per a food blogger’s list.
“I feel honored,” Conley said. “It was a complete shock to us.”
Conley said she enjoys getting to know her customers and making her food with “love and care.”
She noted Jessi Bayliff has been a loyal employee since she took over the business, and Susan Freemyer has been instrumental with helping expand the business through social media.