• Last modified 449 days ago (March 2, 2023)


Family to establish eatery in Florence

Cook from Strong City’s Ad Astra hired

Staff writer

The Mills family, already operating two businesses in Florence, soon will be offering customers a place to eat.

And the cook will come from Strong City’s critically praised Ad Astra restaurant, which recently closed.

The new restaurant, the Brandin’ Iron, will be kitty-corner from Prairie Oaks Designs and Doyle Creek Boutique.

Randy and Judy Mills, daughter Sara Dawson and husband Troy, the Dawsons’ daughter, Grace, and her husband Jesse Unruh are working to establish a “brunch to lunch” restaurant in the historic opera house in downtown Florence.

The Brandin’ Iron will be open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or so Tuesday through Saturday.

It will offer breakfast favorites such as cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy, and bacon and eggs along with appetizers, lunch meals, and chef’s specials.

“We had always wanted a restaurant to sell our beef,” Sara said. “So, when Flint Hills Market and Bakery closed Jan. 1, we saw the opportunity, and things fell into place.”

The meat will come from the family’s Doyle Creek Land and Cattle Co.

Brandon Lyman of Emporia, former cook at Ad Astra in Strong City, has been hired as cook.

The Dawsons had asked him to make the meal for Grace’s wedding in November. When they offered him the job at the Florence restaurant, he accepted.

Sara said he shares their passion and vision and will work well as a team player. She is hoping his hiring will draw former Ad Astra customers to Florence.

As part of a pasture-to-plate concept, the owners are hoping to access local providers of fresh food. Crust and Crumb in Newton has been recruited to provide some breads.

The restaurant will be open one night a week at first. It also will be available for events.

Interior decorating will include historic photos of Florence. A liquor license is pending. A March 17 opening is anticipated.

“We hope Marion County will support us,” Sara said. “A lot of people come from cities all around and even from out of state to shop at our stores, so this will give them a place to eat.”

Last modified March 2, 2023