When “Nu” is Old and Old is Best

February 5, 2009
By

I spent the better part of six hours yesterday behind the wheel of my own PPD (personal planet-destroying device, for you non-environuts, that’s a “car”) going to and from a funeral. The service was for an aunt of my wife’s that I had never met but being the out of fashion traditionalist I am, it was my place to do the driving. Not that my wife couldn’t have driven herself (as she so aptly reminded me time and again as I performed one after another roadway faux pas) it’s just that I’m one of those Neanderthal throwbacks who believes when you have a chance to do something nice for the fairer sex, you do it.

Considering I had never met Aunt Lois, the drive “to” did not fill my mind with memories and melancholy for a dear one now passed. It was occupied with the news feed out of D.C., proper deference to the passenger seat conversation, and the usual balancing act of managing the twenty-nine distinct personalities who use my own gray matter as their own personal playground each day.

About an hour out, two words from the passenger seat phone conversation shoved their way right to the front of the attention line; Nu Way. Ah yes, “Crumbly is Good”. (Yes, I realize that unless you are from Wichita, KS you have no idea what I’m talking about, just keep your pants on, I’ll get around to it.)
While Wichita certainly has it’s well deserved negatives of late, NuWay Cafe is not one of them. Founded on none other than Independence Day, long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away (1930, west Douglas street), NuWay’s have been a Wichita fixture for almost four score now. Their “new” patented, crumbly ground beef mixture combined with an “old” frozen mug of ice free root beer with an order of curly-q’s thrown in is about as Americana as you can get.

As if the food was not enough, I was treated to another treat now long lost on today’s generation; Personal Service. Our waitress could have been a part-time bobby soxer at the original location and the cashier homecoming queen when Elvis was cranking out “Hound Dog”, but they were more “on it” than most of the “plugged in”, glazed eyed zombies who take your order at other joints. Yes, their skin was not as taught as a half century past, but their levity and language immediately took me back to a time that the majority of Americans today only know about from history books or the “when I was your age..” from Grandpa Jones. A time when “fast” food, was “fresh” food, and value was the norm.

After several embarrassing gastric rumblings during the service (Mental note: Do NOT down, two large NuWay’s, fries, onion rings and a large root beer one hour before attending a funeral) and a trip to an earthly heaven (antique mall), I found myself back behind the wheel, sun in the mirror, and life once again rushing on at 70mph.

But, unlike my trip “to”, my trip “from” found my mind occupied by one overriding thought:

In this current climate of crisis and economic doom, wall street amok and D.C. dysfunction, perhaps we could all learn a lesson from that half-hour lunch. There IS value in tradition, there IS profit in service, and there is nothing wrong with not changing just for the sake of change. Don’t believe me? Then how else do you explain how something “nu” is still doing just fine at 79 years young?

Yes my friends, “crumbly is good”.

To see for yourself:

NuWay Home

Review

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