Cherokee County: where casinos are allowed but a glass of wine is not

Two and a half hours due south of Kansas City sits Baxter Springs, Kansas (pop. 4,221), the largest city in Cherokee County. There, Richard and Amy Sanell run a bed and breakfast and a restaurant called Cafe on the Route. (1101 Military Avenue, 620-856-5646.) 

Former residents of Kansas City (Richard was a chef at the Metropolis American Grille in Westport), the couple was looking to open a bed and breakfast somewhere in the general area of the Midwest. “We looked at places in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa before coming down to Baxter Springs and falling in love with the building,” Richard said. “I thought I did all my homework but I didn’t.”

Shortly after they opened 11 years ago they learned they couldn’t sell wine with dinners. Or beer or any other alcoholic spirit. Cherokee County is a dry county. It only allows the sale of alcohol by the glass at private clubs. Club membership costs $10 and has a waiting period of 10 days. Not a convenient solution when tourists are up from one of the nearby tribal casinos and just want a quick bite to eat.

So after 11 years of “waiting for someone else to challenge the law” the Sanells finally stepped up and took action.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink