Kanalihoppers Restaurant and Spirits, a new restaurant which just opened up in the building that used to house Mulligan’s Restaurant right next to the Kimball Golf Course, is already setting off discussions around town with everybody wondering what exactly the name comes from.
According to owner Donna Thompson, the name stems from a story from her childhood involving her grandfather.
“My family is Irish. When I was a little girl, my grandpa would come into the house and say, ‘Oh gosh, my kanalihopper is killing me.’ I was about six years old, and I asked him, ‘Grandpa, what’s a kanalihopper?’ He said, ‘Well lass, you know the chicken and dark meat you like? You know the steaks and the roast that you like? Where’s it come from?’ And I said, ‘the butt’. He said, ‘Exactly, me achin’ arse’,” Thompson said.
However, according to Thompson, the name has a much bigger meaning than her grandfather’s explanation gives.
“A kanalihopper was actually a pastry vendor before we had hot dog vendors in New York City around Central Park. They actually sold hot meat cakes and sweet cakes out of a little box they carried, and they were called kanalihoppers. When I was a little girl, I would pretend to be a kanalihopper so that’s where I got the name,” Thompson said.
It is Thompson’s intention for the restaurant which is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to offer customers fresh, authentic food made however the customer desires.
“We don’t buy frozen food. If you order onion rings, their batter is our batter. If you order a steak, we pull the loin out and cut it when you order it. When you get a full loin in, we age it an additional seven days so that I can actually cut it and bring it out and show it to you and ask if you like it and if you don’t like, I’ll go cut you another one until you get what you’re paying for,” Thompson said.
Along with serving the more traditional dishes that people are used to, the restaurant will also offer signature dishes and desserts throughout the week.
“I want you to come here and say, ‘I’ve never had that before. That’s really good’ or ‘I can’t find this anywhere else’. We’ve made a signature dessert we’re going to start on the new menu. It’s going to be a hot caramel apple sunday with a piece of apple sauce cake, good ice cream, fried apples, home-made caramel sauce and whip cream with chopped walnuts. Nobody else does it, but we do it,” Thompson said.
Thompson plans to not only offer residents a place to go to enjoy a good meal but also a place to find good entertainment.
“Once I get the menu set up, I want to start doing cultural events, benefits, and parties. I have a great ballroom. I’d like to get entertainers. What Coyote Ugly did for bars, we’re going to do for hospitality. We’re going to make this a place you want to go to, not only with your family but as an entertainment venue,” Thompson said.
These plans include not only having musical entertainment in the ballroom and potentially holding art shows in the building but also playing movies on the weekends in the winter.
“We’ll have dinner and a movie on the weekends. During the 4 to 6 hours, you can sit down, I’ll buy a pay-per-view movie, and you can have a good meal with your family and enjoy the show. From 7 to 11, it’ll be more of a rated R, more of an adult entertainment so that you have a place to go and have a good meal and relax. That’s my intention,” Thompson said.
For Thompson, it all boils down to what the people of Kimball want.
“I’m kind of letting Kimball decide what it likes so then on the weekends or for parties the gloves come off and you tell me what you want, and I’ll guarantee that we can make it. My chef went to culinary school. I started cooking when I was six. He knows a lot of new sauces and techniques, and I know a lot of the old school stuff so together we make quite a combination.,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s love of food was instilled in her at a very early age with all the different cultural foods she was exposed to growing up in Buffalo, New York. It is her intention to bring that diversity to the Kimball restaurant scene.
“If I can offer the public something, a different experience like what I experienced when I was growing up of different foods and different cultures. Why not? We’re good for it, we deserve it and it’s about time we had it,” Thompson said.