CULT FOOD - THE PAD
By TRICIA PETERSON
It’s easily identifiable by the rocket ship sign out front—a sign that the original owner placed there. In 1961, the space program and NASA became popular, so the first owner thought that the space-themed sign would get people to come through the doors. The sign worked, but it was the food that kept them coming back.
Troy Mentzer’s father opened The Pad more than 50 years ago, and now, Troy runs it with his family. Mentzer says the only thing that’s changed over the years is expanded seating in the dining area and the addition of a salad bar. Even the cooks in the back have worked there for 15 years or more, so they know how to make the food “The Pad way.”
Mentzer loves Topeka and feels like it’s the people who have kept The Pad alive and running all these years. He says that if he keeps his customers happy, they keep coming back.
“We are in the community and we give them good service. We truly love Topeka and this community,” Mentzer said. “Topeka is really loyal, but above all, if your food isn’t any good, they aren’t going to come back.”
Joe Myer, a Topeka native, says The Pad was one of his favorite hangouts during his high school years. He says he has sworn by the food since he was a teenager and now it is just what he does, no questions asked.
“Back in the 70s, everybody at Seaman High School went to The Pad. That’s where you’d go, even though there was a Burger King nearby. You didn’t go there because you couldn’t sit in your car,” Myer said. “That’s back when there wasn’t any indoor seating at all.”
Myer remembers ordering curly fries and breaded pork tender sandwiches and hanging out after school or before parties on weekends. He said that a lot of the Seaman kids would work at The Pad. It was just the place to be, whether you were working or just hanging out with friends.
“I still go get the pork tenders and onion rings,” Myer said. “A lot of times you don’t make a plan to go, you just end up there.”