OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A new Stroud's is opening up in Overland Park, and Tuesday night to kick off a new era in the Stroud's fried chicken business, the restaurant's number one fan was there to test out the menu at the new location.
The work that goes into making Stroud's pan-fried chicken is time-consuming, even labor intensive. All that work isn't lost on Paul Sepe who drives about 1,400 miles from New Hampshire just to get his usual meal.
"I have the three breast dinner, with cottage fries and a salad with blue cheese crumble dressing," Sepe told the server in the new Stroud's on 135th Street.
This pan-fried fanatic made his first strut to Stroud's in 1993 while on his way to a business meeting in Colorado.
"I used to eat fried chicken now and then, but since I started eating fried chicken at Stroud's, I don't eat anywhere but here," said Sepe.
Sepe is a self-described foodie, who makes other stops as he drives around the country in his VW GTI with 900,000 miles on it. He always stops at Stroud's on his way to Colorado and every Easter. His favorite Stroud's was the original at 85th and Troost, which is no longer open, but he still has a piece of the wooden floor.
So what is it that's so special about the chicken at Stroud's?
"It's hard to describe isn't it? I never tried to describe what makes it so good before," said Sepe.
His friends and family even come to Kansas City to see what the fuss is about.
"I like to show them around KC. It's a great city I really enjoy, besides being at Stroud's, there's a lot to do here," Sepe said.
And because of Sepe, Stroud's has started traveling.
"I brought Mike a picture of a guy in Africa wearing a Stroud's shirt," said Sepe.
In his 60-or-so visits to Stroud's, Sepe has made friends with servers and owner Mike Donegan.
"He had travel stories, and I had food stories," Donegan explained the friendship between the men.
It took awhile before Donegan even found out Sepe was from New Hampshire.
"I said REALLY? And he said, 'yeah, this is my destination restaurant,'" said Donegan.
A destination restaurant that Sepe says is now about much more than the pan-fried flavor that brought him here more than 20 years ago. Sepe said he found out about Stroud's after reading a book called "Road Food." He says other places on his list of must-stops are Runza in Nebraska, DiLorenzo's Pizza in New Jersey, and Cafe du Monde in New Orleans- just to name a few.
Plus, Sepe always drives if his destination is in North America. He says it's his favorite way to see a little bit of everything.