Dinner Underground with Pretty Boy Floyd in Ellsworth, Kansas

It felt kind of racy, like we were doing something just a little dangerous, maybe even illegal, as we walked down a semi-dark alley in search of a place called Pretty Boy Floyd’s.

And that was part of the fun.

Pretty Boy Floyd’s is not what you would expect of a restaurant in Ellsworth, Kansas, a little bump in the prairie that is home to 3,000 people. These are folks who don’t put up with a lot of nonsense and silliness. They’re hard-working folk who, at the end of the day, want a good meal in return for getting the job done.

But to get a good meal at Pretty Boy Floyd’s, you just have to have a little fun. For anyone driving along I-70 or otherwise exploring the back roads of Kansas, take exit 219 South, to get in on the fun.

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Remembering Pretty Boy Floyd

For anyone who doesn’t remember, Charles Arthur Floyd was a notorious bank robber in 1930s who conducted much of his business in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma. There’s no proof that Pretty Boy was ever in Ellsworth, but there’s also a pretty good chance he might have been.

He is not the reason that tunnels connected underground rooms beneath the streets of Ellsworth, but we can assume they were built for activities that one wouldn’t necessarily share in Sunday school classes. These were men’s only rooms where alcohol, gambling and other endeavors that, at the turn of the 20th century, were often kept underground.

Speak Easy Underground Restaurant in Kansas

Fast forward 100 years to Mark and Josie Roehrman and their dream of opening a steakhouse in Ellsworth. Since Ellsworth is in the midst of cattle country, just another steakhouse would be just that — just another steakhouse.

So they started digging around under a couple of buildings to create this speak-easy-style restaurant six feet under. This was truly a space where “gentlemen” cavorted back in the day, slipping from one building to the next in underground Ellsworth without anyone knowing the wiser.


Don’t get me wrong – the food is great!  We love a good chicken fried steak with real mashed potatoes and real gravy and we were not disappointed.

But we were a bit distracted. There’s money flowing out of spittoons and on beat up suitcases. Tommy Guns on the wall give you pause, but not as much as the fishing boat and concrete boots. And you have to check out the restrooms! Flappers all over the women’s restroom gave me pause about the jeans and T-shirt I was wearing.

This was the era of Pretty Boy Floyd and the original speakeasys. It was all about illegal drinking during Prohibition and the crime rings that made alcohol available.

Speakeasys are trendy again in cities across the U.S., but it’s just not the same when alcohol is legal.

 

The bar is well stocked to serve interests of the 21st century, but if you’re totally into the speak-easy theme, enjoy a Moonshine Martini, their best seller.

Unfortunately, Pretty Boy Floyd’s is open only in the evenings, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And you might want to call to tell them you’re coming, because if it’s a slow night, they might close a little early.  (785-472-2183)

That’s just the way things roll underground, here in Ellsworth Kansas.