Wendell

Brigitte Wendell prepares meals for local and visiting customers at her cafe in Woodbine, Brigitte’s Country Cafe. Having originally come over from Germany after meeting an American soldier after WWII, she has lived in Kansas ever since.

Nothing contains more power than a local dining spot, which becomes home to families of random people coming together for gossip over hot coffee and jokes over homemade meals. In Woodbine, people step into Brigitte’s Country Cafe and are immediately hit with the feeling of good humor and home. 

The creator behind the feeling, Brigitte Wendell, a German immigrant and local grandmother to everyone, makes sure everyone finishes their plate of food. 

Raised in the hills and small town energy of Coburg, Germany, a small town located in the Bavaria state of Germany hidden in the mountains. 

In her life, Wendell found herself falling for American men again and again, until one finally convinced her to marry him and live in his home of Kansas. 

“I come from Germany and driving down the road here,” Wendell said. “We saw a geese, the mother goose with baby gooses walking down the street. I thought ‘where the hell am I?’

Even with the cultural shock, new language and no close relations in Woodbine, Wendell found herself preserving the challenges with a side of good humor through it all. 

“I always said I’m never gonna go to America and my husband came I came here,” Wendell said. “I did not speak one word of English.”

The first word Wendell learned to speak in English came from the cuss word family and is now only spoken under hushed breath.

“For some reason, the cuss words is always easy to learn,” Wendell said.  

Even with seven German women living in Woodbine, Wendell can still remember they didn’t speak to each other in German or English. 

“This is a little German town and we used to have seven German ladies living here,” Wendell said. “Nobody talked to each other.”

For a while after moving to the small town, Wendell would clean houses for cash and soon started helping out in her friend’s cafe - the one she would later own - with the cooking. 

At the time, the building was half a cafe and half an auto body shop, which Wendell can still remember her friend’s husband coming into the cafe covered in oil. 

Now the cafe serves its main purpose of being a place of gathering and feasting with the old garage being used as a party room. Wendell added some of her own German twists with a wall of beer steins, community tables and a Wednesday/Saturday schnitzel special. 

“First of all, we don’t deep fry it in the deep fryer, instead we lay it on the grill,” Wendell said. “You get the pork loin, knock the s---- out of it with a meat cleaver, salt, pepper, paprika, egg wash and breadcrumbs.”

The trusty meat cleaver also makes an appearance outside of the kitchen, when Wendell walks around talking to customers and reminding them to finish what is on their plates. To the point, Wendell’s customers stopped by the table during the interview to tell their favorite stories of her. 

Through the interview and schnitzel lunch rush, Wendell made sure to joke and speak with every customer that enters her cafe. 

Through her humorous actions and warm food, Wendell makes sure everyone feels a sense of home and community when they walk into her cafe. 

“Woodbine deserves to have a place to eat,” Wendell said. 

 

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