JRI Hospitality, which operates four restaurant brands throughout the country, has purchased the historic Mr. K’s Farmhouse in Abilene and will take over operations in early June.
The purchase is a departure from the company’s four current brands, but with JRI being based in Salina, its leadership welcomed the opportunity to take over operations of the local landmark. Founded in 2011, JRI Hospitality owns and operates over 70 restaurants, including Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Mokas Cafe, The Original Grande, and Chompie’s Restaurants. JRI is projected to expand its reach with 20 projects per year in the next few years, with the goal of ensuring everyone in the United States can enjoy its line of brands. Mr. K’s Farmhouse has a colorful history. It was purchased and opened on Friday the 13th in 1939 by a woman named Lena, who operated the restaurant until she retired in 1974 and personally fed each guest — including former president Dwight Eisenhower. After a 20-year hiatus, the property was purchased by Ed and June Kuntz, longtime restaurateurs in Abilene. The two-story farmhouse is an iconic local structure located at 407 S. Van Buren Street. Jason Ingermanson, founder and CEO of JRI Hospitality, said the company is proud to carry on the tradition of Mr. K’s Farmhouse and looks forward to being a part of history. “When we had the opportunity to purchase this historic property and restaurant, we couldn’t pass it up,” Ingermanson said in a release. “Mr. K’s Farmhouse is a local institution and we wanted it to stay in local hands while bringing our extensive expertise in restaurant management to the table. We’re confident the restaurant will have a bright future and continue to be a part of the Abilene community.”