By D’Ann Dreiling
Comfort food at its best is now a part of the Waldo restaurant scene.
Located in the old KFC building at 420 West 85th Street, Strips Chicken offers a new concept in food preparation: fresh.
“We don’t use pre prepared frozen food from wholesalers,” says owner Todd Johnson. “Our chicken and pork are freshly prepared on site.” Johnson uses the breast of the chicken, cut to a perfect size, dipped in seasoned batter, breaded with pretzel crumbs and fried “to perfection” for exactly 2 minutes and 10 seconds, he says.
You won’t find hamburgers at Strip’s. But you will find pork burgers that Johnson claims people drive for miles to enjoy. “The lean pork is ground with a small amount of lean chicken to keep the burger moist,” he shares. The charbroiled burgers are made to order and served with an array of special sauces and toppings. Every dinner includes sides and a hot fresh baby donut.
Johnson was born and raised on a farm near Erie, Kansas. His grandmother owned the diner in town where he hung out as a kid. “Fresh food was the only option in the country,” says Johnson. “Bar food and fast food served in restaurants today is hardly palatable when you know the difference.”
A graduate of K-State University, Johnson moved to Chunute, Kansas. He bought an old historic hotel, renovated it and opened a fine dining restaurant, a breakfast spot and a microbrewery in the basement.
“I knew a lot about food, but I wasn’t prepared for the challenges of operating a business in a building built in 1929,” he said.
Johnson sold the building and began a new career as a restaurant consultant. He traveled around the country advising restaurateurs on improvements to their businesses and menus. He appeared on television as a consultant to Lisa Vanderpump in the Real Housewives series, Vanderpump Rules. His move to Kansas City was not intended to be long term but he fell in love with the city and saw the opportunities here. He opened his first Strips Chicken in Olathe in 2016 and was ecstatic to find a new location in Waldo.
Besides a variety of chicken and pork entrees, Strips boasts of it’s amazing sauces (perfected by Johnson himself), 14 side dishes, gluten free and keto options and crispy portobello strips for the vegans. Pre-order, drive through, and Covid correct indoor seating are all available. Strip’s is open 10:30 am to 9 pm Monday thru Saturday. Check out their website for a complete menu at stripschicken.com.