“We’re the best-known secret in Sherman County,” Manager Carlotta McDermott said of Butterfly Cafe, 602 Renner Field Road. As one of the few Kansas airport terminal restaurants away from metropolitan areas, small planes and helicopters often stop at Renner Field to fuel up both airplane and people.
“Our food is all homemade,” she said, “family style and not from a box.” The smiling airplane at the cash register stand says what eating at Butterfly Cafe is all about. It’s “a bright, friendly place to eat. It’s so interesting to see the planes come and go and see who will come in next.”
And the locals love the Butterfly. In a 2013 Goodland Star-News poll, Butterfly Cafe was named Goodland’s “Best Place to Eat Breakfast” and McDermott was named honorable mention Best Waitress. Try the pecan rolls, but you’d better be hungry. They’re huge!
Besides the delicious breakfasts, specialties of the house include chicken-fried steak, the Friday special; pies and strawberry rhubarb jam. The strawberry rhubarb pie is a piece of Heaven. All the rhubarb is grown locally and is never frozen. McDermott’s husband John makes the jam from his late mother-in-law Dolores Corke’s recipe. “He helped Mother make the jam,” McDermott said, “and he gets the right consistency.”
Corke’s pies were legendary, so much so that she was once featured in Country Woman Magazine. The restaurant continues to make its own pies. McDermott makes the cream pies and Owner Marilyn Collett makes the fruit pies. “One time a couple from Mississippi came in,” McDermott recalled. “They had heard about Butterfly’s pies from someone. We had one come straight out of the oven and they took the whole pie!”
Corke took over Butterfly’s management in 1991 and McDermott was a part-time waitress then. McDermott succeeded her mother as manager upon Corke’s death in 2008. The cooks came to the restaurant with the Corke family, so they are very familiar with the recipes. “That’s part of our good quality of food,” McDermott said. “Our cooks know our recipes. We’re not having to train people.”
As befitting an airport restaurant, the cafe’s decor is aviation themed. Model airplanes hang from the ceiling and photos of vintage planes hang on the walls.
Open Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Mountain Time. From the terminal’s front door, turn left and the cafe is at end of hall. If flying into Renner Field, call Unicom frequency 122.95. Restaurant is on the north side of the terminal. A door opens onto the tarmac.
To take home an entire pie, call 785-890-2085 or email several hours ahead. Butterfly also caters. Check out their website to see the weekly specials menu.
Immediately opposite the terminal’s front door is a model of America’s First Patented Helicopter. A working replica of the helicopter may be seen at the High Plains Museum. A display honoring Dr. Marion J. Renner, The Flying Doctor, for whom the airport is named, is in the waiting room outside the restaurant. Also see the historic hangar that escaped destruction near the entrance to the terminal parking lot.