Rosebud’s Bar in Junction City opened its doors to everyone this Thanksgiving during their third annual “Thanksgiving Potluck Meal” Thursday.
Ashten Barstow and Lorraine Lee, her mother, opened Rosebud’s two and a half years ago. The bar is located at 215 E. 8th St., only two miles from the Trooper Gate to Fort Riley. Barstow was bartending and managing other local bars before she opened Rosebud’s with Lee. Their husbands and Barstow herself are all military veterans.
Many patrons of Rosebud’s are veterans and active service members, Barstow said. Rosebud’s is a family business, and the potluck meal is an example of that.
“Our friends and family that come in, they’re all in the military too, whether they are retired or they are still in,” she said. “We just decided to do a potluck here (for Thanksgiving). It is an easier cleanup for us.”
Holidays can be a particularly tough time for soldiers when they are away from home and unable to travel, so Rosebud’s “Potluck Meal” gives them a place to celebrate with others, Barstow explained. For the event this year and in the past, she reached out to Facebook pages that support local food options to advertise the meal to soldiers who would spend their Thanksgiving locally.
“We’re hoping (soldiers)... will know that we’re here, at least, and they can come in,” she said.
Though it is a bar, Barstow said there is plenty of fun for children, and the potluck meal is a family-friendly event.
“All my kids are here, and my sister’s kids come,” she said at the event. “We do coloring, we set up projectors for Mario Kart and we have Rock Band going so they can play games all day.”
Children played with toys, goodie bags and watched Disney’s “Moana,” while attendees enjoyed a plate or two of home-cooked food. There was plenty of food to go around.
“We do like four turkeys and two hams, and then we have people bring in gumbo and stuff and we just basically eat all day,” Barstow said.
The meal is annual since the bar opened and is not their only community outreach event. Their events have included concerts to raise donations for the Food Bank and a silent auction around Christmas.
“We do a lot of community work out of this bar... whether it be for the food bank or Children’s Mercy,” Barstow explained. “There are a lot of good organizations that come through.”
The line between family and customer is difficult to find at Rosebud’s, as Barstow describes it as a place where people “break bread” and enjoy fellowship. They further their embrace of local people and community with their annual Thanksgiving meal.
“We’re an everybody bar,” she said. “We pride ourselves on that everybody’s got a home (here).”