First Friday dinners at the Lunchroom Cafe are a hit with the locals around Iuka

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Iuka-area residents enjoy a First Friday dinner at the Lunchroom Cafe and Coffee restaurant on March 5, joined by a well-spaced crowd that broke previous records for attendance with 54 orders for take-out or in-person dining in Iuka.

Every first Friday of the month, Luke and Caitlin Laha prepare dinner for special customers, never quite knowing if it wil be a successful event or not. On March 5, First Friday at the Lunchroom Café & Coffee, 404 West Summer Avenue in Iuka,  topped its own chart in popularity with 54 meals served for as take-out or in-person dining.

“We had the biggest crowd yet,” said Luke Laha who with wife opened the eatery in November 2018  in conjunction with their Old School Outfitters hunting guide service.

The café is housed in the remodeled former Iuka Elementary School building just east of  Highway 281, which also serves as lodging for hunting parties from November through January, providing sleeping accommodations for up to 50 guests.

Luke said he and Caitlin decided to create The Lunchroom Café & Coffee First Friday event to serve up meals not included as day-to-day menu items.

Menu for the Lunchroom Café  & Coffee March First Friday event was chicken-fried steak, served with twice-baked potatoes, green beans and dinner salad, with home-made cherry cheesecake for dessert.

“It was really great to see everyone who came in to eat or pick up meals-to-go,” Laha said.

The  couple does both the cooking and the serving.

“It’s just us,” Caitlin said. “We don’t have anybody else.”

In keeping with current COVID-19 guideline, tables in the café’s dining room  are spaced to allow for social distancing between dining groups and Luke said other COVID safety measures are also in place.

First Friday dinners, for which reservations are required, are just one feature of the Lahas Lunchroom Café.

Specialty drinks are another, ranging from Ice Carmel Lattes served in mason-jar style mugs to Java Chip Frappe, topped with chocolate curls. A full-service menu is available for breakfast and lunch, including burgers, wraps and sides.

The Lahas promote their restaurant business through their Facebook page.

“What a great evening and meal! Thanks for your hard work Caitlin Laha and Luke Laha,” Facebook friend Marsha Giggy of Pratt posted last week.

Currently, the Lahas are offering their 1,800-plus Facebook followers opportunity to receive a $5 off coupon code when they sign up to stay connected.

“New followers are always welcome,” Caitlin said.

Lunchroom Café & Coffee regular buiness hours are 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The business is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Opening the Lunchroom Café’ & Coffee almost two and one-half years ago was a new veture for the Lahas.

Luke started his college career at Pratt Community College, then led the Pratt Community College Wildlife Outfitting and Operations program for two years after graduating from Fort Hays State University in May 2012 with a degree in wildlife biology. He now owns and operates his own hunting and guiding business based in Iuka, Old School Outfitters. 

Caitlin holds a Youth Ministry degree from Barclay College in Haviland where she graduated in May 2016. She was part of the Youth Core Ministries Leadership team for many years in Pratt and Greensburg before taking on running the Lunchroom Cafe’ and Coffee full time just over two years ago.

The Lunchroom Café & Coffee First Friday April 2 event is in the planning stages with menu to be posted on Facebook when it has been finalized.

“It’ll be good,” Caitlin said.