By Managing Editor Courtney Klaus
Assignments. Drama. Sleep Deprivation.
When the school week ends, my family and I seek sweet salvation from life’s stresses in the form of a good ol’ hearty breakfast for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants: Village Inn.
Now, I’m just a small-town girl from a little bump in the road people call “Mulvane, Kansas,” so no, I did not grow up with the urban dumpster fire that is IHOP. We didn’t have that. No, where I lived, Village Inn was THE place to eat breakfast for dinner. And it was the quintessential Klaus family Saturday evening stop.
Village Inn was a family favorite for a couple of reasons: One, my brother is one of the pickiest people on the planet and this is one of the few places he actually eats. Two, they served the BEST Coca-Cola in Derby, Kansas. I don’t know what kind of witchcraft they must have performed on their soda-fountain, but the pop there was always the perfect blend of fizz, syrup and heaven. Three, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?
But sadly, all good things must come to an end. It is with profound sorrow that I must confess that last week my family visited the old reliable Village Inn for what may have been the final time.
They must be closing, right? No. It’s much worse.
We walked in and sat in our sticky booth. We didn’t even need menus anymore—this wasn’t our first rodeo.
“What’ll you have to drink?” the waiter asked.
“Diet Coke,” my dad said.
“Will Diet Pepsi be okay?”
“NOOOOO!” my dad cried as he slapped the table with his hand.
My brother and I were stunned silent.
The poor waiter probably felt like he was reporting a death. He tried to recover, seeking to console us in the worst possible way.
“It’s okay…It’s actually good news. We serve Dr. Pepper now!”
Why would that be good news? Is everyone constipated?
We sat there staring at the table. An emptiness swelled in my belly—the hole that only Coke’s saccharine acid could fill. We all settled for waters.
“This is terrible,” my dad whispered. “They might as well pack it in. They’re finished. We’re going to have to find somewhere else to eat.”
We feigned normalcy throughout the rest of the meal, tipped the waiter handsomely for dealing with our drama, and left.
It may seem like we were overreacting—and okay, we definitely were—but let me just paint a picture of how dedicated my family is to Coca-Cola.
Once upon a time, my grandfather, the hardworking Eugene Klaus, worked in a bottling factory for Coca-Cola. A chilled bottle of Coke was the fruit of his labors, so naturally my family developed a loyalty to the brand.
Today my family has a whole bathroom adorned in Coca-Cola paraphernalia. The towels are Coke, the soap dish is Coke, the shower curtain is Coke, and even the wallpaper is Coke.
But it’s not just our history with Coca-Cola that draws us to it. It’s simply an undeniable fact that Coca-Cola is superior to Pepsi. Coca-Cola packs a punch that Pepsi does not. Its taste is tangier, sharper, and fizzier. Its quality endures.
You can open a can of Coca-Cola, put it in a fridge for 24 hours, pull it out, and it still tastes the same.
Pepsi goes flat within the amount of time it takes to make its journey through a bendy straw.
I go through the whole week plagued by this Pepsi campus. When the weekend arrives, I crave nothing more than a sip of the liquid gold that is Coca-Cola. Freedom.
Last weekend, Village Inn deprived us of that opportunity.
Village Inn, we have always been devoted customers. When breakfast for dinner seemed to go out of style and the only other patrons you had left were over 80 years old, we stuck around. When that IHOP opened down the street last year, we stayed loyal. We’ve probably thrown hundreds of dollars your way on soft-drinks alone throughout the years.
But Village Inn, I don’t know if we can come back from this one. Village Inn, I’m sorry to say, our loyalty to you doesn’t hold a candle to our loyalty to the supreme soda.
This is my goodbye letter Village Inn. It was fun while it lasted.
This story first appeared in the February 22, 2018 issue of The Vantage.