Curtis Crawford has tackled Barry Sanders and thrown a strike past George Brett—accomplishments all the more impressive considering he was never a professional athlete. The tackle happened in a high-school football game against Sanders's Wichita Northwest (Curtis played for Manhattan), and the strike happened when, as an adult, he participated in a Royals fantasy camp (Brett got a hit off the next pitch). Curtis has had a passion for sports his whole life, and even though he never pursued it as a career, it's had a huge influence on his professional path.
Curtis studied hotel and restaurant management at Kansas State, and over the years honed his chops at national institutions such as Applebee's and Taco Bell. But when the Village Restaurant in Newton went up for sale in 1994, he bought it. One of the first things he did was decorate—using, of course, the loads of sports memorabilia he'd collected over the years, including an autographed Joe Montana Chiefs jersey and an entire corner of George Brett relics. And in that spirit of timeless Americana, his menu gathers together everything from hotcakes and biscuits with gravy to chicken-fried steaks and chili cheeseburgers. There's even a burger named after the Newton High School Railers, topped with shredded cheddar, onion rings, barbecue sauce, and notes from girls who think it's cute.
Vibrant hardwoods envelop the lush fairways of Fox Ridge Golf Club's nine-hole course as they stretch across 3,174 yards of scenic, secluded terrain. The horticultural haven encircles a central stream, which comes into play on four holes and houses a sophisticated underwater civilization that uses golf balls as currency. Rounds end in dramatic fashion at the ninth hole—a 498-yard par 5 that doglegs slightly left and contains the widest segment of the intervening river, forcing spiky-shoed adventurers to make cerebral course-management decisions. Head golf pro Mike Riffel guides greenhorns on their path to green jackets with a variety of golf lessons.
At Luigi's Italian Restaurant, candles decorate each table and Italian music drifts through the room. You can steer chunks of fresh bread through olive oil while reading over the menu, which offers plenty of opportunities for twirling a fork or designing a stylish pasta wig. An appetizer of fried mozzarella might lead to a meal of spaghetti carbonara with bacon, eggs, and a white cream sauce. For dessert, Luigi's chefs roll out strawberry cheesecake, tiramisu, and other delicacies.
Lincoln Perk serves its specialty coffee and espresso drinks alongside sandwiches and ice cream from Salted Creamery. All-day breakfast items range from cinnamon rolls and scones to burritos and quiches, and lunch selections include an array of salads, sandwiches, and seasonal soups, all of which guests can enjoy in a dining area decorated with work by local artists.