Wichita church hopes fans missed chicken noodle dinner enough last year to try new format

·2 min read

The organizers of the long-running Chicken Noodle Dinner at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1356 N. Broadway, had just gotten the kitchen cleaned up and the church put back together after their 2020 dinner when COVID-19 effectively shut the city down.

Then, last year, they decided to skip the dinner — an annual event that usually draws about 2,400 people — for safety’s sake as the pandemic continued.

This year, they’re splitting the difference.

The dinner, which will be the church’s 75th, will return from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, but this year, meals will be served only to drive-through customers.

“It’s the first time ever doing it this way,” said Rob Scott, a dinner organizer. “We’ll probably have a few hiccups about the first hour, but after that, we’ll get the kinks knocked out and get people in and out.”

Usually, church members would invite people to dine inside the building, where members have been busy making homemade noodles and cutting, cooking and deboning 1.000 pounds of poultry.

This year, though, people will stay in their cars to place orders for their meals, which include a big serving of homemade chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh-cut coleslaw and dessert.

Volunteers make all the egg noodles from scratch for the annual St. Paul’s United Methodist Church Chicken Noodle Dinner.
Volunteers make all the egg noodles from scratch for the annual St. Paul’s United Methodist Church Chicken Noodle Dinner.

Scott said that customers should enter the church parking lot off of Topeka, which is east of the church. They’ll see signs directing them where to go to place their orders. When they do, they’ll be asked to choose from six desserts: chocolate cake, white cake, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip pie, apple cobbler or cookies. They can pay on the spot with cash, check or credit card or get tickets in advance by calling the church office at 316-267-3263. Tickets are $10 apiece, and a la carte items also will be available.

The dinner is the church’s biggest fundraiser, and missing a year hurt, Scott said. Though the church was shut down for some time, which naturally cut expenses, it’s now trying to pay for renovations and a new heating and air system.

“We need this fundraising dinner to help offset that,” Scott said.

Preparing the dinner is a huge undertaking for the church, he said. Members work late into the night and get up before the sun to prepare the dinner’s various components, and this year, they’ll use 3,240 eggs and 800 pounds of flour. They’ll prepare 30 gallons of gravy and 800 pounds of coleslaw and mash more potatoes than Scott has had time to tally.

The members hope people have missed the dinner enough to patronize it in its new format.

“All I can say for people coming is have a little patience with us because we’re trying something new,” he said.

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