Our Story

Pichler's Chicken Annie's

The Humble Beginnings of Chicken Annie’s.

Frank and Mary Zerngast Pichler, with their children, immigrated to  a settlement named Steppville, Kansas in 1903 from Austria. They moved to Yale Camp #13 in 1906 where they had a saloon and later went into the grocery business.

Joseph Rehak immigrated to a settlement named Ashley, Kansas (south of Chicopee) in 1903 from Bohemia to work in the coal mines. His wife, Maria Anthony Rehak left Austria-Hungary in 1904 with their three children: Marie, Anne and Joe, to join him. Matilda was born in Ashley and Emile was born in Fleming, where the family later moved.

Anne Frances Rehak met Charles Pichler in 1914 when she left home to do housework for the Pichler’s. In the early 1900’s the only work available to young ladies was housework. Anne and Charles were married on April 28, 1917.

They started their married life in a three-room house in Yale, a mining camp called #13, 5 miles north of Pittsburg and 3 1/2 miles east. Charley was a miner and worked in several of the area mines. During this era the mines did not work steadily and normally worked six months out of the year. In order to supplement their income, in January of 1933, Anne and Charley moved with the three children to Ringo, east of Girard to run a filling station as they were called in those days.

Charley was in a mine accident on March 9, 1933 at 24 Western. He was severely injured—one leg was crushed and the other had to be amputated below the knee. It was up to Anne to become the bread winner of the family.At the height of the depression in October, 1933 the family moved back to Yale.

To support the family, Anne started selling ham and veal sandwiches for .15¢ each and home brew, 2 quarts for .25¢ to the town folk. These were prohibition days and many of the foreigners made their own wine, whiskey and home brew. Charley’s Aunt Josephine Bohoruch (Aunt Pape) was a neighbor and sold chicken dinners by appointment. When she ceased, Anne thought this would be a good way to make a living for her family.
Potato Salad and Slaw
Chicken Dinner Image
Anne started serving chicken dinners in a small way in 1934, in addition to offering her sandwiches. In the beginning she raised her own chickens and when her demand was greater than her supply, she would purchase the chickens from neighboring farms. She also raised peppers and pickled them. Her chicken dinners consisted of three pieces of breaded chicken, German potato salad, coleslaw with garlic dressing, strips of pickled peppers and sliced tomatoes and bread… all for .75¢.

All of the preparation of the food was done by hand—the chickens were slaughtered, dressed and breaded. While Anne took care of the purchasing, cooking, finances, etc, Charley did some of the preparation of the food. He was also the bartender and cashier. The potatoes were put in large containers and cooked until done and then were peeled and cut for salad. The coleslaw was also cut by hand. Bread was placed out on a barn roof top for drying and would then be put through a food grinder to make crumbs.

The road leading off the highway to get to Chicken Annie’s was a dirt road…in the winter and during rains, huge ruts formed and made traveling difficult, but it didn’t seem to deter the customers. In fact, many made the remark they enjoyed the drive into the country as it was like coming home, and this was also the only place one could get potatoes served in a different way other than mashed, baked or fried.

The restaurant became known as Chicken Annie’s at the suggestion of Dr. Scott and a man from Parsons, who worked for the telephone company…and Annie’s legacy lives on.