DOUGLASS, Kan. (KSNW) — It’s an all too common occurrence in small Kansas towns; grocery stores and restaurants closing, leaving residents with few or no options other than driving to a bigger town to purchase fresh produce or to buy a meal.

Douglass is one of those towns, but a new burger joint is up and running and thriving.

There was a time when Douglass had lots of places to eat. But like so many rural Kansas towns, most of those establishments have disappeared. Just as restaurants were closing, a new place opened. Now, Betty’s is the place to be.

Dining options in Douglass have dried up in recent years.

“There was a little cafe called The Triangle. It had been here for many, many years, and they shut down a little bit after we opened up,” said Betty’s co-owner Terry Gulick. “And there was a Pizza Hut, and they went out after we opened this up.”

“The Triangle was great, and Craig’s was great, but when they closed down, they really did need somewhere to go,” said Betty’s co-owner Kathy Gibson.

So, the Douglass natives, along with Kathy’s husband, Kirby, stepped up. They purchased the old, non-descript, red-bricked Craig’s building and went to work.

“We wanted to bring something to town and get something the town could be proud of. Kind of have a destination place for people to come and enjoy themselves,” said Gulick, who did most of the demolition of Craig’s and the new construction on Betty’s.

“We’ve lived in Douglass all our lives. And we know we’re probably going to be in Douglass, and we just wanted to bring something to this town that everyone could be proud of and bring the community together and have something that they could enjoy,” explained Kathy.

After three years of planning and work, they did it almost entirely on their own. The Gibsons and Gulick opened Betty’s (named after Kathy’s mother) last September. The citizens of Douglass couldn’t wait for it to open.

“Yes, the community has been great. They support us. They come. We have our regulars here that come in. And then we have the people in the surrounding towns come around, and they are great, too,” said Kathy.

A quick look at Betty’s guest book shows guests from Winfield to Augusta, Rose Hill to Pittsburg, and as far away as Great Bend, Abilene and out of state.

“I’m from Wichita, and I’ve seen Betty’s on Facebook and followed her for a while. And one of my children lives in Augusta. So, I know they’ve come down here several times,” said Susie Kilgrow of Wichita.

Laura Sullivan from Pennsylvania traveled with a group of friends from Pittsburg, Kansas and drove two and a half hours to eat lunch at Betty’s.

“Made by hand. Made to order. What’s not to love about that? Fresh ingredients, and I mean, the line’s out the door. It’s been out the door the whole time we’ve been here. So, you can tell everyone’s coming from all around to eat at this place,” said Sullivan.

Nikki Armstrong and her husband came down from Rose Hill. They make it a point to support local small businesses.

“The Black Knight Burger is very delicious. I had that for the first time. My husband always goes for the BLT. The curly fries are great. You really can’t go wrong with ordering anything,” said Armstrong.

The Black Knight Burger gets its name from the antique bicycle hanging on the stone wall when you enter Betty’s. There’s also an ice shack out front that does quite a bit of business all on its own. And when Kathy rings a bell, everybody who hears it gets free homemade ice cream.

“We’re just trying to build our community back up. Kind of give people a reason to come to Douglass,” said Kathy.

Another guest drove his wife and grandchildren in from Augusta to buy ice cream.

“Kathy and Kirby are wonderful people. They did an outstanding job on the building. It’s super clean. Good food. Good personalities. If you haven’t been here, please come to Douglass, Kansas and try it,” said Kelly Modlin.

In addition to its tasty cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches, Betty’s also offers homemade ice cream, shakes and pies. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Betty’s was the only restaurant in town for a while after the Pizza Hut closed, that is until a food truck called Sweet Thangz decided to open up a restaurant in the old nursing home in late April. You can find a variety of desserts and savory foods at Sweet Thangz located at 619 S. U.S. Highway 77 on the west side of the building.