Purple Apple Award winners announced


The Best of Manhattan: Purple Apple Awards winners have been released. The first round of voting, conducted by past and present members of the K-State and Manhattan communities on their favorite places to eat, shop, and be entertained, began Oct. 21. Afterwards, the businesses were narrowed down to the top three finalists in each category for a final round of voting that began Oct. 29 and ended Nov. 8. The seven categories voted on were best burger, best Mexican food, best bar, best salon, best antique or thrift store, best source of entertainment and best clothing boutique. Here are the winners.

Best Burger — So Long Saloon

Located at 1130 Moro St., So Long Saloon has been a staple of the Aggieville Business District for 12 years and has been awarded best burger in the inaugural Best of Manhattan: Purple Apple Awards.

“Obviously we were excited, as anyone would be to get recognition,” Seth Stone, manager of So Long Saloon, said. “It’s great to know that locals [of Manhattan] and students were driving this award. We know they like the good product we put out.”

So Long Saloon’s menu features unique items including the Chipotle Raspberry and Black Bean Dip, which is one of the most well known menu items. Topped with cheese and served with tortilla chips, this item is one of the most unique and most popular.

“People from all over [the nation] come to So Long [Saloon] to eat the Chipotle Raspberry and Black Bean Dip,” Stone said. “People hear about it from reviews on Yelp or other places like that and want to come in and try it. Often people who come from all over the state on game day weekends will come in and try the different foods they’ve seen reviewed online.”

But what makes So Long Saloon unique in Manhattan is its burgers. One of the most common is the Resist Temptation Burger, served with a fried egg, crispy bacon, melted cheese and mayonnaise all inside one bun.

Stone said his favorite burger at So Long Saloon is the the Crank It Up And Head South Burger. The burger’s toppings reflect its name quite well. It’s topped with green chili, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayonnaise, pico de gallo, lettuce and tortilla ribbons.

Other unique burgers So Long Saloon offers include the Aloha Burger and the Peanut Butter Burger. The Aloha features bourbon BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, grilled pineapple and mozzarella cheese. The distinct Peanut Butter Burger comes topped with peanut butter, sriracha, pickles, bacon and pepper jack cheese.

All of So Long Saloon’s burger options come with the customer’s choice of meat. The options for the patty include hamburger, buffalo, chicken or portobello mushroom.

“We appreciate all of the support,” Stone said. “We are a locally owned and locally driven business. In a college town, keeping locals and regulars is important to us. It’s something we are incredibly proud of.”

Best Mexican Food — Taco Lucha

Taco Lucha, located at 1130 Moro St., is a recent addition to the Manhattan restaurant scene. It will only have been here two years next week, yet it is making waves after having been voted Best Mexican Food for the Best of Manhattan: Purple Apple Awards.

“Since we are so new here, it’s nice to have this recognition,” Seth Stone, general manager of Taco Lucha, said. “There are so many other Mexican restaurants in Manhattan that have already been here for years and are quite well established. Since we are new, it’s an honor.”

Taco Lucha offers an eclectic array of diversity on their menu, from traditional style dishes to bold, daring flavor combinations.

As far as appetizers go, the Chipotle Raspberry and Black Bean Dip is a distinct choice, but it was one menu item carried over from So Long Saloon. Poppers are another popular appetizer, consisting of cream cheese stuffed jalapenos, wrapped in bacon and served with a chipotle raspberry sauce.

One of the most popular appetizer menu items is the Queso Fundido dip. This dip includes melted fontina, roasted poblano and onion, and house-made chorizo, served with tortilla chips.

Two tacos that tend to be the most popular are the Black and Blue Taco, served with grilled blackened steak, cabbage, bleu cheese aioli and bacon, and the Buffalo Chicken Tacos, which consist of grilled chicken, buffalo sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, cabbage and jalapeno ranch all served on a flour tortilla.

“We are looking at having the peanut butter taco every Tuesday,” Stone said. “We had it as a special for a while, and it seemed really popular. Then we stopped serving it. But I think we are going to bring it back every Tuesday and get people excited about it.”

A Mexican restaurant wouldn’t be complete without beverage options. Stone said one thing that makes Taco Lucha’s tequila drinks so special is that they are made with 100 percent agave tequila.

One drink that is exclusive to Taco Lucha is the Poloma, made with grapefruit soda, fresh lime and Cabrito 100 percent agave tequila.

“We have our two year celebration on Nov. 24,” Stone said. “We are really proud of the product we produce and that we are getting recognition for it.”

Best Salon — Shear Dynamics

One of the many salons in Manhattan, Shear Dynamics, located at 1125 Laramie St., has been around almost 30 years.

“It has been awesome,” Belinda Snyder, owner of Shear Dynamics, said. “We’ve always had really excellent stylists. Some people will go to hair schools or massage schools to pay their way through [four year] colleges. I just stayed [in the business].”

Shear Dynamics has claimed the Purple Award for Best Salon in Manhattan.

“We were really excited,” Snyder said. “We try to support K-State philanthropies whether that is through fraternities or sororities or the K-State Student Union. We have been incredibly supportive of a lot of different things. We try to help with different social service projects as well. It’s nice to see us getting something back [in the form of this award] too.”

Originally starting with 1,600 square feet of space, Shear Dynamics has expanded to more than 5,000 square feet as the salon has grown in stylists and customers.

Now featuring a complete salon and spa, Shear Dynamics offers a full range of services to their customers. These services include hair cuts, colors and trims, as well as manicure, pedicure and other nail treatments. Waxing of all varieties is also available, including eyebrows, lip, arms, back or chest, Brazilian and leg waxing. The salon also offers spray tanning.

The spa section of Shear Dynamics is the latest addition. It includes body treatments, facials and massages. Some of the services offered through the spa are also offered in the salon, as the spa is in the upstairs portion of the salon.

Located on the brim of Aggieville, Shear Dynamics Salon and Spa have remained there since opening.

“Our location is great,” Snyder said. “It has really treated our clients well. Our parking lot has expanded, so there is more parking for our clients. The combination of our salon and spa make us so unique. There are many smaller salons that don’t offer as much as we can to our clients. We pretty much do everything and integrate everything into our business.”

Going on 30 years is an accomplishment for many establishments in Manhattan, especially ones located in the Aggieville Business District. Snyder said she has seen a lot of things, but most importantly, she said she has seen Aggieville grow.

“We want people to know how happy we are [with this award] and the continued support is appreciated,” Snyder said. “We are a small business, and we are excited for this honor.”

Best Thrift Store — Rockstar and Rogers

Rockstar and Roger’s, located at 1120 Moro St., has been known for the past four years for buying and selling used name brand clothing for less than name brand prices.

“We are picky about how modern things are when they come into the store for us to buy,” Rebecca Craig, co-owner of Rockstar and Rogers, said. “We hand select all of our inventory. It’s not stuff that is just donated. We try to be on top of the trends and be incredibly fashion forward.”

Rockstar and Rogers has been awarded Best Thrift Store for the Best of Manhattan: Purple Apple Awards.

“We were very excited when we found out,” Craig said.

Rockstar and Rogers has done nothing but grow and prosper for the last 10 years since its opening, even with the economy in a recession.

“We were just a little start-up company,” Craig said. “It’s been a long journey to get off the ground and to be profitable. Our niche is used clothing. When we started, we sold both new and used clothing, but found that the used clothing sold incredibly faster and much more than the new clothing.”

In addition to the location in Aggieville, which emphasizes new and used clothing and accessories, Rockstar and Rogers also has a location in Junction City, which is almost exclusively used clothing. Their latest addition in Manhattan, located at 316 and 318 Poyntz Ave., is a boutique focusing on used furniture and home decor.

“We are a locally owned business, and we have been fortunate that we have thrived when the economy hasn’t done well,” Craig said. “It’s been a long journey to get off the ground and be profitable, but we’re happy we’re here.”

Best Bar — Rusty’s Last Chance and Kite’s Bar and Grill

Two bars that are essentially one and the same, Rusty’s Last Chance and Kite’s Bar and Grill, located at 1213 Moro St. and 615 N. 12 St. respectively, have become staples of the Aggieville Business District. They have also collectively won the Purple Apple award for Best Bar.

“We are extremely honored and flattered that we have that many supporters,” Rusty Wilson, owner of Rusty’s and Kite’s, said.

Kite’s Sports Bar and Grill is most well known for their hand-breaded, made from scratch mozzarella sticks. Another well-known Kite’s appetizer is the Espinaca Dip. This dip is a blend of white cheese, spinach, sautéed onions and tomatoes and served with tortilla chips.

The most well-known entree at Rusty’s is the pork ribs.

“Kite’s is also known for our drink specials,” Wilson said. “We have $2.50 pounders. We sell more pounders than anyone else in Kansas. In fact, we sell more Budweiser products than anyone else in Kansas.”

Wilson is not the original owner of Kite’s. It was originally founded in 1954. Wilson purchased it when the business went up for sale after the previous owner closed it due to bankruptcy. Wilson reopened Kite’s in 2003.

Rusty’s started under different ownership as well. It originally opened under the name Last Chance Pizza. Then, the name changed to Last Chance Saloon in 1982. In 1989, it changed to Rusty’s Last Chance. Wilson purchased the restaurant in 2004. Then, in 2011, Wilson had the opportunity to connect Rusty’s to Kite’s. Since the two are now connected, customers can move with open containers between the two.

Kite’s is actually the official name for both buildings for tax purposes. There are just different names on the outside of the buildings. Wilson owns both buildings and both establishments.

“I would like to make a very special thank you to all of my employees at Kite’s and Rusty’s,” Wilson said. “We hire great people.”

Best Boutique — Kieu’s

Kieu’s took the title of Best Boutique for the first ever Best of Manhattan: Purple Apple Awards.

“It felt great to win,” Madeline Hack, district manager for Kieu’s, said. “Our hard work shows.”

Kieu’s opened in Manhattan six years ago this July and is one of many boutiques and clothing stores in Manhattan. Kieu’s started in Lawrence almost a decade ago and moved to Manhattan just a few years later. The store was created exclusively as a female boutique.

“When we first heard about [this contest] and had made the final three, we congratulated all of the final three,” Hack said. “The majority of the community and our customers voted us the best. We were shocked when it was announced that we won.”

Hack said it’s one of their goals to be on people’s minds as a place to shop. She said even though they are new to Manhattan, they still try to get the word out there. Whether it’s through publicity or advertisements, Hack said word of mouth is the most common way people know about Kieu’s.

“Customer service is our highest priority,” Hack said. “We care most about three things: customer service, price point and products. Price point is where our products are reasonable and affordable prices. We do carry anything from clothes to shoes to accessories to formal wear.”

Hack said she wants to make sure customers enjoy their experience, and that winning Best Boutique shows that they do appreciate their experience at Kieu’s.

“Kieu’s is honored to represent Manhattan in these awards,” Hack said. “It will push us to become even better next year. Thank you to everyone who voted for us.”