Pachamamas to help celebrate customer's 100th birthday before it closes

For the last five years, Topeka resident Betty Jane Moore has celebrated her birthday with dinner at her favorite restaurant: Pachamamas in downtown Lawrence.

This year, she's turning 100, and though the big day officially falls on Feb. 24, Moore and her family have scheduled reservations at Pachamamas for Saturday.

The iconic Lawrence eatery will close its doors for good this Valentine's Day, and the soon-to-be centenarian was more than willing to have her birthday dinner there a few weeks early, says Hilary Edwards, Moore's granddaughter.

"We've been calling it bittersweet," Edwards says."It's so wonderful to celebrate her birthday there, but to never be able to go again... What are we going to do next year when she turns 101?"

Edwards, who started the tradition when Moore turned 95, says the staff at Pachamamas has always treated her grandmother "like royalty." Former Pachamamas pastry chef Jay Tovar-Ballagh, now at Hank Charcuterie, made her a special dessert every year and always stepped out of the kitchen to wish Moore a happy birthday.

On Saturday, Ken Baker will also create a special dish for Moore based on her favorite flavors (probably a mixed grill of beef, pork and salmon, he says) as will current Pachamamas pastry chef Sam Hupp.

Knowing that Moore and her family chose to celebrate her 100th birthday at his restaurant, despite its closing weeks before the actual day, is "amazing," Baker says.

"It's difficult for me to hear that, but at the same time, it makes me feel pretty good about what we've been doing the last 15 years," he says. "From the outside looking in, I've realized there's a lot of people who really care about this place."

Betty Jane Moore, shown here with former Pachamamas pastry chef Jay Tovar-Ballagh on her 97th birthday, is celebrating her 100th birthday at the restaurant a few weeks early this year.

Betty Jane Moore, shown here with former Pachamamas pastry chef Jay Tovar-Ballagh on her 97th birthday, is celebrating her 100th birthday at the restaurant a few weeks early this year. by Photo courtesy of Hilary Edwards

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