Life in KC

Kitchen Convo: Katie Wietenhagen is thriving at Succotash

Katie Wietenhagen’s favorite food splurge is the Indian buffet at Taj Palace on 39th Street.
Katie Wietenhagen’s favorite food splurge is the Indian buffet at Taj Palace on 39th Street.

“It’s just Katie,” Succotash server and floor manager Katie Wietenhagen says when asked what her name is short for. “In the age of Katherines, I think my parents were trying to be different. So, yeah, just Katie.”

But the life of this former freelance designer from Des Moines, Iowa, is far from being so simple. For one thing, Wietenhagen likes to think of herself as a “gypsy” who has spent the bulk of her 29 years working in cities all over the Midwest and the South.

After a stint in Minneapolis, followed by some time in Tulsa, Okla., with her librarian brother, Wietenhagen made her way to Memphis before coming to Kansas City two years ago “for a fine young lady.”

Last spring, when things began to go “awry” with Wietenhagen’s relationship, she fell in love with the staff she had only recently joined at Succotash.

It was quite possibly this passion that led Wietenhagen to be promoted to being one of Succotash’s five floor managers.

“I think I was promoted so quickly just from overworking,” Wietenhagen laughs, noting that her main job responsibilities now include “living and breathing Succotash.”

The brunch and lunch diner at 2601 Holmes St. also operates as a kind of amateur art gallery curated by owner Beth Barden, described by Wietenhagen as an “evil genius and one-woman army.” Like many of her colleagues there, Wietenhagen continues to make time for creative endeavors.

“I’m always clicking and editing,” Wietenhagen says about her photography work. Although she has yet to have an exhibit at Succotash, a mural she’s painting in the billiards room at Davey’s Uptown will be ready for view later next month.

“I think that my design roots are slipping back in,” Wietenhagen says. “I’m constantly creating these days.”

Favorite ingredient?

Cheese. I’m a Midwest girl, and that’s OK!

Favorite cheap meal on the fly?

Genghis Khan. I used to go there like four times a week.

Best meal you’ve had this week?

Man, I had some amazing carrots yesterday.

When money and calories aren’t a concern, what do you splurge on?

The Indian buffet at Taj Palace. That is divine!

What’s your go-to drink after a long, hard day?

I drink a lot of water, I drink a lot of coffee and I drink a lot of juice.

Dream vacation?

I’ve always wanted to go to Australia.

Any particular dish you despise serving?

When I worked in Memphis, we served mostly fried food, which I’m not proud giving to people I respect.

Pizza: Hot and fresh, or cold and morning after?

Hot and fresh.

Favorite dessert?

Crème brûlée.

What culinary trend do you wish would hit town?

Salad food trucks!

Favorite KC BBQ?

When I first came into town, I became a vegetarian, then a vegan. And only in the last two months have I eaten meat again. I still haven’t ventured into the KC BBQ world.

Favorite foodie city (aside from KC)?

Des Moines. They’ve really been doing some good fooding there over the last few years.

What else would you do if you weren’t a server and floor manager?

I would probably still be doing freelance design. That has been my heartbeat since college.