This Weekend: A Sneak Peak Plus Food and Drinks at Parlour 1886, the Elgin’s New Restaurant


Marion, Kan., September 23, 2019. The Historic Elgin Hotel in Marion, Kan., will inaugurate its Parlour 1886 restaurant and lounge just days from now for Marion’s annual celebration, Old Settlers Day. The new restaurant and lounge will offer guests a sneak peak at what’s in store for the grand opening later in October by serving beer, wine and cocktails, appetizers, a couple of entrees, and desserts from 3 to 10 p.m. on Friday, 9/27 and 3 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, 9/28.

The project of restoring the “unusually fine dining room” that locals praised when the hotel opened in 1886 has been a vision of Wichita natives, Jeremy and Tammy Ensey since they purchased the landmark three years ago.

“We want to provide the same kind of excellence and quality that made this hotel a destination for generations while updating to satisfy modern tastes,” says Tammy Ensey, proprietor of the hotel.

That means hard-to-find chargrilled oysters today rather than the raw-on-the-half-shell of the past. Cold tongue is out. Fireball whiskey barbecue wings, fried goat cheese croutons, pistachio cream chicken, mac-and-cheese stuff meatloaf, scallops to dive for, and prime ribs are in. Not only this, but the Parlour will offer locally-raised Angus steaks and burgers, a staple for any eatery located in Flint Hills of Kansas.

Michael Trimboli was recently hired as the executive chef for the restaurant, with Andy Hansen, a local to Kansas, as manager.

The Parlour 1886 name evokes the long history of welcoming guests, a theme of the restored three-story limestone structure that was named Most Famous Hotel in Kansas by House Beautiful magazine last year. Historic records indicate that the Elgin Hotel originally offered a double parlor, which, along with the opening date, inspired the restaurant name.

The restaurant and lounge will be queued up to accommodate approximately 65 people inside, including seating at a full bar and seating for 10 in a private dining room. Another 24 can be seated on the covered outdoor dining porch. The Parlour will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening for dinner, with a brunch being served on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The grand opening of the restaurant has yet to be determined.

“We are excited to offer after-church dining on Sundays, which has been something that the community has missed for many years,” says Hansen. “And just offering a nice place to get a drink with friends will be a real bonus for those in the community as well.”

In addition to the restaurant, the hotel (historicelginhotel.com) features a 1,200-square-foot Victorian ballroom, a vintage courtyard, a conference room, library, and game lounge for weddings, celebrations and other gatherings as well as five living rooms, a verandah, a covered porch, and a fitness center. Its 12 suites feature leading-edge amenities such as en-suite bathrooms, jacuzzi tubs, spa showers, and streaming TVs.

The Elgin hires new chef for expansion


Hillsboro Free Press

BY  / ON AUGUST 28, 2019 AT 3:10 PM /

While Chef Michael Trimboli has had much experience in all types of kitchens and working with various types of food, he is about to embark on an adventure unlike any he has ever experienced.

“I’m like a kid in a candy shop! I gotta be honest, the opportunity to work in such a historical building and open a restaurant from scratch, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a chef. Plus to have Tammy as your boss. It’s nice to be in such a happy environment. There is a lot of great energy here.”

Ensey is excited about her new hire and has enjoyed getting to know him.

“I think he is a great addition to our community and will make the restaurant all the more fun.

We found him by posting a job on Indeed.com. We had several excellent candidates, but I think he fits like a glove here,” said Ensey.

Trimboli had just arrived from two days traveling across country in a U haul with all of his belongings and a close friend helping him on the drive. He decided to take a day or two to settle in and get to know Marion.

“I’ve been through Kansas and then I was in Kansas City back in the ’80s, but that’s it. But I’m loving it here,” said Trimboli. “I really like the small town atmosphere and the friendliness.”

Trimboli has always lived in larger cities so Marion County will be a bit of a change of pace for him. But he has always been at home in the kitchen so that will remain the same.

“I’m originally from New York. My parents were both chefs. They owned a pizza place when I was growing up. We always joked growing up that I was born with a spatula in my hand taking orders. I’m very comfortable being in the kitchen. I like being in the kitchen,” said Trimboli. “I like making people happy and cooking is my way of doing so.”

The chef has had a lot of experience cooking and making people happy.

“I moved to Vegas in about ’81 after being in the army. I was in Vegas for about 35-36 years. Most of the hotels have like 10-12 restaurants so I got moved around a lot because I’m flexible. I’m the type of guy who likes learning and didn’t mind. Food is food. To me food and music is what brings people together.”

After Vegas, the chef moved to Florida.

“I was contacted by a company that had contracts with the University (of Florida) with the sorority and fraternity houses. I went and spent two years cooking for those houses in Gainesville, FL and I loved cooking for the college. I was in the army so I never went to college so I didn’t know what to expect. I was so impressed. Everybody was just so nice. They loved having food cooked for them from scratch. They were so polite. I was really impressed with how well mannered they all were,” said Trimboli.

The chef does not have one particular food that he enjoys making the most. He just likes making whatever people want most.

“I gotta be honest, it all depends on who I am cooking for. My favorite thing to cook is what is gonna make you happiest. Your favorite dish is gonna be different from someone else’s. I feel like food is very personal,” said Trimboli. “The joy that it brings people when they get food the way they want makes me happy. People should eat food the way they want it. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice.”

Before coming to work at the Elgin, Trimboli worked at a homeless shelter in Florida. He enjoyed using a local community garden filled with fresh vegetables and herbs to create tasty and healthy meals for his guests even though the chefs before him did not. The chef wanted the homeless population to at least be able to look forward to his food each day.

“I would go out into the dining room and greet them each day. I told them, ‘it doesn’t matter if I am cooking for VIPs and celebrities on the Vegas Strip or if I am cooking for students or if I am cooking here. I am going to make the best food I can with what I got to work with.’ I love to cook,” said Trimboli.

The chef credits not only his training but also his ethnicity for his passion for creating meals that show people how much he cares.

“I’m Italian so food is just big in our culture. We don’t do anything without food,” Trimboli said. “Do you know what Italians talk about at breakfast? What they are gonna eat for lunch!”

Trimboli joked throughout the interview about being the stereotypical Italian, and he did actually sound and act just like the Italians you see in any TV show or movie. He fluctuated between talking passionately about topics he cared about to poking fun at himself.

“I have trouble screwing in a light bulb, but in the kitchen, cooking is my way of fixing things. We live in a society that is getting meaner and meaner, but with cooking, I can put smiles on faces.”

The chef also told several stories about his now deceased wife, who was from Hong Kong, meeting and interacting with his Italian relatives.

“Sometimes the only language everyone had in common was the food, but it was more than enough. Food is very powerful. It transcends cultures and barriers,” said Trimboli.

The chef is having fun with his obvious Italian status.

“I have been to a few places around Marion and people immediately notice I am not from here. I have heard about Hillsboro already and their sausage, so I have been having a little fun. When people comment on me not being from here, I say, ‘Hi, I’m Mike Hillsboro.’ They laugh and say ‘Hillsboro, New York, maybe’ because they can just tell,” said Trimboli.

While there is not a solid date set yet for the opening of the restaurant that will be located at the north end of the Elgin building, Ensey said the place will open before the end of the year.

For the time being, Trimboli is working on creating menus, making prep sheets, spreadsheets, tastings and more.

“We don’t know yet what type of food we will have, but we want to make it accessible to everybody. We don’t want to price anybody out,” said Trimboli.

It is clear that Trimboli will be a flavorful addition to the county in more ways than one.

“He is passionate about what he does – food, and is passionate about what we do – creating a unique experience. He clearly knows the industry and has the experience to run a successful restaurant for the Elgin and Marion County,” said Ensey.

Fine Dining Returns to Marion County’s Historic Elgin Hotel


Fine Dining Returns to Marion County’s Historic Elgin Hotel

Marion, Kan., July 9, 2019 – The Historic Elgin Hotel in Marion, Kan., announced today that it plans to open a fine dining establishment before the end of 2019. The announcement comes less than three years after owners Jeremy and Tammy Ensey purchased and further renovated the three-story 133-year-old landmark.

“Our region has a great need for a fine dining establishment where both hotel guests and community members can enjoy an upscale meal and a drink from the bar,” says owner Tammy Ensey. “While we didn’t originally envision ourselves in the restaurant business when we purchased the hotel, having a restaurant and lounge nearby is absolutely pertinent to being a destination business. We can’t expect guests to drive an hour or more to get here and then send them on another 25 minute drive for an upscale dinner.”

This restaurant will not be the first of its kind in the historic hotel. At its opening in 1886, the hotel began with a fine dining establishment in the south portion of the first floor. Historic menus show that oysters, prime rib, and boiled tongue were served in past days.  “We understand that many upscale events happened here at the Elgin, including a Governor’s ball,” states Ensey, “and the restaurant surely catered these events.”

The dining tradition continued at the Elgin Hotel up until the late 1960s when the hotel was closed to the public.  “Many of the folks that live in Marion tell stories of dining at the Elgin,” says Andy Hansen, Project & Facility Manager for the hotel. “For many of those still living in our community, it was once a tradition to come to the Elgin for Sunday lunch.”

Construction began last month on the 1,200 square foot space located in the northwest portion of the first floor. The general contractor is Rock Construction out of Wichita.  The restaurant is expected to feature a full bar, a private dining room, and a covered patio, seating up to 65 people inside and another 16 outside. While neither a restaurant name has been chosen nor a menu revealed, Hansen reports that the restaurant will likely be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu will not be established until an Executive Chef and General Manager is hired.

In addition to the restaurant, the hotel features a 1,200-square-foot Victorian ballroom, a conference room, library, and game lounge where guests can host weddings, meetings and celebrations.  The hotel also boasts 5 living rooms, the original verandah, a fitness center, game lounge, outdoor courtyard, and 12 unique suites featuring modern amenities such as ensuite bathrooms, docking stations, streaming TVs, and Jacuzzi tubs.

The Enseys, who purchased the Elgin in 2016 and marked it as the “finest fully-renovated 19th-century historic boutique hotel in Kansas, have grown the business over the past 3 years. Ensey reports that last year the hotel saw over 3,100 overnight guests, plus hundreds of others for events and tours. The Elgin continues to make its mark in the Flint Hills of Kansas and this restaurant will be one more reason for guests to frequent the historic landmark.

Chisholm Trail

Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West


Did you know the Civil War played a part in the rise of the Chisholm Trail? Despite the destroyed railhead of Lawrence in 1863, the Kansas Pacific Railway continued across the Prairie, and by the spring of 1867, the track reached tiny Abilene. Eventually, this is where Joseph McCoy brought his cattle—a major part of the Chisholm Trail, and the growth of Abilene, Kansas.

You can learn all this and more by stopping by the Chisholm Trail exhibit running till the July 24th at the Historic Elgin Hotel. Paid for in part by the City of Marion, a joint project with Symphony in the Flint Hills and Flint Hills Design, and major funding by Lost Trail Soda, the Chisholm Trail exhibit is a wondrous way to learn something new and important to our state’s, and country’s, history.

Chisholm Trail Exhibit

Chisholm Trail Exhibit at the Historic Elgin Hotel till July 24, 2018

Joseph McCoy, who contributed to the growth of Abilene, and Jesse Chisholm, for whom the trail is named after, never met, yet these two men laid the foundation for the greatest cattle trail in all of America.

The trail starts and stops in various places. It depended on many things, one of which was the farmers of the land the cowboys tried crossing into. Cowboys drove Texas longhorn up the Chisholm Trail, but many farmers worried about disease carried by longhorns and the effect the animals would have on the farmer’s cattle. Though the longhorns were immune, regular cattle were not. The fear grew so big, the farmers once blocked the Shawnee trail to keep the longhorns out, and the cowboys had to adapt.

The cowboys of this time are not quite like the ones we see in films today. The “cowboy” idea came from the vaquero (vah-kair-oh), “Mexican cowboys”. They tended to longhorn and expanded the cattle industry, supplying America with beef, leather, and tallow. These men worked long and hard, and though it seems little discrimination happened along the trail, segregation became a reality when the cowboys arrived in towns and cities, as one-third the cowboys were African American, American Indian, or Mexican.

Cowboys as we see them today came about from songs they sang and stories they wrote until novels were published and cowboys appeared on the big screen. They found their way into the hearts of Americans and have stayed.

Know what the different positions the cowboys had when driving cattle? From wrangler and remuda to trail boss and chuck wagon, it’s all here. Want to know how to say “prairie” in three different American Indian languages? There is plenty more to learn here at the Chisholm Trail exhibit. Stop by the Historic Elgin Hotel and take a tour of the exhibit before it moves on down the trail. We would love to see you here!

Blog by Grace Major of Hillsboro, Kansas.

Chisholm Trail gift shop

Chisholm Trail gift shop

Historic Elgin Hotel, a Hotel in Kansas

Historic Marion hotel recognized by House Beautiful


Hutchinson News Logo

Posted Mar 18, 2018 at 1:01 AM

Historic Marion hotel recognized by House Beautiful

MARION – The Historic Elgin Hotel in Marion has been named the Most Famous Hotel in Kansas by House Beautiful magazine.

The recognition comes less than two years after owners Jeremy and Tammy Ensey purchased and further renovated the three-story 132-year-old landmark.

“Though it doesn’t stand tall, this boutique hotel in Kansas’ Flint Hills boasts a 19th-century limestone exterior that sets it apart,” the magazine reported. “Its Victorian ballroom and guest rooms transport patrons to another era, as will local attractions like the Marion County Courthouse and the Santa Fe Trail.”

The Enseys, who purchased the Elgin in 2016, learned of the honor in a congratulatory email from the Kansas Travel & Tourism Division.

The hotel between Wichita and Kansas City has attracted plaudits since built by Marion residents with lofty aspirations for their city’s future. A newspaper at the time called it “a monument to Marion’s glory and a common pride to citizens and its enterprising builders.”

The Elgin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, after it was spared the wrecking ball and converted into apartment houses. The Enseys bought it from a couple who had completed a full renovation and transformed it into the bed and breakfast.

“Our community is forever indebted to previous owners, Jim and Nancy Cloutier for so accurately restoring this great landmark,” says Ensey. “We see it now as our role to tell the world of this place that so beautifully blends the nostalgia of the past with the luxuries of today.”

In addition to a 1,200-square-foot Victorian ballroom, the hotel (historicelginhotel.com) offers a conference room, library, and game lounge for weddings, meetings and gatherings as well as five living rooms, a verandah, a covered porch, and a fitness center. Its 12 suites feature leading-edge amenities such as ensuite bathrooms, docking stations, streaming TVs, and hot tubs.

For more information about the hotel, visit https://historicelginhotel.com or contact Tammy Ensey at stay@historicelginhotel.com or (620) 382-3200.

Credit: The Hutchinson News, http://www.hutchnews.com/news/20180318/business-briefs

Destination hotel, Historic Elgin Hotel guests enjoy high noon tea

It’s all in the marketing for destination hotel owner



It’s all in the marketing for destination hotel owner

Branding, online presence, special events, and targeted groups all in the mix for destination hotel


News editor

Historic Elgin Hotel owner Tammy Ensey knows she got something special when she and her husband, Jeremy, bought the property from Jim and Nancy Cloutier.  Investing heavily in renovations to the hotel, the Cloutiers created an elegant environment ripe for the Enseys’ plans for a destination hotel.

“Their piece of it in the renovation of the property was not something I would have tackled,” Tammy Ensey said. “Without the renovation, it would have been impossible. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that part.”

The hotel came with some good reviews and people who knew about it, but Ensey’s plans would take the business to a whole new level.

Ensey brought experience as a travel agent to the venture, but took advantage of a weeklong training event in Colorado promoted by Marion economic development director Randy Collett and NetWork Kansas.

“It was a huge help to go out to Destination Boot Camp,” Ensey said. “Most of what I learned wasn’t new, but it put it in a context of how I could apply it to my business.”

And with that, the Enseys decided to “scrap what was there and start again.”

That began by developing a “Historic Elgin Hotel” logo and brand that would be used consistently to create familiarity.

“It’s really important not only for your branding but also search engine optimization that your name is the same everywhere, the address is the same.”

Creating a more robust online presence was a must, Ensey said, because the business is driven by customers who aren’t local. That included a new website, and getting the hotel listed with TravelKansas and popular online travel booking sites.

“That helped awareness of people who are planning to travel to the area,” Ensey said.

Social media also was integral to Ensey’s marketing plan.

“It’s like a worm,” Ensey said. “You get a message out there, and when you start partnering with places like Wheat State Distillery and Walnut River Brewery, just by tagging them, we hit all their followers, and they ask, ‘Why are they going there?’”

The picturesque hotel sells itself through pictures posted online by patrons, Ensey said.

“There are a lot of photo opportunities at the Elgin,” she said. “If they’re a Pinterest or Instagram user, they’ll post it out there.”

Ensey has developed a growing list of subscribers to the hotel’s newsletter.

“We have a weekly email newsletter that goes out,” she said. “It’s crazy, but my list that goes out to is over 1,000 people now. People learn of something and want to get on the list. They’ve been here, or they know someone who’s stayed here.”

Last summer, Ensey enlisted photographers from Pennsylvania who specialize in bed and breakfast photography to create the images she uses to promote the hotel.

“I think that’s the one biggest mistake businesses make, that they don’t represent themselves well in their photography,” she said. “You want the pictures to speak words about what the experience is, not just a picture of a room.”

Another business mistake Ensey has worked to avoid is concentrating on one target market. She has several.

Leisure travelers between 35 and 80 years old are one group.

“They’re generally going to be someone from the Wichita and Kansas City areas, but we don’t throw out that we’re going to get people from Hutchinson, Salina, and other places nearby. One of the reasons we’re gaining that market share is that we have the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and the Flint Hills.”

Weddings are another target.

“We’ve really focused on the Wichita and Salina markets to get them to do weddings,” Ensey said. “What comes with that is that people want to book the whole place.”

Ensey also wants to attract more business travelers, and said she’s making changes to accommodate their unique needs.

The Elgin’s regular 9 a.m. breakfast wasn’t well-suited for business travelers, so Ensey created guest cards for them to use at local bakeries, and will prepare individual breakfast packs they can grab and go.

Increasing the number of family reunions held at the Elgin also is in the works, Ensey said.

Special events, like Saturday’s high tea and wine and beer-tasting nights, all accompanied by live music, bring a different mix of people to the hotel and experiences that bring them back.

When a crew from a Wichita TV station came to do a segment on the Elgin, the reporter gained Ensey some new customers.

“Stephanie Bergman of KSN called right back and booked rooms for herself and friends for our distillery event,” Ensey said.

Special events also connect the hotel to folks at home.

“It really adds to the support we get from the community here,” she said. “They love having these things to do. It’s just one more feather in our cap to say, ‘Hey, we’re here for you, too.’”

The key to repeat business is having a good experience at the hotel, and toward that end Ensey has worked hard to assemble a staff focused on customer service.

Guests can take a piece of the Elgin with them when they go by buying Historic Elgin Hotel coffee, blended and roasted in Hillsboro, mugs, and wine glasses.

“We’re building out a retail line of Elgin items with two themes,” Ensey said, “things people actually use and enjoy while staying here, and a second line we’re hoping to bring in of vintage items that go with the era of the late 1800s when the Elgin was born.”

More plans are in the works, but Ensey said all the work she’s poured into the business has been worth it.

“Clearly it’s a big risk,” she said. “You’re not next to Disney World, and you’re investing a great deal in a property and an idea. We have a great staff now and we have enough working capital. We’re getting to the point where things are successful. We’re starting to see those rewards, and that’s nice.”

Last modified April 11, 2018

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