Union Street Social, located at 225 E 6th Ave, is a newcomer to the restaurant scene in Emporia. Opened in September 2021, the restaurant offers patrons a unique dining experience with a reservation preferred business model, food made with local ingredients and an interior field with knick-knacks and a variety of lounge spaces.
Amanda Hague, the owner of Union Street Social, was inspired by her love of Lebanese culture and her experiences on her family's ranch when she developed the menu.
“It (the menu) is what I like to eat, and what I like to cook,” Hague said. “There's some Middle Eastern influence. We’ve always cooked more vegetable-forward and try to use really good quality ingredients.”
The menu includes a variety of popular appetizers, entrees, salads, cocktails and espresso drinks, most of which have been uniquely modified by Hague. For example, the Farmhouse Grilled Cheese isn’t just bread and cheese; it’s Cottonwood River cheddar, goat cheese, apricot jam, bacon and petite greens on grilled breadman sourdough.
The ingredients Union Street Social uses are locally sourced. Their ground beef is produced by Salt Creek Farms in Greenwood County, their microgreens (leafy greens harvested before their first leaves have developed) are sourced from a farmer in Kansas and the Cottonwood River cheddar cheese is produced by the Jason Wiebe Dairy which is located in Durham, Kansas.
“Honestly, especially with all the supply chain issues that have happened, I think that has helped us be a little more isolated by some of that because we are working with producers that are local,” Hague said. “My family's background are ranchers, so I see how cattle are treated. It's really important to me that things are humanely treated.”
Buying locally sourced ingredients causes an increase in operating costs which get pushed to the consumer. An entree from Union Street Social varies from $10 to $26 which is comparable to Radius Brewing Co. where a sandwich or entree costs $9 to $32.
“Our prices are a little bit higher, but we really try to buy really quality ingredients,” Hague said.
Trenton Bottles, a server at Union Street Social, enjoys working at the restaurant. He says that the food coupled with the environment make the restaurant a spot for everyone.
“It’s nice seeing so many different types of people from different walks of life, all come in and leave with the same satisfaction,” said Bottles. “I've never worked anywhere where the food, environment and engagement between staff and the guest is so satisfying. It's hard to put into words but this is the most fulfilling job I've ever had, and I've been in this industry for 18 years.”
Javier Chavez, senior saxophone performance major, has been to Union Street Social several times. He appreciates the restaurant because there's nowhere else like it in town.
“The recipes are very experimental, but they are good,” said Chavez. “I’m a very picky eater and I had the chicken sandwich, and it was probably the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had.”
“It's definitely a place I would recommend,” said Chavez. “I would say it's a more formal place. Don't expect to go to Happs (half-priced appetizers at Applebees). I feel like it's a classier place, like if you are going on a date or to a gala it would be a great place to go to. It's a little heavy on the wallet, so if you are on a tight budget, I wouldn't recommend it.”
Union Street Social is open Wednesday-Saturday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Their menu and list of events can be found on their website, unionstreetsocial.com.