Charles Walter Porubsky took charge of the building at 508 N.E. Sardou, located in the Little Russia neighborhood of North Topeka, on Jan 1, 1947 and began a legendary business under the simplicity of his own name: C.W. Porubsky’s Grocery and Meats Co. Charles had a way of catering to the community’s needs. When his early customers needed a quick place to get lunch and relax from work, he converted the garage next to his grocery store into a tavern and dining room. On a landmark day in 1955, when a hungry customer asked Charles’ mother, Katherine, for a bowl of the chili she’d been cooking for the family, he realized that his mother’s chili deserved to be enjoyed by what became a whole nation. And he was able to recognize the enjoyment of eating a pickle that could melt your insides, not to mention the pleasure of watching someone else nearly go up in flames with each bite. But it was that trip around and over the tracks to the unassuming location and the singular experience of the place and its people that branded C.W. Porubsky’s into Midwest history.
Porubsky’s has withstood time and the challenges that it indelibly brings. Charles had to re-build the store after the ’51 flood wiped it away with water and flood-mud, and again had to remodel after a fire in 1966. The Porubsky family and friends have experienced good and bad times in business and life, but, despite enormous change in the Little Russia neighborhood and the world at large, C.W. Porubsky’s has remained a friendly and reliable neighborhood grocery and tavern, just the way Charles always intended it.