Start a restaurant in the midst of a global pandemic. This is likely not the advice you would get from your financial advisor or your mother. But, that’s exactly what Scott Sieben decided to do in August 2020.
Scott isn’t new to the restaurant game. A native Manhattanite and Kansas State graduate, he cut his teeth in the industry as a cook at Kite's Bar and Grill in 2002. Over the past two decades, he has bolstered his resume with stints as a bartender, manager, operations director, and eventually, entrepreneur. In 2010, Scott and his wife Lindsay acquired Mr. K's Café and Bar, a westside gem known for its high-quality service and mouth-watering cookie bake. In 2018, Scott took the next step in his journey as a restaurateur when he purchased Kite’s, the very same Aggieville hotspot where he got his start. So, while the rest of us may have balked at the idea of starting a business during a time of such uncertainty, Scott had the insight and experience to see the opportunity in front of him.
The first thing I noticed about Rockin K’s was the light. Located in the K-State Foundation building, the space features floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural light to illuminate the restaurant throughout the day. As you take in the restaurant’s expansive, modern interior, you cannot help but notice the eclectic mix of Kansas curios and K-State sports paraphernalia lining the walls. From photos of Wildcat legends and the majestic Flint Hills, to Big 12 trophies and a mounted bobcat, there’s no question that you’re in MHK. After the sun sets, diners can admire the most awe-inspiring sight in Manhattan, the luminous Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
But, you’ll be forgiven for not noticing the surroundings if you are too busy drooling over the food.
“You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu,” says Scott.
The menu has something for truly everyone: busy professionals, health-conscious eaters, and, of course, the game day crowd. Scott’s personal go-to is the Asian wrap, which features sliced chicken, chow mein noodles, and a delectable peanut sauce. Tailgaters and barbecue lovers alike delight over the brisket nachos, which are smoked on-site. Those looking for a meat alternative can stink their teeth into the Caliburger, a plant-based burger with sliced avocado, vegan cheese, and grape tomatoes on a brioche bun. Beyond the plate, Rockin K’s offers a handful of local beers and specialty cocktails, including the amethyst-hued blackberry mojito, perfect for Wildcat fans.
While Rockin K’s, Mr. K’s, and Kite’s each feature their own menu, it was important to Scott that the culture remained consistent across all three restaurants. The hosts, servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff work together to ensure that locals and visitors leave happy and full.
Since opening, Rockin K’s has welcomed a number of catered events in the space: weddings, birthdays, the 2021 MHK Chili Cook-Off, and the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year Award ceremony. They have also had the privilege of hosting Hail and Farewell events honoring military members preparing to leave for deployment.
While we are still in the midst of intense uncertainty, one thing is certain: nothing beats time together with loved ones over a great meal. Whether you want to root for the Cats over a plate of brisket nachos, enjoy a Sunday brunch on the outdoor patio, or pick up a quick lunch, Rockin K’s is a must-visit for all Manhattanites.