Being imaginative with her cooking is nothing new to Katherine Wald. Raising two sets of twins, born two years apart, put her creative cooking skills to the test. April Fools’ Day meals consisted of items like what appeared to be a grilled cheese sandwich, but was actually pancakes with frosting. Or it might be a scoop of yogurt with a peach on top that looked more like a fried egg made by the now restaurateur.
“Now they’re getting older and don’t think it’s as fun anymore,” she says. “I feel like my customers are my kids now that I get to cook for them. I try to go over the top with what I make and get reactions out of them.”
Katherine and her husband, Seth, own Captain’s Corner in Paradise. The couple bought the existing grill, general store and gas station five years ago and have been feeding hungry boaters, farmers and everyone in between since. They’re known for serving up mammoth mounds of meat between sliced bread, particularly as their daily specials.
“There was an established menu when we bought it,” she says. “I didn’t want to change everything right away, so we just kind of found out what would work and what didn’t. Right as we hit our stride COVID hit. We were worried, so many restaurants closed. I wanted to fight for my business that I love so I started going nuts with these crazy creations as daily specials and it just took off.”
How crazy? A 14-inch tortilla stuffed with homemade macaroni and cheese, fried chicken strips, buffalo sauce and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos crumbles. A Spaghetti Grilled Cheese featuring provolone, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses with spaghetti and housemade meat sauce between two slices of garlic bread. Or a pork tenderloin sandwich topped with tater tots, nacho cheese sauce and jalapenos. And don’t forget about the foot-long tacos on Tuesdays.
Katherine starts the tacos with a 12-inch tortilla she fries to order with the assistance of two pizza pans bent to the shape of a taco shell. Once cooked, the shell gets a layer of tater tots, seasoned ground beef, housemade chipotle cream, shredded cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo.
“Some people are hesitant of the tater tots, but we usually can convince them to try it,” she says. “All the flavors go so well together and the homemade pico tops it off. We try and take the extra steps to make it special.”
Katherine’s specials are offered every weekday and posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page in the morning. Don’t worry if the special is sold out when you arrive, the menu is full of unique options.
“This restaurant has always been known for its Cheeseburgers in Paradise,” she says. “If someone has never been here before I always tell them to go for the cheeseburger.”
The Captain’s Classic is a traditional cheeseburger featuring your choice of one, two or three one-third pound marinated and seasoned beef patties with plenty of cheeses from which to choose. Add bacon or grilled onions for a bite to remember.
Other options include the BBQ Bacon Cheddar, Spicy Jalapeno and Mushroom Swiss burgers. Show up with an unreasonable appetite after a day of boating on Smithville Lake and Katherine has choices for you.
The Munchie Burger is a former daily special that Katherine said was popular enough to make the everyday menu. It starts with Captain’s Corner’s double bacon cheeseburger along with pickles, French fries, an onion ring and barbecue ranch between the buns. A chicken strip, macaroni and cheese wedges and a mozzarella stick are skewered on the top bun. “I love it when people see something and they get excited about it,” Katherine says. “I’ll walk out with a Munchie Burger and everyone here turns and is like: ‘Oh my gosh, what is that?’ ”
If you’re feeling competitive, take on the Bigfoot Burger Challenge. The meal starts with six one-third pound patties, American cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion and pickles served with 1 pound of tater tots. Eat the whole thing in 30 minutes and you’ll be the proud new owner of a T-shirt.
It’s not just burgers at Captain’s Corner, which is served by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative. Their breaded pork tenderloin and Philly cheesesteak are two of the most popular sandwiches. For a twist on a traditional grilled cheese, order the Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese, another daily special-turned-everyday item. The sandwich starts with slices of thick-cut Texas toast which get a layer of seasoned cream cheese and cheddar, bacon and grilled jalapenos cooked through.
“It’s not super spicy because we seed the jalapenos,” Katherine says. “You’ve got the buttery flavor of the bread and richness of the cream cheese. Then the bacon and cheddar cheese, it’s incredible.”
They also serve traditional breakfast items such as meat and egg sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and thick-cut French toast. Wake up with a sweet tooth and you can enjoy their large cinnamon or pecan rolls. The sweet rolls and cream cheese frosting are made fresh daily.
Captain’s Corner serves as much more than a restaurant for the unincorporated village of Paradise. It’s also their general store, gas station and bait shop for those looking to catch their dinner. As such, the doors don’t stay closed for long throughout the day.
“I’m a people person. I want them to be happy when they’re here,” she says. “From our crazy specials to our giant chair, Bigfoot and mural outside to take pictures with I just try and make sure we let people have a good time when they’re here.”
Specialties: Burgers including the Captain’s Classic, BBQ Bacon Cheddar and Munchie burgers. Sandwiches including the breaded pork tenderloin, Philly cheesesteak and Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese. Daily specials including 12-inch tacos, sloppy Joes and spaghetti grilled cheese. Housemade pecan and cinnamon rolls.
Price: Burgers from $7.75 to $19.95. Sandwiches and salads from $7.75 to $9.25. Daily specials at $10 and up to $18 for specialty items. Sides from $3.25 to $7.50.
Details: Open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Cash and credit cards accepted. Nonsmoking. Located at 18419 Collins Road in Paradise. Contact at 816-532-0442.