Can you bring me some Laha’s

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By Doug Ponder

For a lot of LaRue County natives who moved away from home, one question they usually ask LaRue Countians who travel to visit them is, “can you bring some Laha’s burgers with you?”

Laha’s Red Castle is located on 21 Lincoln Square in Hodgenville and it is owned by Kelly and Anita Laha. The restaurant is known across the county for their hamburgers that are made with onions. They also serve a wide variety of other food items including chili dogs, hot dogs, chili, chicken nuggets, french fries, onion rings and more.

Anita Laha said the restaurant was opened in 1934 by her husband’s grandparents, William and Sally Laha. She said her and her husband didn’t take over Laha’s until 2002.

“Laha’s use to be a full service restaurant on the corner of the square from where we are now. Kelly’s grandparents left and went to Illinois for a short time. We are not for sure when they came back, but we know they were back by the early 40s,” Laha said. “Laha’s was eventually passed to Roland and Mildred Laha before it was passed to us. Our son Ethan Laha also worked here before he went to Western (WKU) for school. He is the fourth generation to work here.”

The restaurant has had its share of family members and friends who have worked there throughout the years. However, one worker has proved to be an icon of the restaurant as she has worked there for several decades.

“Edna Mae Owens has been here for over 30 years,” Laha said. “People come in and ask for her specifically, especially all of our regulars.”

The name of the restaurant of course features their last name. However, the “Red Castle” has a unique story behind it.

“Kelly’s grandma Sally loved the color red and she always wore red lipstick,” Laha said. “White Castle was already taken of course, so they (Kelly’s grandparents) called it red castle instead.”

The name Laha’s Red Castle is recognized throughout the country. Edna Mae Owens had several stories to tell from their customers out of state.

“We have a truck driver who always stops by when he is in the area and he brings a sack or cooler in to fill them up with hamburgers to take with him on the road. He said he was in Canada one time fixing him some in the microwave he had and another driver smelled them and said ‘do you have some Laha’s?’ That just goes to show you we are known in other countries, not only other states.” Owens said. “The smell lures people in here. We have had people from out of town who said they followed the smell and found us.”

Laha also had several stories to tell about people wanting Laha’s burgers out of state.

“We have a woman from Chicago who always stops by here and gets a bunch to take back with her,” Laha said. “We have one guy that serves in the military in Hawaii. When his brother goes to visit him, he always askS his brother to bring some Laha’s (burgers) with him. We could tell stories like this all day”

Laha went on to say that she is proud of the generations of tradition at the restaurant. However, she said she is more proud of serving her customers and community.

“We are all about tradition here. We still use a cast iron grill that has been here since the 1950s,” Laha said. “What I love the most is getting to see everyone and keeping up with everyone. We enjoy being here and we are also a sponsor of the Goodtime Cruisers car show from April to October. During that time, we stay open later on Saturdays.”

Laha’s hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant closes at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information call 270-358-9201.