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Couple keeps business cooking

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

David Spady and Sarah Polifka have survived a tough several months in 2012. Both their fathers died within a four-month span of each other last spring and summer.

But the Hays couple is looking forward to Christmas -- and the new year -- with a renewed vigor.

Spady and Polifka have re-opened Chestnut Street Kitchens at 1310 Main, a store David's dad ran in conjunction with his floral business, Dwayne's Designs, next door to the south.

If genetics have anything to do with it, Hays can count on a new successful business downtown.

Spady is the son of popular longtime Hays florist Dwayne Spady, who died in May while delivering flowers to a funeral. Polifka is the daughter of Frank Polifka, who died in August after a short bout with cancer.

Frank Polifka, a successful local farmer, patented the Windhexe, or tornado in a can -- an upside-down cone with an air force that creates a "tornado in a can" that pulverizes into a fine powder whatever you put into it.

So it's no wonder his youngest daughter said, "I always like a challenge."

When Dwayne Spady died, no one in the family had interest in keeping open his floral business.

"Dwayne's Designs wasn't anything without Dwayne," Polifka said.

While the family was trying to finalize the closing of Dwayne's Designs after his death, the couple came up with the idea to at least keep open Chestnut Street Kitchens.

"It was a day thing, pretty spontaneous," Spady's youngest son said.

Dwayne Spady had opened his floral design business in downtown Hays in 1994 and later rented, then bought, a small building just to the north of his business.

That building started as a storage area that eventually evolved into a separate business that featured a line of gourmet foods and spices, drinks such as teas and coffees, as well as salsa and dips, some cookware and other kitchenware-type products.

Spady is inventory manager at Lang Diesel in Hays, so Polifka handles most of the face-to-face customer business.

She works downtown six days a week, working around her schedule at Applebee's, where she handles three shifts a week as a bartender.

While they decided to keep the same name, Chestnut Street Kitchens has taken on a new look with a vinyl hardwood-looking floor and fresh paint. Several of the fixtures are different, too, and the former ones have been painted.

"We redid all the fixtures to meet our style," Polifka said while grinding coffee beans for a customer on the spot recently.

The business still features many of the same lines as before, as well as new ones. There are salsa and dips, in addition to drink mixes and popcorn, bar soap and kitchen gadgets and even fresh chocolate truffles.

Chestnut Street Kitchens also now can exchange cartridges for SodaStream soda makers.

"We want it to be a one-stop kind of shop," Polifka said. "A place for any occasion."

With the exception of Sunday, when it is closed, the store opens every day at 10:30 a.m. It's open until 2:30 p.m. every day except Friday, when those hours are extended to 5:30.

While store hours are different than most businesses, Polifka said she tried to keep them as regular each day as she could along with working her other job. Besides, this is no regular downtown business.

It's definitely a gourmet shop; you don't come here for your groceries," she said. "For us, this is for fun, to keep open Dwayne's business."

"We just wanted to keep it alive," his son said.