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A recent visit to Kitok, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on North 18th Street, proved enlightening. Recent drives by the place had revealed work crews on the roof and groundwork near the front entrance. News had circulated that the place, a Waco tradition since 1975 known for its “liplocker” meals, oriental fries, house-recipe soy sauce and Asian hospitality, faced financial challenges.

Indeed, proprietor Kyong Dehnert said a chronically leaky roof had been repaired, the foundation had been leveled, and other minor repairs had been tackled in recent months. She said the tab had climbed to $18,000, and more work remained, specifically treatment for the buckling, bulging, moisture-damaged wall paneling. Still, business had remained steady.

In late December, friends and regular Kitok customers started contributing to a GoFundMe account launched to ease the financial burden.

As for the groundwork, tiny wooden fencing and strips of plastic near the entryway, Dehnert said her husband, Michael, is preparing to plant a garden that will add spice and flavor to Kitok dishes. She said she and Michael, from Cincinnati, Ohio, bought Kitok from the previous owners in January 2018. Dehnert said she was employed at Kitok several years, so she is aware of its place and popularity in Waco’s restaurant scene.

Here's how Waco Today magazine described the restaurant's famous “liplocker” with fries in its 2012 burger issue:

The burger is a two-fisted, delicious mess of giant beef patties, generous cheese and toppings that hang off the plate. The fries are like nothing you’ve seen before: Ultra-thin and flash-fried, they come piled high and dotted with similarly fried carrots. The whole thing resembles an incredibly tasty bird nest, and the fries are delicious on their own, dipped in a tangy swirl of ketchup and mayonnaise or in Kitok’s savory soy sauce.

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Kitok was featured in the July 2012 issue of Waco Today magazine. Click here to read the story about Waco's favorite burgers.