Monthly Archives: March 2012

A sticky job, but…

Diane Ward might just be a kind person, but she claimed my strawberry sundae making skills were top notch.

We had fun soda jerking at Old Mill Tasty Shop this afternoon.

Owner Mary Wright put me on “fuzzy” drink and sundae making duty, and Carrie took the lead in the milkshake department.

In an hour, I made three cherry limeades, one cherry Dr. Pepper, one vanilla Diet coke, two turtle sundaes, one strawberry sundae, two hot fudge sundaes and a butterscotch shake. Only one customer complained when I forgot the pecans on the turtle, but she ate it anyway.

Thanks to Deanna for this photo of Carrie, Mary and me. Watch out, people. I have soda fountain clearance, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I realized why the drinks at Old Mill taste so good: It’s because they fresh-mix the syrup with the soda water. I also realized how cut my arms would be if I spent every day scooping ice cream out of that freezer.

It’s a tight fit behind that soda fountain, but Mary and her employees were patient with us. Best of all: Now that we’re trained, Mary gave us permission to go behind the counter and make what we want whenever.

My daughter will be so impressed.

The Irish-est, eating-ist holiday ever

If only my favorite Patrick was old enough to have an ID...

The interesting St. Paddy’s Day dining deals just keep rolling in this week. Just in the past couple of days, I’ve learned that IHOP is making a green spinach/egg concoction on Saturday, another zillion or so bars are cooking corned beef and cabbage, and Burger King is giving away free fries with green ketchup.

And I learned about this one today, which I love: From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, anyone named Pat, Patrick, Patricia or Patty will qualify for a free appetizer at Newport Grill, 1900 N. Rock Road. That’s a good deal because Newport Grill has some great appetizers, including rock shrimp cigars. (A co-worker is crying name discrimination, but it’s all in good fun.) The Pats must show their IDs to participate.

Sadly, the only people I know who qualify are my favorite 4-year-old, Patrick, who doesn’t have an ID yet, and a lawyer I once hired, whose services I no longer need. Wait! There’s a nice lady in the advertising department. Maybe I’ll get her to take me. Or perhaps I can lure Patrick Dempsey into town.

I’m going to be a jerk tomorrow

The famous soda fountain, back in Otto's day.

That Mary Wright at Old Mill Tasty Shop. What a sweetheart.

She was so appreciative of the story I wrote about her restaurant’s 80th birthday a few weeks ago that she made me a very generous offer: The opportunity to  work for her for free.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow (Friday, March 16), biz columnist Carrie Rengers and I will be working as guest soda jerks at Old Mill Tasty Shop, 604 E. Douglas. I’m told this job entails mixing up drinks and assembling ice cream creations. How hard can it be?

Actually, I’m honored for a chance to give it a try. I learned so much about original owner Otto Woermke while researching my story that I think I’ll doubly appreciate a chance to work the counter he made famous.

Come see us.

Chick-fil-A campout: Tents, wind and pedestrians in the drive-through

A shot of the wind-blown tent city outside Chick-fil-A this afternoon.

Here’s the story I wrote this afternoon after visiting the ca-razy campers spending the night at Chick-fil-A.

The campers included people from Wichita as well as people from out of town, including some who follow Chick-fil-A openings like they were the Dave Matthews Band.

I saw kids playing on scooters, people constructing jigsaw puzzles on card tables inside their tents, and a couple studying for a test in the bright sun.

A couple of guys started a game of four square in the parking lot, and several were on air mattresses in their tents, snoozing the afternoon away.

The best detail I heard: To get their catered breakfast and lunch, campers lined up and walked through the drive through.

The Flying Stove: I’m a fan

It took me several weeks months to persuade the very nice guys who run The Flying Stove that I ought to write a story about them. They were reluctant participants, and my theory is that they are afraid that their burgeoning business will be overwhelmed.

But it’s kind of too late.

The food truck, which vends gourmet street food from a different parking lot every day, is so popular that lines are already extra long, and they sometimes run out of food.

The Flying Stove's amazing, super, addictive banh mi sandwich.

I stood in line last night at Riverside Park  just for one last chance at their amazing banh mi sandwich before the secret about their amazing culinary creations really got out.

Here’s the story I wrote for Friday’s paper about The Flying Stove, of which I am a huge fan.

If you find them over the next few weeks, be patient.

They’re just a few guys cooking in a truck, and anything they sell you is going to be well worth a little waiting.

Trust me.

Question of the week: Would you camp out?

A Wichita Chick-fil-Camper early this morning.

I suppose if your answer to my question of the week was “yes,” you’d be at Chick-fil-A right now and not answering my question. But I’m asking it anyway.

Would you ever, as 150 Wichitans were prepared to do this morning, camp out to be the first in line at a restaurant you love? Or is there no restaurant you love enough to sleep on a sidewalk?

If the answer is yes, which restaurant would you camp out for? And would you do it just to do it, or would there have to be an incentive, such as the free food for a year Chick-fil-A is offering?

Answer in the comments section below.

Chick-fil-A campout commences

Wichita campers

UPDATE: (6:50 a.m., 3/14)  Stand down, would-be Chick-Fil-A campers. Managers just told me that more than 100 people showed up at 6 a.m. to camp out, so they won’t be taking any more campers. Watch for my story from Chick-fil-A later today.

In just about 40 hours, CHICK-FIL-A WILL OPEN!!

Wichita’s first free-standing Chick-fil-A at Central and Rock, highly anticipated by fans of juicy chicken sandwiches, is scheduled to open at 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

But the Chick-fil-Craziness starts sooner.

The chain famously gives away coupons good for free Chick-fil-A food for a year to those who camp out to be the first in line. Between 5:45 and 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning, those who’ve gathered outside the restaurant all will be given a number. At 6 a.m., managers will draw 100 numbers. Those people will be invited to camp out until 6 a.m. Thursday morning, when they’ll be let in the doors and handed an envelope that contains their prize — the right to one free Chick-fil-A meal a week for a year. Campers have to stay in line for a full 24 hours or they forfeit the prize.

If 100 people haven’t joined the line by 6 a.m., managers will continue to accept participants until they have 100. A corporate spokeswoman said she’d let me know in the morning how long the line is.

Anyone planning to camp tomorrow? I’ll be there around 1:30 p.m. to interview you, so be sure your makeup and hair are looking their best.

Kansas’ oldest McDonald’s gets new look

The oldest McDonald's in Kansas just got a makeover, both inside and out.

McDonald’s restaurants across the United States are being remodeled in an ultra-modern way, and several of Wichita’s have already received the upgrade.

The latest to reveal its new look is the oldest McDonald’s in the state, which is at 1630 S. Hillside (the corner of Harry and Hillside). The restaurant will celebrate with a “grand re-opening” on Wednesday and specials that will run through the end of April.

The Harry and Hillside McDonald’s, said to be Kansas’ first, opened on Feb. 4, 1960. Today, it’s owned by Roy McCalla. Construction started in November, and the restaurant remained open throughout the process, ocassionally operating only its drive-through.

The brand new interior of the McDonald's at Harry and Hillside.

The new look is totally McModern and looks as though it was furnished by Ikea. I stopped in last night, and restaurant looks more like a coffee shop than a fast food burger chain. The red roof is gone, and the interior features tall bar tables and pendant lighting.

McCalla, who also operates the McDonald’s at 1643 S. Webb, is celebrating its remodel on Wednesday, too. Nine McDonald’s in Wichita and the surrounding areas have been or are in the process of being redone so far, and a new McDonald’s in Haysville is being built with the new design.

To mark the occassion, he’s offering through the end of April two Sausage Egg McMuffins for $3 every day, free medium fountain drinks with the purchase of an Angus burger on Saturdays, and $1.99 cheeseburger happy meals from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. The offers are good only at McCalla’s two McDonald’s.

Two beer dinners and a wine dinner

Three more chances to sample beer, wine and food for one price are approaching over the next couple of weeks.

On Thursday, Mike’s Wine Dive at 4714 E. Douglas is putting on a “Luck of the Irish” Bushmills Irish whiskey and beer tasting. It will start at 7 p.m. and will feature Irish hors d’oeuvres plus samples of several Bushmills whiskeys plus beers such as Smithwicks, Harp and Guinness. Admission is $30 a person, and reservations are required by calling 316-613-2772.

On Sunday, Bocconcini Italian Eatery at 4811 E. Central is offering a wine dinner that features five courses paired with five wines. The main entree course is a porcini rubbed filet with grilled asparagus and risotto, paired with an Allegrini Palazzo Delle Torre. It starts at 6 p.m. and is $65 a person. For reservations, call 316-613-2523.

Then, on March 27, Ya Ya’s at 8115 E. 21st St. is having a “Be Green” Anderson Valley beer dinner. The restaurant will offer five courses, each paired with an Anderson Valley beer. It’s $60 a person, and reservations can be made by calling 316-634-1000.

Where to eat like you’re Irish

St. Patrick’s Day is Saturday, and several restaurants are offering Irish-esque specials or meals designed to celebrate the day. I’m starting the list of them today and hope to have it complete by Friday. E-mail me if there’s a St. Patrick’s Day dining opportunity I’m missing.

Shamrock Lounge, 1724 W. Douglas: The bar will open at 9 a.m. Saturday for a breakfast of “Potatoes O’Dave” and Irish soda bread for $6. The Shamrock’s annual corned beef and cabbage dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 to 10 p.m. and is $7 a person. The Shamrock will have a courtside seat to the Delano St. Patrick’s Day parade at noon and will have bagpipers in the bar throughout the day.

Bierocks, Brats n’ BBQ, 1225 W. Douglas: The Delano restaurant will offer Rueben bierocks and Rueben sandwiches and corned beef and cabbage starting today, Guinness Irish stew and Bailey’s chocolate chip cheesecake starting on Wednesday and a pre-parade green eggs and ham breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 316-393-9580.

Pumphouse, 825 E. Second St.: The bar is putting on an event called Kegs & Eggs that starts Saturday morning with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, offered from 9 a.m. to noon. It’s $5, or for $20, patrons can get the buffet, a T-shirt and a wrist band that’s good for admission all day. Also planned for St. Patty’s Day at the Pumphouse: The Underhill Family Orchestra, a southern folk-rock band, at 1 p.m. and local band Faded from 5 t0 9 p.m. plus gallons and gallons of green beer. For more information, call 316-265-6080.

IHOP: On Saturday only, local IHOPs will serve a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast of green eggs scrambled with spinach, two pancakes, two bacon strips or pork sausage links.

Port of Wichita, 1548 S. Webb: The Port is serving a brunch of green eggs and ham at 11 a.m., along with corned beef and cabbage throughout the day Saturday. There will also be drink specials and live music from Uche, Bus Station Brown, Poultry in Motion and others.

Larry Bud’s Sports Bar, 2120 N. Woodlawn: In addition to  kegs of green beer, Larry Bud’s will be serving corned beef and cabbage, with appearances by bagpipers scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Heroes Sports Bar, 117 N. Mosley: Heroes is featuring corned beef, “Fighting Irish meatballs” and drink specials, with bagpipers expected to play about 6:30 p.m.

British Banger Company, 1713 W. Douglas: The restaurant, which serves British and Irish-style foods, will be open from noon to 3 a.m. on Saturday. After 5 p.m., entrees will be $5.

Piccadilly, 7728 E. Central: The restaurant will have corned beef and cabbage dinners for $10.99 through Sunday.

Walt’s Great American Sports Bar & Grill, 7732 E. Central: Walt’s is serving its traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner for $9.99 a person from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 316-691-8800 for more information.

Toni D’s, 650 N. Carriage Parkway: The restaurant is offering several St. Patrick’s day specials, including a corned beef and cabbage dinner with new potatoes and bread, Reuben sandwiches and decorated cookies. The specials are available 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and are available for eat-in or carry-out.

Mike’s Wine Dive, 4714 E. Douglas: Mike’s is putting on a “Luck of the Irish” Bushmills Irish whiskey and beer tasting at 7 p.m. Thursday. It’ll feature Irish hors d’oeuvres plus samples of several Bushmills whiskeys plus beers such as Smithwicks, Harp and Guinness. Admission is $30 a person, and reservations are required by calling 316-613-2772.

Newport Grill, 1900 N. Rock Road: The restaurant is offering a free appetizer from 11 a.m. t 5 p.m. Saturday to anyone who can prove his or her name is Patrick, Pat, Patty or Patricia.

Blarney Breakfast: The annual Blarney Breakfast, a fundraiser for Rainbows United, is scheduled for 6 to 9:30 a.m. Friday at Old Chicago, 7626 E. Kellogg. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children under 12 and can be purchased at Old Chicago east or at the door the morning of the event. For more information, call 316-721-8226.

Burger King: Wichita Burger Kings will be among those nationwide offering a free small order of fries with a side of green ketchup on Saturday and Sunday. Limit one per customer.