Monthly Archives: November 2012

Charleys Philly Steaks opens in Towne East on Monday

Towne East Square’s newest food court addition –  Charleys Philly Steaks – opens when the mall does on Monday morning.

Steve Nussbaum is opening a franchise of the Columbus, Ohio- based chain in a spot in the main food court center circle that previously was occupied by a restaurant called The Big Easy.

The chain has about 450 restaurants around the world. Most of them are in malls, but several are located on military bases as well. There’s a Charley’s Grilled Subs at McConnell Air Force Base.

The chain specializes in Philly cheese steak sandwiches and also is known for its fries and lemonade.

Nussbaum, who is married to Wichita Eagle publisher Kim Nussbaum, said he and his staff know that they’ll be facing a busier-than-normal opening week, considering it’s the height of Christmas shopping season at Towne East.

“We’ve been training to get ready,”  he said. “We’ll be good.”

New food truck an ode to lost sister

Mel’s Diner is named after the late Melody Webb, who was planning the food truck with her brother when she died.

UPDATE: Mel’s Diner’s opening was delayed. It now will open on Thursday morning in front of Convergys at 7236 E. Harry.

A new food truck will join Wichita’s growing fleet on Monday when Doug Gibson and his fiance, Donna Johnson, open Mel’s Diner.

Gibson had been planning the business for months with his sister, Melody Webb. But early this month, Melody suffered a massive heart attack and died in the hospital a few days later. She was 55.

Gibson still wanted to see his sister’s dream business take to the road, though. “We decided to carry on,” he said.

The new food truck, which will operate out of a cargo van fitted with a service window, will serve grilled sandwiches, soups and breakfast items. Among the specialties: broccoli cheddar soup and French toast made with Frosted Flakes. It’ll open weekdays for breakfast and lunch and will be set up mostly on the west side, Gibson said. They’ll also do special events around town.

“We want to do a better alternative to what they call ‘Roach Coaches,’” Gibson with a laugh.

Gibson will setup a Facebook page for the truck in the next day or so, and it will announce the truck’s location each day.

I’ll update this post when they pick their opening day spot and get the Facebook page up.

Wichita “Restaurant Week” planned

Now this is a cool idea.

The  Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas is teaming up with Go Wichita and the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association to put on a “Restaurant Week” in Wichita. They’re planning it for June 21 to 30 and hope to get 25 local restaurants involved.

Restaurant Weeks are big deals in big cities, where many of the more expensive, trendy, hard-to-get-into restaurants agree to spend a week offering prix fixe meals to participants. A prix fixe (price fixed) meal is a set, multi-course meal that costs one price. About 30 big cities around the country, including Dallas, New York and Chicago, put on popular Restaurant Weeks. I attended a Restaurant Week dinner at a fancy place in Dallas years ago, and it was memorable. (Even though I can’t remember the name of the restaurant I visited. Ha.)

Restaurant Week won’t be quite the same animal in a smaller city like Wichita, but it could still be fun and offer Wichitans an excuse to try places they haven’t been to. Though organizers haven’t signed up any participants yet, they’ll ask restaurants on the list to donate 10 percent of each meal back to the Boys & Girls Club.

I already know who I’d put on a dream list. The new Siena Tuscan Steakhouse  that will open in the Ambassador Hotel in December has to join in. Harvest Kitchen/Bar inside the Hyatt should, too. I could see Luciano’s on this bill as well as some of Wichita’s ethnic restaurants such as Pho Hot Bistro and Taqueria El Paisa. Maybe this would be a good way for Lakeside Club and Candle Club to lure potential new members, too.

The organizers have promised to keep me updated as plans progress. I’ll keep you updated, too.

In the meantime, let me know which restaurants you think should participate in a Wichita restaurant week. Tell me in the comments section below.

Counter Culture Christmas has food, music, shopping

Master of Meatloaf Don Lucero will try out his catering skills at the Douglas Design District’s Counter Culture Christmas event.

The Douglas Design District — the folks responsible for October’s Food Truck Rally — have another event planned that involves tasty treats.

Counter Culture Christmas will be from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at Karma Konnections, 1123 E. Douglas, and Lucky’s Everyday, 1217 E. Douglas. The afternoon will include gift shopping at local vendors, and live music from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Karma Konnections and from 8 p.m. to midnight at Lucky’s Everyday. Among the performers on the bill: Brook Blanche, A.J. Gathier, Rudy Love, Jordan Dee Minnis, Lacey Cruse and Whaddya Moe.

The event will also include free light appetizers prepared by Don Lucero, who’s the chef at Via Christi hospital on Harry and the two-time winner of the Make-A-Wish Loaf-Off, an annual fundraising meatloaf competition. Lucero is starting his own catering business on the side and will provide items such as fruit kabobs, veggie pinwheels and pulled pork.

For more information, call 316-425-7337.

Donut Whole “cooking” the good stuff

Those of you who love AMC’s “Breaking Bad” as much as I do will no doubt be racing me to the Donut Whole in the morning.

Look what they just posted on their Facebook page: 

Southside restaurant adds round-the-clock weekend hours

Cathy’s Westway Cafe, the diner that took over the space at 1214 W. Pawnee in August after the short-lived On the Fly Family Restaurant closed, is going to start experimenting with 24-hour weekend service starting on Friday.

Owner Cathy Hetterscheidt, who’s operated several restaurants around town, including the former Cathy’s Diner at 206 E. Kellogg,  said that there’s a demand for dining among the third-shift working crowd, especially between 2 and 4 a.m. She’s had several customers ask her to provide it, she said.

Her new hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Then, she’ll open at 6 a.m. on Fridays and remain open until 2 p.m. on Sundays. The restaurant specializes in breakfast dishes and items such as country fried steak.

Hetterscheidt also is planning a benefit event on Saturday for Rylee Spears, an 8-year-old Goessel girl who was seriously injured in a rollover car accident in August. The restaurant will put on a car and bike show in the parking lot all day on Saturday and will serve hot dogs and hamburgers. There’s a $5 entry fee for those who want to show their cars and bikes, and trophies will be awarded. Entrants can register the day of the show.

For more information, call the restaurant at 316-260-8787.

Schwarma truck on hold till January

Melad Stephan

Local diners are pretty excited for Melad Stephan’s schwarma truck to join the fleet of mobile food businesses in Wichita.

But they’re going to have to wait a little longer. Though he initially said he’d open the mobile Mediterranean food court this fall, Stephan now says he’s going to have to put it off until January.

He’s just too busy trying to open Revolution Rock Bar, which he’s putting the former Air Capital Grill/Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill at 233 N. Mosley. He plans to have that business open sometime next week. It won’t serve food but will be open for drinks Wednesday through Saturday evenings, he said. He’ll use the restaurant’s kitchen to work on catering jobs.

He has the truck, Stephan says, but he’s working on getting it painted and outfitted. His son, Jordan, will run it along with a local chef who Stephan is not ready to name yet. The truck will serve chicken and beef schwarma, falafel, hummus, fries, fattouch salads and more.

I’ll update you when Stephan settles on official dates.

Kansas gets McRib back early

Kansas really, really loves the McRib — that here-today-gone-tomorrow McDonald’s sandwich that is much of a pop culture phenomenon as it is lunch.

The McRib — a pork patty topped with slivered onions, dill pickles and barbecue sauce on a toasted bun — won’t return to most McDonald’s menus across the country until mid-December. But because customers in Kansas love the sandwich so much, a local representative told me, we got it early.

They reappeared last week and will stick around until the end of January.

Tacos y Mas replaces La Posada

Back in 2000, the restaurant at  552 S. Oliver was known as Posada Del Rey.

In 2002, a new owner took it over and kept mostly the same menu but renamed it La Posada.

Now, the restaurant has a new owner, a new name — Tacos y Mas, which translates to “tacos and more.” But it still has mostly the same menu.

The new owners took over about four months ago. They previously operated a taco truck nearby also called Tacos Y Mas. When they took over La Posada, they kept mostly the same menu of tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and more but eliminated several dishes, including those that were made with seafood.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. For more information, call 316-612-1188.

Wichita restaurants open on Thanksgiving

Here it is: Our annual list of restaurants open and serving on Thanksgiving Day.

It’s the usual list of hotel buffets, family buffets and turkey dinners offered by 24-hour breakfast places with an upscale, plated meal thrown in for good measure.

As a bonus, I also have a list of restaurants that are willing to smoke or fry your turkey and bake your ham for you to serve at home.

Make reservations on all of the above as soon as you can.

Now, let’s all pause to give thanks for those who will do our holiday cooking work for us.