Author Archives: Denise Neil

Stroud’s should reopen in early August


Stroud’s general manager Kevin Allis inspects the damage done by a kitchen fire at Stroud’s.

The return of Stroud’s and its family style fried chicken dinners is still about three weeks away, general manager Kevin Allis said this morning.

The restaurant at 3661 N. Hillside had its kitchen damaged in a fire last week, and it has been closed ever since.

The staff is now cleaning up and assessing the damage, which Allis said could have been much worse.

“When we got in there and saw the daylight on it, it really wasn’t that bad,” he said.

The big question is whether the kitchen’s custom hood was too damaged to be repaired. If it wasn’t, Stroud’s should be able to reopen the first week of August. If it was, it’s going to be longer because the hood must be custom-made, Allis said.

When the fire broke out at about 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Allis said, he was at home. He got an alert that a burglar alarm was going off and headed for the restaurant. On the way, he started getting multiple text messages telling him that Stroud’s was on fire. Apparently, the burglar alarm sounded when fireman broke in the door to battle the blaze, he said. It took firefighters more than two hours to get the fire out.

Initially, it was thought that an employee had left a burner on, but Allis said all the burners were turned to the “off” position. He suspects a pilot light malfunction.

Stay tuned for information about Stroud’s reopening. You also can follow along on the Stroud’s Facebook page, where Allis is posting pictures and updates.

New restaurant in Delano will focus on ‘Eastern Cuisines’

The old Lotus Leaf space on west Douglas will soon be home to Eastern Cuisines.

The old Lotus Leaf space on west Douglas will soon be home to Eastern Cuisines.

A new restaurant is moving into the space that Lotus Leaf vacated in March when it moved to 251 N. Washington in Old Town.

Tumaini Kilangwa, a native of Tanzania, Africa, says she will open Eastern Cuisines in the space at 613 W. Douglas on Aug. 11.

The restaurant will serve breakfast and a lunch buffet that focuses on foods native to countries such as Africa, England, Ireland, India, Italy and the Philippines. It will include items such as rice pilaf, samosas, noodle dishes and kabobs. She’ll also have meat pies, beans, vegetables and many styles of potatoes.

Once open, the restaurant will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for Saturday. The buffet will end at 3 p.m. each day, but pastries and coffee will be available until close.

Kilangwa, who moved to Wichita in 2000, said she’s been doing catering from home while saving up her money to open a restaurant — and building her own confidence.

I’ll let you know more as the opening date draws near.

Fans of Thai Smile not smiling today

thai smileFans of Thai restaurant Thai Smile are definitely NOT smiling this morning.

The restaurant’s owners announced on Facebook on Saturday that it was closing for good. “Unfortunately we cannot keep opening for personal reasons,” the post read.

It also said that if owners could find a way to reopen the restaurant in the future, they would.

Last summer, owner Sakunphan Pongphan moved the restaurant from its original spot 1524 S. Seneca to a bigger location at 1601 E. Pawnee, the former Li’l Mexico building.

When it first opened four years ago, Thai Smile was called Thai Five.

Wichita restaurants will be on Travel Channel

Two local restaurants will be featured on national television next week, and one is putting on a watch party to celebrate.

Public at the Brickyard, the gastropub at 129 N. Rock Island in Old Town, and Jet BBQ at 1100 E. Third St., both will be featured Wednesday in back-to-back episodes of a Travel Channel show called “BBQ Crawl,” which features host Danielle Dimovski, a Canadian barbecue champion, traveling the country, competing, and sampling ‘cue.

The episode featuring Public is on first at 9 p.m. and is called “Bison, Beer and BBQ.” During the episode, Dimovski stops in to try Public’s buffalo sliders. Then, at 9:30 p.m., an episode called “Firehall Q, Cattle Auctions and Strawberry Banana Cake” features Jet BBQ and owner “Jet Man” John Thien giving Dimovski a tour in his signature fire truck.

The watch party starts at 8 p.m. at Public, which will offer $2 drafts and food specials. For more information, call Public at 316-263-4044.

Watch this trailer for a preview to the episode featuring Public and keep watching to see the Jet BBQ episode preview.

Which Wichita restaurant do you miss most?

RIP, Red Beans

RIP, Red Beans

Several longtime restaurants have shut down recently, including the 20-year-old Yen Ching at 430 N. Rock Road and Golden House, which closed at 504 S. Broadway after 16 years in business.

And as of Thursday, Red Beans Bayou Grill at 7447 W. 21st St., which has been in business since 1998, also is history.

All these closings beg the question: Which restaurants-gone-by do you miss most?

I’m collecting nominations.

Let me know in the comments section below or on my Dining with Denise Facebook page which former Wichita restaurant you wish was still around, and what specifically do you miss about it?

It can be any restaurant, whether it closed yesterday or 80 years ago. Just share as many details as you can. I’ll post some comments in Go! on July 25.

Second Wings & Things opens on Saturday

2mwl1.SlMa.80I reported back in May that a second location of Wings & Things, the restaurant owned by football star and Wichita native Kamerion Wimbley and his aunt Valerie Mitchell, would open this summer, and the day arrives on Saturday. The new restaurant is at 331 W. 31st St. S. and just like the original at 2800 E. Central, it specializes in wings with several sauce choices, catfish, burgers and more. It also will have the same hours as the original Wings & Things, which opened a year ago: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m.t o 8 p.m. Sundays.

To celebrate the grand opening of the new store and the original store’s first birthday, both restaurants will offer specials daily from Saturday through July 20. Customers can get 75-cent wings, $5 cheeseburger and fries baskets and $5 one-piece catfish baskets. For more information, visit

Endless appetizers, bottomless fries and other very filling promotions

UntitledIt’s the age-old question: How many loaded potato skins CAN you eat?

If you have $10 and a flexible attitude about calories, you can find out.

TGI Fridays, which has a Wichita restaurant at 2441 N. Maize Road, is offering “endless appetizers” until Aug. 24. Customers pay $10 and can get all the refills they can stomach of garlic and basil bruschetta, Mozzarella sticks, boneless buffalo wings, Tuscan spinach dip, crispy green bean fries and pan-seared pot stickers. (Be warned: If you start with potato skins you must stick with potato skins. No traveling through the menu allowed.)

I do love boneless wings, but all-you-can-eat deals and buffets are something I generally try to avoid. I always have a nagging feeling that I should eat more because, you know, I CAN. But if I do, I’m sorry for hours, maybe days. Bottomless steak fries at Red Robin? Unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks at Olive Garden? Sounds delicious. But really, I shouldn’t.

If only Red Lobster would revive its all-you-can-eat crab legs promotion, I’d make an exception. But I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.

New Italian restaurant Albero Cafe about ready to go

IMG_0473I’ve been getting a frenzy of e-mails from College Hill-ians noticing that the new Albero Cafe, which is going into the former Bocconcini building at 4811 E. Central, is about to open.

This morning I stopped by and talked to Hassan Ballout, who said opening day for his Italian restaurant is still almost two weeks away. He hopes to have the restaurant ready to go the week of July 21.

Ballout, who worked for 10 years at nearby Bella Luna Cafe, has remodeled the space, adding new flooring, new tables and chairs and a fresh coat of paint. It looks and smells brand new, and it’s bright and open.

He also has his menu ready to go. It features flatbreads, salads, panini sandwiches and pasta dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, Italian sausage penne and shrimp scampi. Entrees included grilled grouper, grilled salmon, strip steak, chicken Parmesan and eggplant Parmesan. The restaurant also will offer several Italian sodas and will have a liquor license.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

I’ll let you know when Ballout settles on a firm opening date.

Red Beans closing Thursday, auctioning off decor next week

logoAs word has leaked out that Red Beans Bayou Grill at 7447 W. 21st St. will close at the end of business on Thursday, people have been swarming in for a last taste of jambalaya, etouffee and pork loin Thibideaux, said owner Bill Rowe.

Rowe, who has owned the restaurant since he bought it from founder Richard Waite in 2008, said that the Cajun/American restaurant is “just doing okay.” But his Blue Moon Caterers is doing more than okay.

“My catering company is just exploding,” he said. “I’ve more than tripled my sales since 2000, and it deserves all the attention I can give it.”

The Red Beans building lease was up, Rowe said, so rather than renew, he decided now was a good time to close the restaurant and focus on Blue Moon.

Richard Waite  (left) and Rick Jeffrey, just as they were about to open Red Beans in 1998.

Richard Waite (left) and Rick Jeffrey, just as they were about to open Red Beans in 1998.

Waite and some partners opened Red Beans in 1998. Rowe previously had owned  Willie C’s Cafe & Bar.

Next week, Rowe said, he will be auctioning off the wild Cajun decor that hangs in the dining room as well as the kitchen equipment.

The decor auction starts at 9 a.m. Monday at the restaurant and will include all the colorful items on the walls, including stuffed fish, animals and a stuffed boar’s head. Rowe says he also has an extensive beer can collection that might be worth something.

The kitchen equipment auction is at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

For more information, call 316-721-4100.

Donuts a la mode? Donut Whole adds ice cream to offerings

A Donut Whole doughnut serve a la mode.

A Donut Whole doughnut serve a la mode.

The Donut Whole at 1720 E. Douglas is known for its colorful and crazy donuts, from maple bacon to fruity-pebble covered. Earlier this week, owners Michael Carmody and Angela Mallory added a new dimension to the 5-year-old business: ice cream.

Customers now can get the Donut Whole’s donuts topped or sandwiched with chocolate or vanilla ice cream made by Paleteria La Reyna, the Mexican ice cream shop and restaurant at 2925 Arkansas. The shop is serving donuts a la mode, doughnut sundaes doughnut ice cream sandwiches and ice cream mix-in treats.

The Donut Whole also can serve shakes mixed with any flavor of milk tea, smoothie and coffee syrup flavors it has on hand, offering possibilities such as a Thai tea milkshake, a coffee milkshake, a maple spice milkshake and more. For more information, call 316-262-3700.