Category Archives: Restaurant memories

Wichita restaurant history: Golden Chance Steak Saloon

A reader named Faye e-mailed the following question to me recently. And since this question meant I would get to take a trip to our secret paper archives stash on the fourth floor, I was excited to investigate it.

“Do you remember a restaurant in the ’60′s named Golden Chance Restaurant? It was in south Wichita and required a coat and tie and if one didn’t have a coat, their tie was cut and hung around on the wall.  Where was it located?”

I didn’t live in Wichita — or at all — in the 1960s, so this restaurant didn’t sound familiar to me. But I located the archive file on it, and it’s pretty interesting.

The restaurant was owned by Carl Murrell. He originally opened the Golden Chance Steak Saloon in the early 1960s in a development on what’s now west Kellogg called Frontier Village. He moved the restaurant to 4205 S. Seneca in 1962 and closed it in 1971. He opened another Golden Chance Steak Saloon at 4423 S. Broadway in 1984, but I don’t know how long that one lasted.

He was known for snipping the ties of his customers and hanging them on the wall. The articles I read from the archives seemed to indicate, however, that he cut all ties — not just the ties of the coatless. Several diners were not amused.

I love Wichita restaurant history. Check out this article — interesting but a little hard to follow — from the Sept. 10, 1963 edition of The Beacon. Click on it to make it big enough to read. And thanks, Faye, for the fun assignment.

An article from 1963


Is Doc’s Steak House haunted? Local blogger thinks so

Late last night, when my house was all dark and the weird, shifty noises that come along with a 100-plus-year-old house started, I came across this very scary restaurant video.

It was made by local foodie Tony Brueski, an afternoon disc jockey at KFDI, who also runs a pretty schmancy food blog called

The video focuses on Doc’s Steak House at 1515 N. Broadway, one of Wichita’s oldest restaurants. It opened in 1952 and is famous for its garlic salad. In the video, Brueski interviews Doc Steak House’s current owner, Brian Scott, grandson of founder Louis Scott. Last year, Scott took over the restaurant and remodeled and revamped it.

Tony Brueski

He and Brueski have decided, it seems, that the strange shadows and weird noises Scott occasionally hears while he’s alone in the restaurant might JUST be coming from the ghost of his grandfather, who apparently likes to smoke under the creepy staircase in the creepy basement.

Brueski is hoping to make a whole web series of videos about haunted restaurants, which he’ll call “Haunted Restaurants: Back for Seconds.”

“I have a passion for both food and ghosts, so this brings it all together,” Brueski told me.

He also has a fun video about the unhaunted Wichita Food Truck, The Flying Stove, on his blog.

Check both the videos out, but I’d advise doing so during the day.

What Chinese food is most like Albert’s?

This photo from the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Society shows Albert's in 1954,

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two unrelated people ask me the same question — and I don’t have the answer. I’m wondering if you can help.

Both people were fans of Albert’s, the Chinese restaurant at 6425 E. Kellogg that operated in Wichita for 54 years but closed for good in the summer of 2001. They both wanted to know which local Chinese restaurant served food most comparable to Albert’s.

I didn’t move to Wichita until late 1997, and although I remember seeing Albert’s often, I never made it there. So even though I have a good handle on the Chinese food scene in Wichita, I couldn’t say whose food is most similar. I do know that people who went to Albert’s back in the day are split. Some say it had the best food ever, no doubt influenced by several tablespoons of nostalgia. Others say the food was not exactly great and that those who think it was are influenced by several tablespoons of nostalgia.

Anyone have thoughts on this? And can you help me come up with an answer for these mourning Albert’s fans?

By the way, if you’re interested, keep reading. I’m posting Dan Voorhis’ story that was published when Albert’s closed in 2001.

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Sorry about that, Savute’s

This photo from 2000 shows current Savute's owner, Pete Savute, left, working alongside his father, John, who died in a plane crash the following year.

On Friday, I published a story about the sudden surge of Italian restaurants in Wichita, and toward the end, I listed some of Wichita’s longtime Italian eateries.

But several readers have pointed out that I failed to mention Wichita’s oldest Italian restaurant. (Possibly its oldest restaurant, period.)

Savute’s at 3303 N. Broadway has operated in Wichita for 67 years. Current owner Pete Savute’s grandparents, immigrants from Italy, opened it in the early 1940s.

Many people still love Savute’s — its steaks, spaghetti and meatballs, and the adjoining Stick N’ Rudder Club, which features salvaged airplane seats as chairs.

I certainly did not mean to overlook such an institution. Read the story I wrote about Savute’s and its storied history when it turned 65 in 2009.

Another tour of old restaurant pictures

I just can’t resist. Why do I love old pictures so much? Why am I so obsessed with restaurants that existed before my time? Why am I asking the Internet all these questions?

I have even more pictures coming next week. Don’t worry. I’ll exhaust this topic soon.

The Pasta Mill was a favorite of some of my co-workers until it closed in 1994. It operated right across the street from the Eagle, where Emerson Biggins is now at 808 E. Douglas. It's considered the first Old Town restaurant, having opened in 1988.

The Lassen Restaurant and Lounge was a Wichita favorite until it closed in the late 1990s, and owners Kevin Brown and Tracy Fahrbach went on to open Cibola in Bradley Fair. This shot is circa 1997. The beautiful space at 155 N. Market soon will be home to a new restaurant called Italian Bistro.

This is amazing. The first Boston Chicken Restaurant (which looks as though it was a precursor to Boston Market) opened west of the intersection of Central and Tyler in September 1994. Things have kind of changed since then, no?

Remember when The Spice Merchant served lunch? I do. They stopped in 2004.

Boston Pizza was one of the earlist restaurants in Old Town. It opened in 1994 at 242 N. Mosley, where Egg Cetera is now.

Taste of Italy, which opened in 1994 at 217 E. Douglas, offered one of Wichita's pioneer pizza buffets. Seventeen years later, the space is notorious for holding restaurant after restaraunt that doesn't last long. The latest victim was Onyx Bistro.

The Famous was a restaurant and bar at 1401 E. First that served its last customer in 1997. Pictured here is owner Jim Helmick. There's now a car dealership at that address.

Richard Waite and Rick Jeffrey in Red Beans, just before they opened it in 1998. Red Beans is still open at 7447 W. 21st St., but the owners are different.

Wichita’s dining past in pictures

Remember when Willie C's was the place to be? This lady was bemoaning a possible restaurant smoking ban in 1996.

While rifling through our archives this morning for a picture of Chateubriand, the once-famous Wichita steakhouse that operated for nearly 20 years until it closed in the mid-90s, I came across a gold mine.

Though I didn’t find a picture of Chateubriand, I did find old photo after old photo of Wichita restaurants. Some are still in business, and I found pictures of them on the eves of their openings. Others are long gone, forgotten by some, missed by others.

I thought it would be fun to share a few with you. I’ll start with some of my favorites today and share some more next week.

I love old pictures! Old pictures of Wichita restaurants are even better. (You can click on any of these to make them bigger.)

By the way, if anyone has a picture of Chateubriand in your archive, I will buy you lunch! Also, if you have any classic restaurant pictures, I’d love to see them. E-mail them to me.

I couldn't love this one more. Scott Redler, who today keeps himself busy opening Freddy's Frozen Custards all over the country, is captured sitting in Timberline at 21st and Tyler in July of 1997, just a few days before it opened.

In this shot from June of 1994, Youssef Youssef (now owner of Mediterranean Grill at 335 S. Towne East Mall Drive), busies himself cleaning up tables just after Le Monde opened at 602 N. West St.

Portobello Road was out of business before I moved to Wichita. It operated in the Rock Island Depot building, 711 E. Douglas. It had previously operated since 1973 at 504 S. Bluff but was torn down to make way for Kellogg expansion. It served steak and seafood.

Ahhhh! Does anyone remember the old Truffles restaurant in the Wichita Art Museum? Here are operators Julie Fowler and Denise Fowler in 1996.

I also love this one so much. It shows Ashok Aurora in September of 1994, just as he was about to open Passage To India, which now operates at 6140 E. 21st St. N. Pretty sure they're still using those tables and chairs!

Question of the week: Restaurants we’d miss most

My visits to Joplin's Red Lobster were always a highlight of my year when I was a kid.

The Joplin tornado got me waxing about restaurants I grew up visiting as a kid that hold a special place in my childhood memory.

Both Red Lobster, where I always went with my grandpa, and Fred & Red Chili survived the storm, I was happy to learn.

There’s no doubt that a long list of Wichita restaurants hold similar sentimental value for people here. This week, I want to know which local restaurants have special places in your personal history? Which ones have sentimental value that goes far beyond what the kitchen puts out?

Answer in the comments section below.

Waiting for news on Joplin’s finest dining

Fred & Red was (is??) at 1719 S. Main in Joplin.

I’m back from a little weekend adventure in Joplin that I’d rather not relive ever, ever again.

And now that I am back and coming down from the ordeal, my mind keeps drifting to Joplin. My mom grew up there, and as a kid, I spent every Thanksgiving and much of my summer visiting all my grandparents and aunts and uncles there.

Even as a kid, restaurants were important to me. I lived in Dodge City, where the arrival of Applebee’s in the mid-1990s was beyond huge dining news. So I considered Joplin to be the ultimate fine dining destination. At my insistence, every single trip there included a visit to Red Lobster, where I’d eat cheesy biscuits until I couldn’t move. My grandpa — he died a few years ago — always paid the tab.

My parents also were big on Fred & Red Chili, a greasy spoon diner that, sort of like NuWay, had just a horseshoe shaped bar for seating. (Anthony Bourdain featured in in an episode of “No Reservations” earlier this year.)

Fred & Red specialized in chili, specifically chili poured over tamales and chili poured over spaghetti. The spaghetti concoction is called “spaghetti red” and my mom made it for dinner all the time when I was growing up. “Can’t remember a time they were not there,” my mom said in a text message last night. “Dad says 50 or 60 years.” Actually, Fred and Red opened in 1923 and moved to its Main Street location in 1943. Mom and dad hadn’t even been born.

I’ve scoured the internet today and am getting conflicting reports about whether Red Lobster or Fred & Red survived. I so hope they did.

I also got a kind note yesterday from Scott Redler, one of the founders of Freddy’s Frozen Custard. He knew my family was from Joplin, and we’d often talk about how much he liked it there. (He once had a Timberline in Joplin as well.) The Joplin Freddy’s was destroyed in the storm, though none of the employees or customers were hurt.

I’ll update this post when I get a firm answer on Red Lobster and Fred & Red.

*Update: I just got a response from a Joplin-ite on a Facebook forum, who says Red Lobster is standing. She saw it with her own eyes. Yay!

**Update No. 2: Helpful blog reader TJW pointed me to this picture, which clearly shows Fred & Red still standing. It’s to the right in the frame below. You can recogize the sign. Whew!

Fred & Red is visible on the right of this picture. It's still standing!

Question of the week: What are your Larkspur memories?

A restaurant can’t thrive in a city for 20 years without creating a few memories for its residents.

Maybe it’s because it’s right across the street from where I work, but I have more than a few personal memories associated with Larkspur, which is celebrating 20 years of business starting this year. (Read my hot-off-the-editor’s-desk story about Larkspur here.)

I bid professional farewells to more than a few fabulous co-workers in that restaurant, including former symphony writer Chris Shull and movie reviewer Bob Curtright.

I watched my best friend Jaime’s new boyfriend (now husband) serenade her at Larkspur’s grand piano one night a few years ago.

I have spent countless lunch hours eating Metro salads and tirimisu by the window with Bonnie, and I let more than a few tears flow into my Sauvignon Blanc under the protective wisteria ceiling of Larkspur’s beautiful patio.

I know I’m not the only one. What are some of your best Larkspur memories? Share in the comments section below.

Happy birthday to Larkspur

Ty Issa has owned Larkspur for the second half of its 20-year life.

I spent my morning with Ty Issa across the street at Larkspur, reminiscing about the long run his popular downtown restaurant has had. They’re starting their 20th year of business this month, which is quite a feat for any restaurant.

To celebrate, Ty is putting on a customer appreciation party from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19. The event will be on the patio and in the banquet hall, and he’ll have free appetizers, drinks and music.

My dining story for this Friday will be about Larkspur’s big birthday, so before I went to visit with Ty this morning, I dug up the restaurant review we published when it first opened back in 1992. Very few of the original dishes remain, but it was a fun read. Plus, my late friend Diane Lewis wrote the review, and I can hear her voice in it. Thought you all might enjoy it. Keep reading.

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