Category Archives: Restaurant remodeling

Larkspur adding banquet room next door

The old Bliss-fullness space at 910 E. Douglas will soon hold a second Larkspur banquet room.

The old Bliss-fullness space at 910 E. Douglas will soon hold a second Larkspur banquet room.

Ty Issa is adding a second banquet room to his Larkspur restaurant in Old Town.

The space should be ready by July 1 and will occupy the space at 910 E. Douglas that Bliss-fullness Custom Cakes and Pastries vacated when it closed in November.

Shauna Sphar, who is in charge of Larkspur’s catering and banquets, said that the restaurant stays pretty busy with its 80-seat Phyllis Diller Banquet Room, which is on the north side of the building.

The new space, which will be connected to the restaurant by a door, will seat about 50 and will allow the restaurant to run two events at once. It would be perfect for business meetings, reunions, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners and more, Sphar said.

The restaurant needs help coming up with a name for the new banquet room, though. The Phyllis Diller room was named because of the paintings by the late artist that decorate its walls. Issa and Sphar want a classy name for the banquet room, she said. They thought about the Sterling Room because of the Sterling Silver meat it serves. But another facility in town already is using that name.

Sphar said that the restaurant is accepting suggestions on its Facebook page. If they choose your suggestion, you’ll receive a dinner for two at Larkspur.

My suggestion: The Metro Room, after my favorite Metro salad at Larkspur. (Sounds better than the Pistachio Chicken room.)

Several Wichita Subways have touch-screen drive-throughs

The Subway downtown at Kellogg and Broadway just finished undergoing a big remodel, and when it reopened, it included something amazing and futuristic: A touch-screen drive-through kiosk.

Today, my colleague Annie Calovich and I ventured over to test it out.

The kiosk replaces the regular drive-through completely. Customers drive up and, if they manage to get close enough, roll down their windows and start pressing buttons. The computer takes them through the entire ordering process and allows them to choose whether they want a sandwich or salad, which bread they want, which veggies they want, whether they want to add chips and a drink and more.

There are buttons to indicate if extra banana peppers are desired, for example, or just a little less mayo. And customers also have the option of paying with a credit card at the kiosk or paying at the window.

It’s fun, for sure, though it tends to flummox those unfamiliar with the self-serve world. We managed to get through and to the front in just a couple of minutes but saw others struggling. A staff member came out to help when it got to be too much for one car.

The kiosks also are in place at the Subways at Pawnee and Broadway, 1-135 and Hydraulic, Central and West, Park City and Goddard.

Ziggy’s Pizza adding more dining space

Ziggy's Pizza will almost double its dining capacity with this addition.

Ziggy’s Pizza will almost double its dining capacity with this addition.

Ziggy’s Pizza, one of my most favorite pizza places in Wichita, is about to get roomier.  The notoriously tiny restaurant in Clifton Square, 3700 E. Douglas, soon will almost double its indoor dining space.

The restaurant is in the midst of expanding to an empty space to its north, which will give it the ability to add 30 seats and accommodate large groups — something it hasn’t been able to do since opening in February.

The work should be done in another month or so, owners say.

Wichita Starbucks remodels continue on West Street

new-starbucks-logoThe next Wichita Starbucks to get a remodel job is the one at Kellogg and West.

That store, whose official address is 583 S. West St., will be closed to walk-in customers starting on Sunday, a Starbucks spokeswoman said. The drive-through, however, will remain open from 5 a.m. to noon Monday through Jan. 13.  The drive-through will resume normal hours on Jan. 14, and the interior should reopen the week of Jan. 19.

The remodel will fill the store with new furniture and an updated look.

Both the Starbucks at 21st and Maize and at Central and Rock have already undergone updating. Starbucks stores generally are remodeled every 10 years.

Wichita’s Paneras candidates for drive-throughs

Drive through bagels? Brilliant.

I don’t often get an occasion to drive to Derby, but this might just change that.

I recently found out — thanks to my observant deskmate Annie Calovich –that the year-old Panera at 1500 N. Rock Road in Derby has a drive-through. Panera is one of those restaurants I’ve always thought needs a drive-through, along with Chipotle.

Derby’s drive-through was the first in Kansas and one of the first in the country. Managers say it has worked out well and made the restaurant pretty popular.

The news made me wonder of any Wichita Paneras were candidates for drive-throughs, and Eric Cole, the vice president of operations for the group that runs our local stores, said they were. Though he doesn’t have details or dates to share, he said that owners were “working on doing some retros in the Wichita market to make some stores in to drive-throughs.”

I’ll keep you updated when I found out more.

Now, let’s work on Chipotle.

Texas Roadhouse’s addition meant to cut down on the wait

The Texas Roadhouse wait staff will dance while you dine.

That Texas Roadhouse amazes me. I’m almost certain that there has not been a moment since the restaurant opened in 2005 that it hasn’t had a line of people waiting for a table.

It might be the steak. It might be the line dancing wait staff. It might be the permission to throw peanut shells on the floor.

It’s probably the yeast rolls they serve before the meal.

Whatever it is, the Texas Roadhouse at 6707 W. Kellogg took steps last weekend to cut back on that wait, though a manager admits that the plan has failed so far.

The restaurant just opened a new addition on its east side that provides for about 50 more seats. The addition was meant to help with wait times, which on weekends can top out at two hours, and to give the restaurant the possibility of having a private banquet room. But over the weekend, the waits were no shorter, and the addition was filled up. See? Amazing.

For now, the addition is open Thursday through Sunday evenings. Managers say they’ll likely open it nightly starting in a few weeks.

As for those waits, customers are advised to employ the restaurant’s call ahead seating. Those who want to eat at 7 p.m., for example, can call 316- 943-8722  and put their name on the list at 5:30 on a weekend night. By the time they arrive, the wait should be minutes rather than hours.

Old Chicago restaurants in Wichita being remodeled, rebranded

Old Chicago restaurants across the country are getting a makeover, and Wichita’s three locations are next.

Remodeling already has started at the local Old Chicago restaurants — which are at 300 N. Mead in Old Town, at 7700 E. Kellogg,  and at 2240 N. Tyler — and will be done in a couple of weeks.

When complete, each of the three restaurants will have a new, modern look and outdoor signage. The restaurants even will have new names — sort of. Instead of Old Chicago Pasta & Pizza the restaurants now will be known as Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom.

It’ll be high-tech, with digital screens showing when various beers were tapped and who in the restaurant is checked in on FourSquare.

The “rebranding” is intended to freshen up the look and approach of the restaurant chain, which started in 1976 and now has 96 locations in 22 states. Everything from the utensils to the plating of the food to the vintage decor on the walls, says “modern brewery” rather than “classic sports bar.”

The new Tavern thin crust pizza at Old Chicago

So far, the chain has launched the new look in three of its restaurants: two in Colorado and one in Minnesota. Topeka and Kansas City stores also are getting the new look.

Several new menu  have already been added to coincide with the new look, including panini sandwiches, new calzones and salads and “Tavern” thin crust pizzas.

The Old Town location will be ready to go on March 11, followed by the west-side restaurant on March 12 and the east-side on March 13.

First remodeled Carlos O’ Kelly’s in Wichita will reopen on Friday

The new Carlos O' Kelly's logo

Carlos O’ Kelly’s, the 30-year-old Mexican restaurant chain that’s headquartered in Wichita, is “rebranding” its restaurants, giving them an all-new look and a new menu.

On Sunday, the restaurant at  4872 S. Broadway closed down, and crews have been hard at work changing everything — booths, tables, carpet, paint, decor, setup. The result is a more modern-looking restaurant that even has new signage, featuring a multi-colored chili pepper.

“It’s very different,” president Jon Rolph said of the new look. “It opens the place up. And it’s a lot less cluttered as far as the decor goes.”

The under-progress interior of the remodeled Carlos O' Kelly's at 4872 S. Broadway.

That restaurant will reopen on Friday featuring a menu that has several new items, including a Cantina burger topped with chili con queso, sauteed onions, bell peppers, bacon and fried jalapeno bites. There are also brisket tacos, grilled fish tacos, seafood enchiladas and more. The chips and salsa will remain the same, and most of the restaurant’s most popular dishes remain unchanged.

A Carlos O’ Kelly’s in Lincoln, Neb., will be the next to be made over. Owners hope to have all 39 Carlos O’ Kelly’s, including the four in Wichita, redone within four years.

Wichita’s other three Carlos O’Kelly’s are at  7703 E. Douglas, 527 S. Ridge Road Circle and 3025 N. Rock Road.

Usuluteco Restaurant will double in size

A plate of pupusas, photographed by Andrew Gough

The pupusa business is good.

It’s so good that Usuluteco Restaurant, the popular El Salvadoran restaurant at 1714 E. Northern, near Hydraulic and Wassall, is about to double in size.

Owners have taken over and remodeled the space next door, which will increase the restaurant’s capacity from 49 to 100. The new spot is ready to go, but the owners are still waiting to clear up some red tape with the city. They hope to start using the space sometime in mid-November.

Pupusas, for those who don’t know, are dense, handmade corn tortilla shells stuffed with various meats, cheeses, beans and roasted peppers, then grilled.  They’re amazing and should be consumed regularly. You can read all about the restaurant in Wichita Eagle Dining Panel member Andrew Gough’s review, which ran in July.

Usuluteco’s hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.  For more information, call 316-409-3820.

My Tho will reopen next week

My Tho, the popular Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central, finally has a reopening date, and owners say it is definite for sure this time: Sept. 4, which is a week from today.

The restaurant, which has been closed since June for sprucing and remodeling, will have new floors, new ceilings and more seating in the area of the restaurant that previously held pool tables.

Everything is finished, but Sept. 4 feels like a lucky day to the owners, their son said. It’s a Tuesday, and the restaurant is normally closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But during the first week back, they’ll be open both Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, they’ll resume the old hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays.

For more information, call 316-262-5452.