Category Archives: Restaurant remodeling

My Tho is famous — and still closed

The new issue of Food Network Magazine, which is on newstands now, features a local sandwich: My Tho’s delicious banh mi. (Just take a look at the story and click on ‘KS.’)

The issue names one fabulous sandwich from each of the 50 states, and My Tho’s banh mi — featuring sliced, grilled pork, sliced fresh jalapeno, fresh cilantro, pickled julienne carrots and daikon, soy sauce and black pepper stuffed into a crusty French baguette – represents Kansas. The magazine even has a pretty picture of the colorful sandwich.

Unfortunately, those who haven’t tried the sandwich will have to wait a little longer. Delay after delay has kept My Tho at 500 E. Central, which closed for a big remodeling project in June, from reopening on time. Owners hoped to reopen last week, but now, they’re saying they need one or two more weeks because a new dishwasher and a soda dispenser have yet to be delivered.

Last year, Wichita Pizza Co’.s taco pizza was featured in a similar story in the magazine.

My Tho closed through June for remodel

Those in the know about pho often can be seen slurping at My Tho, the unassuming but awesome Vietnamese restaurant at 500 E. Central — right at the corner of Central and Emporia.

But they won’t be seen there for a while. My Tho is closed and will remain so at least through the end of the month while the owners do some remodeling.

They’re redoing the floor, replacing the ceiling and cleaning up the part of the restaurant that’s held old pool tables and other junk so that they can add more tables and expand the dining room.

The work should take about three more weeks. I’ll let you know when the My Tho reopens.

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.

Bella Vita expansion is complete

Lory Wooley, left, Crystal Prud Homme DeLodden and head chef Adrian Prud Homme DeLodden.

Bella Vita Bistro, the Italian restaurant that’s one of West street’s best-kept secrets, just finished an expansion that’s added a bar and 32 more seats.

Owner Lory Wooley, who along with her daughter, Crystal, and Crystal’s chef husband Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder, opened Bella Vita in early 2010, took over the space next door formerly occupied by a nail salon and spent the past six weeks feverishly remodeling it.

The expansion, which doubled the size of the restaurant to 2,400 square feet, will allow it to cut down on sometimes long weekend-night waits,

“We were turning too many people away,” Wooley said. “I hated to do that.”

The expansion also will give Bella Vita the ability to host small events such as business meetings and wedding rehearsal dinners.

In other Bella Vita news: The restaurant is putting on a special plated New Year’s Eve dinner, which will include five courses for $50 a person. It’s taking reservations now.

Bella Vita Bistro is at 120 N. West St. For more information, call 316-941-4500.

Hank is so wise, he’s adding barbecue

Hank is Wiser Brewery, a well-regarded family-owned brew pub that’s operated in Cheney since 2005, is in the process of creating  a menu that will include all sorts of barbecue offerings, including ribs, brisket and more. Founder Hank Sanford and his brewer son, Steve, acquired a smoker and at the moment are perfecting their rubs and sauces. They hope to have the new menu launched by the end of the year or early in 2012.

They’ve also been busy remodeling the restaurant, an upgrade that’s adding 1,000 square feet to the space at 213 N. Main in Cheney. This summer, they also added a patio out back.

A bottle of Sam Adams Utopias.

Hank also told me recently about a rare offering he has in his brewery that will appeal to beer aficionados. He carries Sam Adams Utopias, which he says is the strongest beer brewed in the United States. The alcohol contest of Utopias is around 27 percent, and it costs between $13 and $18 an ounce. Hank has the Utopias from 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. Very few businesses carry the beer, Hank said, and he believes his may be the only place in Kansas.

Hank is Wiser Brewery is open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays and from 5:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 316-542-0113.

Passage to India to reopen in new space this week

Passage to India co-owner and chef Kuldip Singh.

Passage to India, the popular Indian restaurant that has been closed since Oct. 16, should reopen by Friday of this week in a newer, fancier space.

Owners have been working for a week to move the restaurant from the cavernous space it has occupied for the past eight years at 6140 E. 21st St. to a space at 6100 E. 21st St. formerly occupied by Golden Dragon restaurant. The new location, which is in the same strip center, is a bit smaller, said Kam Singh, son of operator and co-owner and chef Kuldip Singh, but it’s been completely remodeled and will offer a more upscale environment. “We wanted to make it more of a fancy restaurant,” he said. “Everything is new in there.”

When Passage to India opened in 1994 , it was Wichita’s first Indian restaurant. This will mark the restaurant’s third move in its 17-year history.

Its famous buffet will remain the same but the set menu will change a little and will include more vegetarian and vegan items.

The hours will be 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the buffet Tuesdays through Sundays, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Two restaurants that were closed but not “closed”

Longtime customers of two Wichita restaurants might have noticed that they were closed down during normal business hours last week. But DON’T PANIC! Both had good reasons for being closed, and both are now back in business.

La Galette, the cafe and bakery at 1017 W. Douglas that’s run by the Abdayem family, is reopened today after a 12-day closing, during which the owners took a summer vacation. (They deserve it, don’t they? The place has been open for 25 years!)

Sumo by Nambara, the hibachi grill at 11233 E. 13th St. N. that also is one of Wichita’s best sushi spots, reopened Saturday after closing down for five days while managers redid the kitchen floor.

Now, no other restaurants need to be closing without checking in first. Hear?

Update on The Anchor’s hours, menu, remodel plans

The Achor's door announces its intermediate intentions.

I sat down for a chit-chat this morning with Anchor owner Schane Gross and her new chef, Doug Pitts, to talk about the changes underway at the bar and restaurant at 1109 E. Douglas. More changes are coming.

Here’s a breakdown:

Hours: As Gross and Pitts work to resolve service issues and decide what they want The Anchor to be, they’ve temporarily altered the hours. They had been closed on Mondays and Sundays, but now, they’ve reopened on Mondays. Sunday hours will return eventually, and Pitts will serve a Sunday-only brunch. Look for that in the next six weeks or so.

Menu: Several weeks ago, Gross and Pitts streamlined the previous menu, keeping customer favorites and eliminating what they described as “redundancy.” The current menu has about 30 items — appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads and other favorites. On June 27, Pitts will add daily dinner items to the menu, including a steak frites. He also will add several items to the core menu and will begin offering a streamlined after-10 p.m. bar menu, which will feature appetizers and a couple of burgers. Gross and Pitts also are trying to focus on more local, seasonal ingredients and have begun offering products from Yoder Meats.

Remodel: Gross says she finally has bids and is working on getting the banks lined up so she can break ground on her remodel. She’s changed her plans from when she originally announced last year. The wall separating her two dining rooms will remain, she said. The west side of the restaurant will lose its bar and serve exclusively as a dining room. The east side will be the bar area. Though she doesn’t have specific dates yet, Gross hopes the remodel will be underway before summer’s over. She still plans to annex the space just east of the building for a banquet hall.

Gross said she’s send me the completed menu in the next couple of days, and I’ll post it then.

Grandson revamping Doc’s Steak House

In yesterday’s Dining with Denise newsletter, I answered a question from a reader named Jay, who wanted to know if Doc’s Steak House, 1515 N. Broadway, was any good.

I vented to Jay that numerous calls to the new owner of Doc’s had gone unreturned, so I didn’t have an answer.

Today I can report that my call was returned!

New owner Brian Scott was alerted by a friend who saw my answer in the paper. He dialed me up this morning and apologized for not getting back to me, explaining that his single-handed revamping of his family’s restaurant — which opened in 1952 and was owned by his grandfather, Louis Scott, and then his uncle, Stuart — has been a 24-hour-a-day labor of love. He hadn’t had much time for phone calls.

Over the past several months, Scott has replaced the roof, all the flooring and all the signage at Doc’s. He’s added television sets and also is revamping the menu. He’s now serving Choice steaks, the second-highest quality of beef after Prime. He also has introduced a new line of sandwiches as well as a list of daily lunch specials that includes items such  as pork chops and hamburger steaks served with a salad, drink and a side.

Brian also has decided to start opening the business on Sundays. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays.

He has more changes planned, too, but in the meantime, his 13 cousins are just happy he’s willing to try to reinvent and revive the family business. “It’s meant a lot to the grandkids, for sure,” he said.

By the way, I frequently get e-mails from people asking me for the recipe for Doc’s famous garlic salad. Doc’s won’t share the recipe, and I don’t blame them, but we ran this one — which a reader claims is very close — back in 2003. Enjoy.

GARLIC SALAD

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoons McCormick garlic salt
2 tablespoons tomato juice
1 head lettuce
1 cup grated carrots and radishes
Garnish: Sprig parsley, radish roses, paprika
Crackers (Club or Ritz are recommended)

Mix mayonnaise, garlic salt and tomato juice. Refrigerate.

Remove outer leaves and core from head of lettuce (outer leaves can be washed, drained and used to line salad plate or bowl).

Chop remaining lettuce into dime-size pieces to fill 6 cups. Line a colander with paper towels, place lettuce in colander and top with more paper towels. Press down on lettuce to extract moisture. Remove lettuce from colander and place in plastic bag lined with more paper towels. Refrigerate several hours. Grate carrots and radishes and pat dry. Refrigerate.
Just before serving, toss chopped vegetables with dressing. Mound salad in bowl or plate and garnish with parsley, radish rose, and paprika. Serve with crackers.

A whole new Heroes

This is what Heroes looks like without carpet.

Heroes in Old Town has been closed since Sunday while workers pound away on a half-million dollar remodel. New manager Jason Fisher had hoped to be ready to re-open this afternoon, but things got behind, as they tend to do.

If all goes well, though, he’ll be ready to open at lunchtime on Friday. When customers re-enter, they’ll find a new-and-improved Heroes, complete with a carpet-free concrete floor (better for sloshed beer absorption), new standup drink bars and brand-new booths and bar stools.

A new, expanded patio should be ready to go by Cinco De Mayo (May 5), and Fisher and Co. also are working on adding 19 new items to the menu, including bierocks, enchiladas, salmon and several new salads.

I’m going to inspect the new menu sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll report back. All I can say is that Fisher BETTER leave my buffalo chicken pizza right where it is.

I’m kidding. Kind of.