A fall bumper crop of new restaurants

El Agave Mexican Restaurant is just a couple of weeks away from opening at 3320 N. Rock Road.

With all that Kansas State Fair food sampling I’ve been doing, my “Comings & Goings” list got a little out of date. So over the past few days, I’ve dialed and driven and dialed and driven to gather a list of updates on restaurants scheduled to open during the next few months.

Some are delayed, but some are so close to opening, I can almost smell the new food goodness. Here’s a quick look at what I learned:

CherryBerry Self Serve Frozen Yogurt, Central and Maize: The signs are up, but the new CherryBerry yogurt shop is still several weeks from opening because of trouble with the electrical system in the building. Look for a late September/early October opening. And if you’re having trouble waiting, there are about – oh – 325 other frozen yogurt shops in town that will ease your pain.

El Agave Mexican Restaurant, 3320 N. Rock Road: The exterior is ready, and now workers are getting the interior ready for an opening, which is just two or three weeks away.The space that El Agave will occupy most recently held Top China Buffet.

The Jaded Pearl, 1716 E. Douglas: I saw Michael Carmody at Zoobilee, and he told me he and partner Angela Mallory are just a few weeks away from opening their new tea shop. He’ll have an exact date when he gets back from Winfield.

Wasabi, 3242 N. Rock Road: Owners say the second Wasabi should be open in the old Bossa Grill space by the middle of October.

Joe’s Old Town Bar and Grill,
222 N. Washington: Owner Charlie Badeen says this sister pub to Dudley’s and O’Brien’s should be ready to go at the end of October.

A.V.I.,
Broadview Hotel, (late October/early November). Ben Arnold still hopes to get his new restaurant inside the newly remodeled Broadview open by the end of October, but a problem with an elevator on order from Canada may push it back to early November, he said.

Fusa, 303 S. Greenwich: Plumbing issues have pushed the opening of this Asian restaurant, which owners are relocating from Towne East Mall, back several months. It could be late November before it’s ready.

I also have calls in about U Grill, the restaurant that’s supposed to take over the former Linkhaus space at 37th and Rock, and about the new Brazilian churrascaria/chop house Tad Fugate has planned for the Ted’s Montana Grill space at 21st and Tyler. I’ll update this post when I know more.

The chef shuffle explained

Shuffle-y chef Adam Courtney, soon-to-be of A.V.I.

This week’s dining story focuses on what I like to call the “chef shuffle,” which happens a lot on Wichita’s restaurant scene.

Our city has a small community of talented local chefs, who always can be counted on to cook good food — then go cook good food somewhere else.

In short, they like to move around, always on the lookout for the best opportunity and the most freedom to cook the kind of food they want to cook.

Hurry up and read it before one of the chefs featured moves and makes my story untrue!!!

Cafe Comotara is open, and here’s the menu

Ben Arnold opened his new Cafe Comotara today in the former Chelsea’s space at 2949 N. Rock Road, and I have the menu here if you want to take a peek.

It’s huge and features several salads, some pasta dishes (including Pad Thai), burgers, sandwiches and entrees such as ahi tuna, blue-cheese crusted filet and a bone-in pork chop.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. He plans to add weekend breakfast sometime in October, and the restaurant is available nightly for rental. It fits private parties of 90 or fewer.

Take a close look at the menu because it features some of the items Arnold plans to include when he opens A.V.I. in the newly restored Broadview next month.

Arnold to open former Chelsea’s space for lunch, breakfast

Ben Arnold

Ben Arnold is a busy guy.

The owner of Corporate Caterers, who set up shop  in the former Olive Tree banquet hall last spring, now is planning to open a lunch and breakfast spot in the adjoined former Chelsea’s space, which until recently was occupied by the Karma wellness studio.

By mid-July, he plans to start serving upscale daily lunches and weekend breakfast. He’ll also reopen Chelsea’s famous patio, which he plans to have covered.

In the evenings, he’ll use the space for private events that aren’t quite big enough to use the cavernous banquet spaces next door. He’s still working on a name for the new place.

In the meantime, Arnold is waiting for construction to start on A.V.I., the restaurant he and Jeremy Wade have planned for the new Drury Plaza Broadview Hotel.

Initially, he’d hoped it would open this month, but construction is behind, and crews won’t even start working on the restaurant for a couple of weeks.

Arnold says his expectations for A.V.I. have been scaled back a bit, mainly because he was not able to get the exterior entrance he was planning on. And hotel restaurants that don’t have exterior entrances famously get lost.  He will, however, have plentiful exterior signage for the restaurant, which will take up north end of the hotel facing Waco.

One point of contention Arnold did win: Initially, the hotel wanted to require restaurant patrons pay for parking, but Arnold managed to work out a deal for his customers to get free garage parking along with hotel and banquet guests.

The restaurant will be gorgeous, though, Arnold said, with a horseshoe bar that overlooks the dining room from upstairs. The kitchen, he noted, will be located directly below the swimming pool.

A.V.I. should open in late August or early September. He’s planning the opening to coincide with the hotel’s grand opening, which should happen 60 to 90 days after the hotel reopens. That tentative date is July 20.

New restaurants in 2011

Chef Jeremy Wade will call his new downtown fine dining restaurant A.V.I.

The story I’ve written for this Friday’s Go! section is one of my favorite stories to write each year. It’s a list of all the restaurants we know about that will open in Wichita during the course of the year.

I discovered a lot of interesting things while reporting this one, including the fact that chef Jeremy Wade and his partner Ben Arnold have chosen a name for their fine-dining restaurant that will open in late May or early June in the newly renovated Broadview Hotel. They’re calling it A.V.I., and if you want to know why, read Carrie’s explanation.

I also learned from the local franchisee of Five Guys Burgers and Fries that the downtown plan is still on, though he can’t say exactly when or exactly where Wichita’s third Five Guys will open.

Take a look at my list and start thinking. The question of the day, which I’ll post this afternoon, deals with this very important topic.