Restaurants we’ve loved and lost

Why'd you have to close, Albert's? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?????

Why’d you have to close, Albert’s? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?????

Tis better to have eaten and lost than never to have eaten before.

Or is it?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to tell me the names of the Wichita restaurants of the past that they miss most.

I got hundreds of responses, and nearly 200 restaurants were named.

I tallied up the top vote getters and listed them here. See if your favorites made the top 10.

Hint: Everyone wants Angelo’s back.

‘Bring Back Angelo’s’ page proves dream is not dead

1891510_10153862285925082_435862122_oThe dream of reopening Angelo’s is no closer to reality than it has been since the beloved restaurant closed in 2006. But that isn’t stopping a growing group of its still-dedicated fans from dreaming — and campaigning.

A Facebook group called Bring Back Angelo’s to Wichita,” started in March by Alan Martin, a dedicated Wichita native, has 128 members and counting. (To sign up, search Facebook for “Bring Back Angelo’s to Wichita” and click “join” at the top of the page.)

Martin, who now lives in Olathe, said that every family birthday and special event was celebrated at Angelo’s when he grew up. He even worked at the Angelo’s that operated at Central and Tyler when he was in high school and college. Martin said he started the page hoping to build interest and inspire potential investors to step forward.

On the page, former owner Jack Fasciano, whose parents, Angelo and Anna, opened the original Angelo’s in the 1950s, often shares memories of the restaurant. More important, he offers members of the group access to a little project he’s been working on for the past few years: selling take-and-bake versions of Angelo’s famous pizzas, manicotti, sausage and meatballs, plus the pickled eggplant that made the salad bar sing, out of his house.

Back in 2012, Jack and his daughter, Gina Fasciano Hogan, started talking about reopening the restaurant. They even tentatively made plans to move into the space at Douglas and Oliver that eventually was taken by The Hill Bar & Grill. The plan didn’t work out, but it didn’t die completely. Fasciano says that it could still happen if the family can find an investor with a lot of “monergy” — that’s money and energy.

Angelo’s, which was known for its pizza, lasagna and manicotti, was long one of Wichita’s favorite restaurants and had several locations over the years. When the last one at 1930 S. Oliver closed in July 2006, it ended a 46-year-run for the restaurant.

Recently, Jack Fasciano authored a post in the Facebook group about the restaurant’s famous matchbooks, bearing the colors of the Italian flag. (I’m pretty sure I still have several of these hanging around my house.) I enjoyed reading it and thought you would, too.

Here’s Jack’s post:

Read More »

An update on Angelo’s planned reopening

Jack Fasciano with one of his amazing pizza

Several readers have written me lately to ask about the progress on the reopening of Angelo’s, the onetime popular Italian restaurant that closed in 2006

In June, Jack Fasciano, son of the restaurants founders, revealed that his daughter, Gina Fasciano-Hogan, planned to reopen the business in the former Barrier’s building at Douglas and Oliver in College Hill.

I called Gina this week for an update, and… there really isn’t one, she said.

The plans are still in the works, she said, and it still looks like they’ll get the Barrier’s building. Nothing has been signed yet, though, and Fasciano-Hogan said the process has all taken much longer than she thought it would.

I’ll update you when there are developments.

Also, I hesitate to share this with you out of fear you will die of envy, but a couple of months ago, I was able to talk Jack Fasciano out of one of the Angelo’s pizzas he now makes at home for friends. I shared it with co-workers, and it was just as good as we remember.

The secret, I think, is the homemade sausage that comes raw on the frozen pizza. As the pie cooks, the sausage juices absorb into the crust, and the results…. Mama Mia!

If Angelo’s happens, it will have parking, owners say

A waitress delivering plates of Angelo's goodness back in 1999

After I posted my story about Gina Fasciano-Hogan’s plans to try and reopen her family’s business — iconic Wichita Italian restaurant Angelo’s — in the former Barrier’s spot at Douglas and Oliver, the online comment-a-palooza began. (Of course it did.)

Some commenters claimed to be moved to joyful tears by the news. Many offered words of support. And several articulated one big concern: that the Barrier’s lot would not have adequate parking for the business.

I spoke with both Gina and her father, Jack Fasciano, this morning. If the deal for the space works out, the landlords have offered several possibilities, but all of them include more parking than the single strip that runs alongside the east side of the building, they said.

Fasciano-Hogan is planning a smaller restaurant that would seat between 36 and 40. It’s possible that the Barrier’s building would be split in half and the restaurant would use only part of it, leaving the other side open for a retail business.

It’s also possible, she said, that the back part of the building could be taken off, making room for more parking. The landlord also owns some duplexes on the property that sits to the south of the building, and some of those could be torn down to make way for parking.

Since it’s all still preliminary, Fasciano-Hogan said, nothing is for sure — except that there’d be enough parking for her customers. “That was one of our biggest concerns when we talked to them,” she said.

Angelo’s may reopen in old Barrier’s spot

Gina Fasciano-Hogan chats with a customer on the restaurant's final day in business in 2006.

Jack Fasciano’s daughter, Gina Fasciano-Hogan, is looking to reopen her family’s business, the once popular Angelo’s, in the former Barrier’s building at Douglas and Oliver in College Hill.

Fasciano-Hogan, who grew up working in the restaurant, has partnered up with friend Carrie New, and if everything works out, the restaurant could be reopened within six months, Jack Fasciano said.

The popular family-owned Italian restaurant, known for its pizza, lasagna and manicotti, closed the last location of the restaurant at 1930 S. Oliver in July 2006 after operating in Wichita for 46 years. Fasciano, the son of the restaurant’s founders, had run out of money and couldn’t keep the restaurant afloat. The bank froze his accounts just before he closed.

After the restaurant closed, Fasciano said, he went into a deep depression and said he didn’t leave the house for a couple of years. Then, people started asking him if he would make his famous pizzas and manicotti, which he’s been doing monthly out of his home for a growing list of about 45 friends.

He started thinking he should get the business going again and was looking for a partner when his daughter approached him. She’d been making cupcakes out of her home, mostly for the Blessed Sacrament community. Her children are now 9 and 13, and she told her father she was ready to revive the family business.

Fasciano-Hogan and New are taking entrepreneurship seminars at Wichita State University and are talking to investors. It’s still early in the process, but they have big plans for the building. Fasciano says he’d be involved, working at the restaurant and consulting.

“She’s really interested in getting it going,” Fasciano said of his daughter. “She’s really working hard at it.”

The restaurant would be called Angelo’s and would serve all the old favorites. It’d also offer Italian pastries, take-and-bake pizza, pizza by-the-slice and quick prepared lunches. The restaurant would have patio dining, too.

Jack Fasciano’s parents, Angelo and Anna, got their start making pizzas out of the basement of their home in the late 1950s. Sicilian-born Angelo, who worked at Boeing, would sell the pizzas to co-workers. They became so popular that he opened a small restaurant on South Laura in 1960.

The family moved the restaurant to a building near Harry and Hillside in 1961, then moved to a location across the street in 1976.

Customers loved the distinct pizzas, the salads with the pickled eggplant, and the homey pasta dishes.

The restaurant grew in popularity and expanded. At one point, five Angelo’s were operating across the city. The family also had restaurants in Andover, Hutchinson and Tulsa. Anna Fasciano died of complications from diabetes in March 2004. Angelo died a year later, in March 2005.

Jack Fasciano said when the restaurant closed that he hoped to revive it some day, preferably as a neighborhood mom-and-pop spot. He described the College Hill location as “gold.”

Edible memories

Ah, the Innes Tea Room -- a place where tired shoppers could don their white gloves and break for a lovely lunch. It's one of many restaurants Wichitans have said they miss.

Ah, the Innes Tea Room -- a place where tired shoppers could don white gloves and break for a lovely lunch. It's one of many restaurants Wichitans have said they miss.

The biz team has been dreaming for a few days now about restaurants Wichitans wish they had, which got me to thinking about one of my favorite topics — restaurants Wichitans wish they STILL had.

Back in 2004, I did a story about long-gone but beloved Wichita restaurants, and reporting it had a lasting effect on me. For months afterward, I wished I could invent a culinary time machine so I could — just once — taste the lamb shank at Cafe Chantilly or wear white gloves while nibbling little sandwiches at the Innes Tea Room.

Other restaurants readers mentioned: Albert’s, Pasta Mill, the Looking Glass, Hickory House, Mr. Dunderback’s and more.

What gone-but-not forgotten restaurants do you most  miss? (I’m sure we all can agree to add Angelo’s to the list now.) Let’s start a discussion in the comments.