Iconic nude painting stolen from Wichita’s Candle Club; reward offered

The only part of the missing painting we can show you

The only part of the missing painting we can show you

Anyone who’s ever visited the Candle Club men’s room has seen the painting.

A woman wearing nothing but a pink hair ribbon and some jewelry reclines, a jug of Chianti and two goblets resting beside her.

The painting was an acquisition by Ted Werts, the founder of the private supper club at 6135 E. 13th St N. It hung on the wall of the men’s room since at least the late 1970s or early 1980s, said John Fitzhum, the current general manager of the club.

But sometime late on the Friday night before Thanksgiving, the painting disappeared.

Initially, Fitzhum said, he thought it was a prank. Many members over the years have joked that they wanted to steal the painting, he said.

“But now that it’s been two months, I don’t think it’s a prank,” he said.

No one at the club’s front desk noticed anyone leaving with the painting, so Fitzhum theorizes that someone grabbed it, left the restroom through its back entrance and sneaked out through an often-vacant party room.

Longtime members are not amused.

The painting was a piece of Candle Club history and one of its best conversation pieces. Some members are even asking Fitzhum to have a reproduction made.

Fitzhum said he just wants the painting back, no questions asked. He’s even willing to put up a $275 reward, he said.

If he gets it back, he vows, the painting will be affixed to the wall quite solidly.

“People are really angry that it’s gone,” he said. “It’s been there 30 years at least.”

Wichita “Restaurant Week” planned

Now this is a cool idea.

The  Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas is teaming up with Go Wichita and the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association to put on a “Restaurant Week” in Wichita. They’re planning it for June 21 to 30 and hope to get 25 local restaurants involved.

Restaurant Weeks are big deals in big cities, where many of the more expensive, trendy, hard-to-get-into restaurants agree to spend a week offering prix fixe meals to participants. A prix fixe (price fixed) meal is a set, multi-course meal that costs one price. About 30 big cities around the country, including Dallas, New York and Chicago, put on popular Restaurant Weeks. I attended a Restaurant Week dinner at a fancy place in Dallas years ago, and it was memorable. (Even though I can’t remember the name of the restaurant I visited. Ha.)

Restaurant Week won’t be quite the same animal in a smaller city like Wichita, but it could still be fun and offer Wichitans an excuse to try places they haven’t been to. Though organizers haven’t signed up any participants yet, they’ll ask restaurants on the list to donate 10 percent of each meal back to the Boys & Girls Club.

I already know who I’d put on a dream list. The new Siena Tuscan Steakhouse  that will open in the Ambassador Hotel in December has to join in. Harvest Kitchen/Bar inside the Hyatt should, too. I could see Luciano’s on this bill as well as some of Wichita’s ethnic restaurants such as Pho Hot Bistro and Taqueria El Paisa. Maybe this would be a good way for Lakeside Club and Candle Club to lure potential new members, too.

The organizers have promised to keep me updated as plans progress. I’ll keep you updated, too.

In the meantime, let me know which restaurants you think should participate in a Wichita restaurant week. Tell me in the comments section below.

A chef’s secret, shared

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Crystal and Brian Mangers

I’ve never had a non-interesting experience at the Candle Club, and last night was no exception.

I was invited by my foodie friend Bill Pearce, who’s a member of the dimly-lit, throwback supper club at 6135 E 13th St N., to come try some of the  items new Chef Adam Courtney has added to the menu.

He’d also invited Uptown Bistro’s executive chef Brian Mangers, who brought his very fun wife Crystal. Crystal has an affinity for unusual foods, and at her request, our dinner included frog legs and a big, huge plate of chicken livers, which she enthusiastically drowned with Tabasco before gobbling down.

Then, Brian and Crystal shared an (I’m assuming) little-known food fact: The best chicken innards  in town, they say, are the fried chicken gizzards served at Jezebel’s, an “ahem” gentelman’s club at 4520 E. 47th St. south.

“I would shut my eyes and go to Jezebels just for the gizzards,” Brian said.

See? Never not interesting at the Candle Club.