West side Metro Grill opens on Saturday, will serve late on weekends

IMG_0168Michael Gonzalez will open his new west side Metro Grill on Saturday, he said.

The chef, who also has Metro Grill III at the Waterfront at 10096 E. 13th, announced in early November that he would be taking over the old Bartelli’s Pizzeria spot at 10330  W. Central. Bartelli’s closed in September after 10 years in business.

The new restaurant will be similar to the Metro Grill that Gonzalez once ran in Andover but sold to a former employee in 2011. Instead of the upscale dining experience he offers at the Waterfront, the west side Metro Grill will have more of a casual atmosphere. Customers will order at the counter and will be served on disposable plates. It’ll have all the menu items Gonzalez is famous for, including his Cuban sandwich, Bob sandwich and more.

Gonzalez also said he’s going to experiment with late-night hours on the weekends, which is something the west side Wichita doesn’t have a lot of. He’ll be open from 11 am. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and from 11  a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

For more information, call the restaurant at 316-295-3265.

Metro Grill going into old Bartelli’s space

Metro Grill is expanding westward. Photo courtesy of Natasha Creasman.

I blog on a weekend only when the gravity of the situation merits it.

Moments ago, I was folding laundry when dining panelist Natasha Creasman texted me news of an exciting development. A sign in the old Bartelli’s Pizzeria spot at 10330  W. Central indicates that a Metro Grill will open there. Bartelli’s vacated the space in September after 10 years in business.

I immediately called Michael Gonzalez out at his Waterfront location at 10096 E. 13th St., and he confirmed it. Metro Grill will open in that space in about a month.

“The west side has said they want us for a long time,” he said.

The restaurant will have all his regular menu items, including his fabulous BOB and Cuban sandwiches. Customers will order at the counter, take a number and wait for their food to be delivered to the tables.

Gonzalez said he got a great deal on the space and couldn’t turn it down.

He also told me that he plans to start serving alcohol in his Waterfront location next week and will have a grand re-opening event. I’ll let you know more about that soon.

Gold star for Natasha.

Metro Grill in Towne East is closed

Gonzalez

***Brief update as of Tuesday morning:*** 

Michael Gonzalez’s manager at the Waterfront Metro Grill, 10096 E. 13th St., suite 122, stresses that it is still open, serving the same dishes that were available in the mall.

Gonzalez is in and out, he said, and he added that someone in Arkansas wants to buy the whole mall setup and open it there.

He promises to get me in touch with his boss as soon as possible for more details.
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I don’t want to tell you this any more than you want to hear it.

Metro Grill, the amazing sandwich-shop-in-a-cart that Michael Gonzalez opened in the Towne East Square food court in 2005, is closed. Towne East officials say it closed a couple of days ago but said any other details would have to come from Gonzalez.

My pal Natasha went there to eat this weekend and found a sign directing people to the Metro Grill at the Waterfront, 10096 E. 13th St., suite 122, which is still open. The sign in the mall indicated that the owner was moving to Arkansas, she said.

I haven’t heard back from Gonzalez, and folks at his restaurant at the Waterfront say they aren’t sure how to reach him. They expect him in the restaurant sometime on Tuesday.

I’ll keep trying to reach Gonzalez and will let you know what I find out.

In the meantime, a moment of silence, please, for the little cart that could. I’ll miss it.

Question of the week: Best food court fare?

Behold the beautiful honey walnut chicken, the specialty at Fusa

This week, I reviewed Fusa, a restaurant now operating on Greenwich that gained a following when it sold its amazing and honey walnut chicken at Towne East Square from 2003 until April of last year.

I never knew about that dish when the restaurant was in the mall, but if I had, it would have been in serious competition with my beloved Cuban sandwich from Metro Grill.

This week’s question: What’s your favorite local food court fare?

I always get hungry in the mall. Metro Grill is reason enough to wade into Towne East, if you ask me. And who can deny the deliciousness of a cinnamon sugar pretzel from Auntie Anne’s?

Let me know what your food court favorites are in the comments section below. (And since Fusa is now set up as its own mini-food court, honey walnut chicken still counts as an answer.)

Metro Grill III will open Thursday

With all due respect to the many sandwich artists in town, no one makes a better sandwich in Wichita than Michael Gonzalez.

The outspoken chef has a legion of fans in town, earned through years of making gourmet sandwiches and other dishes in the unlikeliest of places — out of a cart in the food court at Towne East Square that he called Metro Grill. By Thursday, he’ll have his latest restaurant open, this one in the Waterfront at 13th and Webb.

Metro Grill III is “the big one,” Gonzaelez likes to say. He’s had his share of personal and business drama over the past several years, which resulted in him selling his Metro Grill II in Andover to an employee — but this restaurant is the one he’s always wanted.

It’s in the former Chill Gelato Space at the Waterfront, 10096 E. 13th St. N., suite 122. Gonzalez has remodeled the space, adding a granite bar, a giant New York City skyline on the wall, and an open kitchen where diners can watch him work.

Michael Gonzalez

There’s seating for about 45 inside and a 16-seat patio outside. Gonzalez will be open for lunch and dinner daily except Monday and has several upscale dinner-ish items on his menu as well, including Pasta V.I.P., made with seared chicken and shrimp over linguine with pine nuts, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, arugula and asparagus, and his Steak Christopher. You can see the full menu here.

Customers order at the counter and servers will deliver the food to the tables and offer drink refills. Gonzaelz should have his liquor license within a month, he said.

He’ll have live, Frank Sinatra-esque music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. He also plans to have live music all day on Thursday, his official opening day.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. The restaurant can be reached by calling 316-631-1454.

“I want to thank Wichita for giving us so much support,” he said. “Metro Grill is back.”

Question of the week: What’s Wichita’s best sandwich?

Pho Hot's banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich made with grilled pork, herbs and veggies on a homemade French roll.

Thursday is National Sandwich Day, and I’m not making that up.

In honor of November’s second-most-important holiday, let’s talk sandwiches.

Which local sandwich is your favorite? I have a few, including Metro Grill’s Cuban sandwich, Tanya’s Soup Kitchen’s Milano and the Nancy’s No. 8, famously made by The Artichoke. I’m also a big fan of almost any locally produced banh mi — which are amazingly delicious Vietnamese sandwiches.

What are your favorite Wichita sandwiches?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Gonzalez sells Andover Metro Grill

Chef Michael Gonzalez

The Andover location of Metro Grill no longer belongs to founder Michael Gonzalez, the popular but recently troubled local chef known for his amazing sandwiches in the Towne East mall food court.

Early last month, Gonzalez sold Metro Grill II to employee Kevin McKee and his grandfather, Jim Boots. McKee started working at the Andover Metro Grill as an employee early this year.The restaurant opened at 321 S. Andover Road in January.

McKee, 22, says he will continue with the original menu but is considering some additions in the future. He describes himself as part businessman, part cook, and he said he’s excited about the opportunity to start his restaurant career.

“We have an incredibly strong repeat customer base here — people who come in two and three times a week,” McKee said.

Meanwhile, he said, Gonzalez continues to own and operate the Metro Grill in Towne East. I have a call in to him and will update this post once I speak to him.

Question of the week: Best Cuban sandwich

Cuban sandwiches very likely may be my very favorite sandwiches. When they’re done right, they’re served on crusty bread with roasted pork, ham, yellow mustard, sliced pickles and melty Swiss cheese. Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Lately, Cubans are getting more popular in Wichita. Sabor, Granite City, Metro Grill have had versions for a while, and when Tanya’s Soup Kitchen introduced its new menu, a Cuban was on it. This week, I stopped by Planet Sub and sampled the very delicious Cuban sandwich they’re perfecting before adding it to the menu.

In your opinion, who has Wichita’s best Cuban sandwich? What makes it so good?

Oh, no. And furthermore, sigh.

The Infamous BOB.

Though I’d rather not, I feel it’s my duty to direct your attention to the bad/sad restaurant news Carrie uncovered yesterday.

I hope it all gets resolved soon, not only for the sake of the people involved but also for the sake of sandwich fans in Wichita and Andover.

The final word on Metro Grill II

Michael Gonzalez is about to open his Metro Grill II, as evidenced by the yard sign marketing campaign popping up. The answer to the question on the sign is that the Infamous BOB is a sandwich made with chicken, arugula, tomatoes, a huge hunk of fresh mozzarella, all served on toasted, crunchy bread.

The man himself, Michael Gonzalez, called me on Friday to let me know that he will definitely, 100 percent for sure be opening Metro Grill II at 321 S. Andover Road in Andover on Feb. 7, which is one week from today.

He’ll serve his Metro Grill menu of amazing sandwiches, pastas and other entrees from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Gonzalez

On Sunday evenings, he’ll do reservation-only gourmet dinners, starting with a pair of special Valentine’s Day dinners next weekend. On Feb. 12 and 13, he’ll serve a five-course meal and allow couples to bring their own wine with no cork fee.

Hours for the Valentine’s meal are 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday (when he’ll stray from normal hours and close to the general public) and 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call 316-807-5229.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I’m doing a story for Friday’s paper about special meals and dinners being offered around town. Let me know if you’re aware of any I might miss.