Two Wichita restaurants say “We’re still here”

ZWL6W.SlMa.80Two Wichita restaurants are reminding longtime customers that they’re still in business. One is battling incorrect rumors. The other is battling inconvenient road construction.

Earlier this week, I heard from Ruben’s Mexican Grill owner Anita Acosta, whose husband and the restaurant’s namesake, Ruben, has been battling serious health problems since January. Anita has struggled to run the place by herself, she said, but has never considered closing. She became concerned when her landlord called recently and said he’d heard a rumor she planned to close.

That’s not the case, she said, and in fact, Ruben has been able to come back to work for a few hours at a time recently. The Acostas moved their Delano restaurant several blocks west on Douglas last year.

Meanwhile, DeFazio’s, the family-owned Italian restaurant at 2706 N. Amidon, also is reassuring customers that it’s still open. Roadwork that’s about to begin in front of the restaurant has caused its street sign to be removed, owners said.

But they’re working on getting new signage up that will point the easiest way to the restaurant, which will remain open throughout the project. Managers say they’ll keep customers posted on the progress of the construction via their Facebook page. 

Delano is about to add two restaurants

The inside of the new Ruben's a month and a half ago

The inside of the new Ruben’s a month and a half ago

West Douglas in Delano is becoming quite the dining destination, and during the next couple of weeks, two more restaurants will open there.

The first will be (finally!) Ruben’s Mexican Grill at 915 W. Douglas, which owners Ruben an Anita Acosta hope to have open by Friday. The restaurant has been in transit since April, when it moved out of its spot at the corner of Douglas and McLean (which has since been demolished.) The Acostas originally hoped to be reopen last spring, but a long list of delays slowed them down.

The new restaurant will have an upgraded dining room and Ruben’s already familiar menu of Tex-Mex favorites.

The new Big B's Beef interior, in progress.

The new Big B’s Beef interior, in progress.

About a week later, Big B’s Beef should complete its move to 605 W. Douglas, right next to Hatman Jacks’s. Owners Liz and Brian Bathgate are moving their restaurant from its original spot at 4628 S. Seneca and hope to be open by Dec. 2. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays and will offer delivery to businesses in Delano and downtown.

Big B’s serves Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef and gyros and will add soups and salads. For more information, call 316-522-2333.

First rule of restaurants: They take (way) longer to open than you think

Jetty’s Pizza’s thissssss close to opening.

When a restaurateur tells me that he plans to have his restaurant open on a certain day, I always add a month or two.

I have almost never seen a restaurant open when its owner said or thought it would, and the most common reasons are construction and inspection delays. At the last minute, something doesn’t arrive or doesn’t work properly. And even if that doesn’t happen, city inspectors work at their own pace, and it always takes longer to get the green light than owners anticipate.

Take Jason Febres, who originally said he would open his new Taste & See Global Cuisine last Monday, Oct. 21. He encountered a variety of the above-mentioned problems, which were beyond his control, and he still isn’t open. The last time I got him on the phone, he said he was hoping for early next week.

Construction issues have also slowed down Ruben’s Mexican Grill, which owners Ruben and Anita Acosta started relocating from Douglas and McLean to a new spot at 915 W. Douglas back in April  The original plan was to reopen by May. About a month ago, they said they were aiming for Oct. 15. Now, Ruben says, it’ll be early November.

Wasabi west has a sign and a finished interior… but no opening date.

Jetty’s Pizza, the new arena-side restaurant being opened by businessman Mickey Lynch, is another example. He had hoped to open on Oct. 1, but now, he’s looking at the first part of November. The interior is nearly done, and Lynch has posted a billboard recruiting workers. He’s in the hiring process now and says he’ll have an update for me next week.

The most classic example of a delayed opening is Wasabi, the sushi restaurant at 912 E. Douglas. Back in 2010, owners said they’d open in January, which turned into February, March then April. The restaurant finally opened in late July of that year.

Owners have been working on a west-side Wasabi at 2402 N. Maize Road for even longer. Owners initially said it would open last December. Then, they said June. I drove by recently and the sign is up and the interior appears almost finished, but when I checked today, I was told that the opening date is now “in a month or so, but nothing is for sure.”

It happens.

I’ll keep you updated on all of the above restaurants.

New Ruben’s should be open by Oct. 15

Construction workers inside new Ruben’s Mexican Grill space on Tuesday

Construction is coming along nicely at the new Ruben’s Mexican Grill spot at 915 W. Douglas and it looks like it could open by Oct. 15.

Owners Ruben and Anita Acosta started their move from their longtime spot at the corner of Douglas and McLean back in April, hoping to be reopened within four weeks. But unexpected delays held things up.

I stopped by on Tuesday, and construction guys were busy at work. It’s easy to see the bones of a nice little dining room taking shape.

The outside of the new Ruben’s Mexican Grill space

Anita said that the new restaurant’s dining room will be much nicer than the old one, which was in a former gas station. The food will be the same, though they may pare the menu down a bit, she said.

Customers have been calling frequently wanting to know when the restaurant will reopen, Anita said. She can’t wait for them to see the new and improved Ruben’s. “It’s going to be totally different,” she said. “It’s going to be really great.”

Ruben’s move down Douglas is underway

Ruben’s Mexican Grill has started its move.

I had a taco hankering at lunch today, and I tried to go to my favorite nearby Mexican place – Ruben’s Mexican Grill at the corner of Douglas and McLean.

But I got the feeling it was closed, especially when I saw the booths and the oven sitting in the parking lot.

Ruben Acosta and his wife Anita are starting the move they announced they’d make earlier this year. They closed the restaurant at the end of business Saturday in anticipation of moving several blocks west to 915 W. Douglas It’ll be at least four weeks before they’ll be ready to reopen there, Anita said.

The duo said earlier this year that they were moving from the location they’ve been in since 2003 because the rent was going to increase substantially.

They’ve abandoned a plan to change the restaurant’s name back to Ruben & Anita’s Tacos, she said. The paperwork was going to be a mess, plus she likes the name Ruben’s Mexican Grill, she said.

The new restaurant, which is larger than the old one, will have a full bar, a patio, big screen televisions and more.

Several patrons have been calling lately, Anita said, wanting to know if the restaurant would still put on its annual parking lot party that it has thrown during the Wichita River Festival for the past few years. But they won’t be able to, Anita said. “We have to move on,” she said.

I’ll let you know when the move is complete.

Ruben’s now offering a Mexican buffet

The dining room at Ruben's Mexican Grill

Several times a year, some hungry reader writes wanting to know who in town offers a Mexican buffet. I just discovered a new one.

A little more than a week ago, Ruben’s Mexican Grill at 520 W. Douglas started a three-day-a-week Mexican buffet. It’s offered from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. The price of the buffet is $7.99 a person.

The staff serves the food from metal trays set up on a table in the corner of the restaurant. The choices are different each day but often include items such as tamales and enchiladas.

Ruben’s is one of my regular lunch stops. It’s close to work, and its flour tacos, chips and salsa landed on my “approved” list years ago.

As for other Mexican buffes: Cortez Mexican Restaurant at 344 W. 29th St., also does a buffet on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There’s also a Mexican lunch buffet at La Tradicion Tortilleria, which is at 1701 N. Broadway. It’s served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.