As of late Saturday night, Wichita is once again without an Amarillo Grill.
By customer demand, Amarillo owner Danny Nguyen, who bought the restaurant at 306 N. Rock Road early this year, is converting it into a Pho Hot Bistro.
It’ll be more of an upscale version of his successful Pho Hot restaurant near Pawnee and the Canal Route.
Former Amarillo owner Alan Bundy, who founded the popular Amarillo Grill chain in 1982, brought the restaurant back to Wichita in early 2008.
Bundy sold the chain in 1996, and the new owners eventually closed all the restaurants.
Nguyen says the restaurant did all right in its North Rock space, but he says his customers were disappointed he wasn’t opening a Pho Hot.
His new concept will feature the same fresh and often healthy ingredients Pho Hot offers, and the menu will be the same for lunch — pho, noodle dishes and Vietnamese sandwiches.
But dinner will have an expanded menu that prominently features fresh seafood that Nguyen buys on weekly trips to Houston.
Dishes include some not-so-typical entrees for Wichita, such as blue crab-stuffed avocados, crab cake po’ boys and tableside hot pots to cook your own shrimp and beef.
And, unlike the Pawnee location, there will be beer and wine on the menu.
Military discounts will continue as well.
The interior of the restaurant will be remodeled, too. Nguyen plans to raise the ceiling, create a new entrance and add seating to accommodate about 100 diners.
Look for the new restaurant to open in early summer.
Nguyen says his existing location won’t change. Contrary to what some concerned customers fear, he says, “Pho Hot is not for sale.”