Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Panera Bread coming to Ridge Road and University

WICHITA — Scott Redler has been searching for additional west-side space for Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers for years.

His business partner, Randy Simon, has been looking for space for a second west-side Panera Bread.

Now, they’ve found what they need in the same spot.

Redler and Simon finalized a deal today to buy land owned by Leisa Lowry to build at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and University (between Maple and Kellogg) across from Lowe’s.

“We were very fortunate to get this location,” Redler says.

Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the deal.

Simon had a letter of intent with Ablah five years ago for space near there, but it didn’t work out.

“I’ve always had that area as a priority for us,” Simon says.

He and Redler like that the property is in the heart of a residential area with strong businesses nearby, too. Accessibility to Kellogg was key as well.

The almost 4,300-square-foot Panera will share a wall with the 3,200-square-foot Freddy’s.

“It’ll be conjoined at the hip,” Simon says.

Construction will start soon and the restaurants should be ready to open in about 150 days.

The Freddy’s on 21st near Tyler, which opened in 2002, is the original Freddy’s.

“That restaurant is amazing for us,” Redler says, “and just keeps getting busier and busier.”

There are 37 Freddy’s restaurants already open in six states and five more under construction (including in a sixth state) and a few more ready to start.

Redler says he and Simon think Wichita, which has three Freddy’s locations, could support one or two more.

He says southwest Wichita and the 53rd Street North and Meridian area are possibilities for the future.

“We get a lot of e-mails saying, ‘When are you going to open here?’ ”

In addition to some efficiencies from locating Freddy’s and Panera next to each other, Redler also says their peak times — breakfast and lunch for Panera, lunch and dinner for Freddy’s — are compatible.

“A little bit of crossover there works very well.”

A couple of months ago, Simon renegotiated his development deal with Panera to be able to have more stores.

He and his partners have 30 Paneras now and have the ability to do four more, including the new west-side Panera.

“Until I got that extension, I was kind of handcuffed,” Simon says.

He’d also like to find space in southeast Wichita, most likely along Kellogg.

“We probably should have five stores here instead of three,” Simon says.

The low number of Paneras is part of why he thinks each one is doing so well.

Freddy’s is having similar success, Simon says.

“Both businesses are really on a tear here.”

Simon thinks fast-casual dining options are doing well across the board thanks to the current economy.

It “is kind of a good segment to be in right now.”

Still, Simon wonders what’s around the corner.

“We keep trying to figure out what we should be worried about. I know there’s something out there that’s scary, but I just can’t put my finger on it.”