WICHITA — The almost 7,500-square-foot building at 3731 N. Rock Road has been home to several restaurants in recent years.
Highlands Gastropub and Cardroom was the most recent short-lived tenant. Serengeti Grill was briefly there before that, and Black Canyon Grille had a longer existence there before that.
Now, BenchWarmers Tavern & Grill, an upscale sports bar, has a 10-year lease on the space.
“We’re very serious and plan on being there a long time,” says Pamela Tauman, marketing manager and department head for the Erie, Colo.-based BenchWarmers International. “It’s a great spot.”
Nathan Farha of Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group represented BenchWarmers in the deal.
BenchWarmers is looking for a second Wichita site but doesn’t have it finalized yet.
The first BenchWarmers opened in Aurora, Colo., near Denver in January. There are only a couple of sites so far, but the company is in a huge growth mode.
After a planned opening in Centennial, Colo., on July 8, BenchWarmers plans to open a new site every other week for a year.
“They just feel very confident about their business plan and about the model we have in place,” Tauman says. “Since they have the funds to make it happen at that rate, they’re just ready to go.
“They’re very eager to make their mark.”
CEO Kevin Foote is an executive chef, and that helps set BenchWarmers apart, Tauman says.
She says there are “just some little touches that make it better than what you’re normally going to find at a sports bar, and we’re very proud of that.”
That includes roast beef that’s carved only once it’s ordered, a variety of flatbread pizzas and an expansive selection of appetizers, including all kinds of sliders.
“We pride ourselves on our food,” Tauman says. “It truly sets us apart.”
She says the atmosphere is upscale as well, with a lot of 50-inch HD televisions.
“Our goal is to have everybody in the restaurant have a clear shot of a TV, so it’s fantastic viewing,” Tauman says.
In fact, the ability to enjoy a game in a comfortable environment is what prompted Foote to start the chain.
He was at a Colorado Avalanche game with some friends when they overheard people complaining about how cold they were and how it actually would be better to watch the game someplace they could be more comfortable with good food and beautiful women to serve them.
The result? Think Hooters girls in barely-there referee uniforms.
Look for BenchWarmers to open in mid-November or December at the latest.