WICHITA — There have been a lot of questions, not to mention much speculation, about what’s going to go in the former Cibola space — Bradley Fair’s preeminent waterfront property that’s been empty since early 2009.
Now, there’s an answer:
“We were going to take our time and absolutely do it right,” developer George Laham says of finding a new restaurant for the space.
He almost immediately turned to PB&J’s Paul Khoury and Bill Crooks, who have developed menus for 27 restaurants.
“We just looked at the market,” Khoury says.
He says there are plenty of great steak houses and other restaurants here.
Although Bonefish Grill opened in 2006, Khoury says they still saw an opening for another seafood restaurant.
“Bonefish does a great job, don’t get me wrong,” he says.
Newport Grill will fly fish in six days a week, sometimes from as far away as the Mediterranean.
“When you walk through Newport Grill, you won’t be able to smell fish,” Khoury says. “That’s how fresh it will be.”
Where YiaYia’s ticket prices are about $25 or $26 a person, Newport’s will be more like $30 to $32 a person due to the cost of fish.
“We’re going to have an attitude about not using fish that is over harvested,” Crooks says.
Newport Grill executive chef and owner Aaron Whitcomb, who has been working at YaYa’s EuroBistro in Denver, says he wants to redefine some traditional seafood dishes.
There will be nonseafood items on the menu as well.
Crooks says there will be an emphasis on using locally grown produce and naturally fed and sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken. Lamb also will be served.
There will be 190 seats at Newport Grill, which is about 40 more than Cibola had.
The extra space will come from the demolition of the wine room that was near the front of Cibola and offices that were near the rest rooms.
In addition to being completely renovated, the space will have a new entrance.
It will now be in the tower that faces north to Bradley Fair’s fountain and east to the lake.
Khoury says the remodeling will open up the view of the water.
“Now there’s not a bad seat in the restaurant.”
Christi Royse of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal for Bradley Fair.
Water will be a key element at Newport Grill.
“You’ll get the feeling of being by the sea in some of the materials we’re using,” Crooks says.
There will be subtle suggestions, with sea glass and shell tiles.
“We’re not going to hang buoys or life preservers,” Crooks says, laughing. “No life-size crabs.”
Sue Ellen Langford, director of interior design at Santa Ana, Calif.-based Steven Langford Architects, tried to integrate “the nostalgia of coastal elements into a warm, casual atmosphere.”
Langford also is doing some updating at YiaYia’s, such as bringing in new fabric and carpet. Khoury and Crooks are calling it the restaurant’s 15-year face lift.
Eventually, Newport Grill will be open for lunch. The restaurant also will have a children’s menu.
There will be room for another 190 diners on the patio.
“Luckily we’re opening in November,” Khoury says of not being overwhelmed with too many seats initially.
Also, for the first time customers will be able to book events at the restaurant that will utilize the plaza space to the north.
Previously, only Bradley Fair has used the space for its own events.
Now, people will be able to book wedding receptions and other events. The plaza can accommodate hundreds for seated dinners.
Khoury is coy when asked if this is the first of what will be a chain of Newport Grills for PB&J.
“You know, we always just start out with one.”