Anchor owner plans changes, including adding a banquet hall

schaneWICHITA — Almost six years after opening the popular Anchor restaurant and bar on Douglas just east of Old Town, owner Schane Gross is expanding.

“We’ve gotten so busy, especially with going nonsmoking,” she says.

Gross hired Farha Construction to help her with a couple of key changes.

First, she’s knocking down the wall that separates the two sides of the business.

That’s in part because she wants the Anchor to feel more like a restaurant.

“Our food sales are easily 70 percent of our sales,” she says.

Because of the current dividing wall, Gross says the bar area seems even bigger.

“It has such a huge presence.”

The back room at the Anchor traditionally is where customers can book parties and events, but now Gross is building a new banquet hall to the east of the Anchor where Honie’s Wig & Beauty Supply used to be.

“We have so many people wanting to do private parties,” Gross says.

She doesn’t like having to turn diners away when there’s a private party, in part because the parties are less lucrative.

“Plus, we upset our regulars.”

The new event space will hold about 140 people or even more without tables and chairs.

The physical bar at the Anchor also is being rebuilt, Gross says.

She’s upgrading her beer delivery system to eliminate waste and have more consistent temperature control.

anchorThe Anchor also now will be able to have 60 beers on tap instead of 46.

Gross says a lot of customers won’t notice other changes.

“The people who know that bar like it’s their home will know the difference.”

One change she hopes customers will notice is in the food.

Gross plans to add a lot of beer and menu pairings, such as maybe highlighting German beer one night and offering a German dish to go with it.

Regional dishes are something else she’d like to explore.

“That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

With the possibility of Five Guys Burgers and Fries opening next to her on the southwest corner of Douglas and Ida, Gross says some of the pressure would be off of her to offer so many hamburgers. She says it would free her to experiment with other dishes.

Also, Gross says, “If people have more than one reason to go a certain direction, they’ll be more likely to come that way.”

Gross has been reading a lot of magazines like Bon Appetit for inspiration on what dishes she might offer.

She just read a Bon Appetit article about the top 10 best new restaurants, which included places like hers.

Gross says she’s not expecting to land in Bon Appetit, but she says, “If anybody ever comes to Wichita and stumbles across us, I want to qualify for that.”