WICHITA — The almost 50-year-old Huddle House chain of 24-hour restaurants is coming to Kansas for the first time.
Franchisee David Key, who is partnering with Ron C. Lee on several Huddle Houses here, was familiar with the brand from growing up in the South.
“There’s everything from breakfast foods to comfort foods,” he says of the diner concept.
Key is best known for trying to build a downtown arena when he operated the former Wichita Stealth indoor football team. He announced his plans in 2003, but financial problems prevented it from happening.
More recently, Key has been involved in franchising Value Place hotels.
Key likes the idea of having a franchise restaurant instead of starting one from scratch.
“There’s some safety in the franchising,” he says. “They’ve had 46 years to, you know, get it right.”
Key says he considered other franchises before deciding on Huddle House.
“I just felt like they were a better fit.”
Lee, who has been involved with business consulting and an accounting practice his wife owns, says the timing with Huddle House is great.
“They were going through a rebranding process,” he says.
There are more than 400 Huddle Houses, mostly in the southeast.
The Atlanta-based company was named for being a place for diners to “huddle” after football games.
Key and Lee’s first Huddle House will be at 1410 E. Broadway Ct. in Newton.
“We were looking for more or less underserved communities,” Key says. “They were arms wide open for us.”
The partners haven’t decided on future sites yet, but they plan at least five in the Wichita area.
Key and Lee are breaking ground shortly in Newton. Look for the first Huddle House to open in late March.