WICHITA — After a dozen years in business, the east-side Timberline Steakhouse & Grill has closed.
“It’s a tear-jerker,” says Scott Redler, who owned the restaurant with Bill Simon.
The west-side Timberline — the original in the chain, which opened in 1997 — will remain open.
The lease was up at the east restaurant at 8310 E. 21st St.
“It wasn’t worth renewing a lease and continuing,” Redler says.
“We were doing very, very well on the weekend,” he says. On weekdays, though, Redler found that people didn’t want to spend the average ticket price of $16 or $17.
“The reality is when you look at this segment of dining . . . the higher the check average, the more challenging it’s been.”
Redler points to similar restaurants, such as Lone Star Steakhouse, which he says has closed about half its restaurants in the last five years.
Redler says people’s incomes don’t make a difference in what they’re willing to spend for meals these days.
“Everybody watches what they spend more carefully now because of current economic situations,” he says.
That has hurt Timberline but helped Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, which Redler and Simon own with Simon’s brother, Randy.
“What I like to say (is) just because the economy’s bad doesn’t mean people learned how to cook,” Redler says.
Freddy’s is part of the reason the east-side Timberline closed.
Redler says he and his partners have 46 Freddy’s and have plans to open 24 more in 2011.
“When you think about it, it’s a Freddy’s every two and a half weeks,” he says. “The amount of time and energy is significant.”
Saturday was the east-side Timberline’s last day in business. Redler says he’s thankful to his employees, many of whom will now work for Freddy’s or the west-side Timberline.
At one point, there were five Timberlines, including sites in Kansas City and Topeka.
There’s still a Timberline that a licensee has in Salina, which is the only one left in addition to the west Wichita Timberline.
Redler says he’s getting calls from longtime Timberline fans.
“It’s sad,” he says. “Hope they make the excursion out west.”