WICHITA — Former Red Bean’s Bayou Grill & Bar co-owner Rick Jeffrey is opening a new restaurant.
He and Lawrence business partner Brad Remington are opening Wheat State Pizza in Derby on Feb. 7.
Remington already operates the franchise in Lawrence, Emporia and Baldwin.
“This is a quintessentially Kansas business,” says Jeffrey’s wife, Angie.
The interior of the 70-seat restaurant, which will be in a former Burger King at 236 W. Greenway in Derby Towne Center, will have a Kansas flair instead of looking like an Italian pizzeria.
There will be a mural of a wheat field on a wall celebrating the wheat in the restaurant’s crust. More traditional white crust will be available, too, along with 35 toppings.
There will be delivery and a pick-up window as well.
Rick Jeffrey and Remington, who met decades ago when they began their careers with Carlos O’Kelly’s, chose Derby for the first Wheat State in this area because it’s where Angie Jeffrey grew up.
“It’s just the hometown thing to do,” she says. “We just felt very strongly about starting out in our own front yard.”
If it does well, Wichita is a possibility along with other Kansas sites.
“We have decided to brand this as a Kansas company owned by Kansans,” Angie Jeffrey says. “It just made sense to us.”
She says pizza is something that has done well in the economic downturn because it offers a lot of food for little money.
While Wheat State has done well in college towns, Angie Jeffrey likes to say, “This is pizza you don’t have to be drunk and a college sophomore to eat.”