U Grill to open in former Linkhaus space

WICHITA — An Oklahoma lawyer’s shopping trip to the Rock Road Sam’s Club led to him leasing the former Linkhaus space near the southwest corner of 37th Street North and Rock Road.

Will Clark was in Wichita shopping at Sam’s about six months ago.

“For some reason, I went north to 37th Street instead of south to . . . 96,” Clark says.

“It was nighttime, and I drove by the Linkhaus, and it was all lit up. And I thought, what in the world? I literally came in and bought a hot dog because I was curious about the building. I thought, that’s one heck of a building.”

He’s planning to open a fast-casual dining concept called U Grill in September.

“Basically what we’re looking at doing is like a fast food HuHot or a Genghis Grill,” Clark says.

Instead of having only rice or noodles to choose from along with grilled vegetables, U Grill will have hamburgers, cheese steak sandwiches and omelets for which customers can also select vegetables to grill.

The quarter pound burgers will be divided into two patties that are smashed and grilled quickly. The grilled vegetables will go between the patties.

Clark says he’s also getting a license for at least beer and wine and hopes to make U Grill a late-night spot for sporting events in addition to serving breakfast lunch and dinner.

“There’s a lot of potential for this area to have a after-hours place for people to gather.”

First, though, Clark says, “We want to make sure we get the food right    . . . and get that up and running.”

For the late-night crowd, he plans to keep one fryer open for items such as onion rings and jalapeno poppers.

Leisa Lowry with J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal.

“It’s more than a pipe dream,” Clark says.

He says he and his wife, Shauna, have been planning the restaurant for some time and checking the Internet for potential sites in Oklahoma City, Tulsa or Wichita.

That’s how he found out the former Linkhaus space was available.

“I went, you’ve got to be kidding,” Clark says. “I thought, if I’m ever going to do this, now’s the time.”

He knows he can fall back on his legal career.

“It’s one of those things you get kind of burned out,” he says of why he’s switching jobs.

He’s not entering the restaurant business because he’s dying to fry food for a living.

“Our vision is not . . . to open one and for me to work however many hours — 70, 80, 90 a week — running a restaurant,” Clark says.

“The vision is to have more and to expand, and how far that goes, who knows?”