WICHITA — Percussionist Walfredo Reyes Jr., who is on tour with Chicago, had just finished a workout in the Ambassador Hotel’s gym Sunday night when he encountered Anchor owner Schane Gross in the elevator on his way back to his room on the 12th floor.
Before he knew it, he was partying with a bunch of chefs and food service vendors celebrating their first Funday in the Rock Star Suite.
Funday is a Kansas City tradition that Siena Tuscan Steakhouse chef Marshall Roth is now instituting at the Ambassador where chefs gather to cook and hang out together on Sundays. The first one included Wichita chefs and several from Kansas City.
Reyes, who goes by Wally, fit right in as he fielded questions about his time in Wichita on the band’s way to Salina’s Stiefel Theatre Monday.
So why wasn’t he or anyone else in the band already staying in the Rock Star Suite?
“Too many expenses,” he says.
The Cuba native is known around the world for his drumming and has toured with a number of acts, such as Santana and Steve Winwood.
“I travel all around the world like I’m hopping in a cab,” Reyes says.
Still, he was impressed with Wichita.
He stopped into A Legacy Antique Mall around the corner from the Ambassador.
“I transported myself to the ’60s,” he says of checking out records.
He also popped over to Mead’s Corner for a small latte with a double shot of espresso.
“And you know what?” Reyes says. “They know how to make it. Starbucks doesn’t.”
Reyes, who currently lives north of Los Angeles, particularly liked Old Town even though not much was open Sunday morning as he walked around.
“I have a fetish with brick or something,” he says. “It kind of … talks to you.”
He says that’s one reason he likes New Orleans so much, and now Old Town is on his list, too.
“I love the vibe.”
Reyes says he can imagine the area continuing to grow and prosper even more.
“In, like, two or three years, I’ll be back to rock and party.”