Category Archives: Restaurants

Loft 150 likely will transform into new venue

WICHITA — Loft 150 above River City Brewing Co. in Old Town is a teenager now, and that means it’s time for a change.

“We’ve got to reinvest in our business if we’re going to keep people coming in here,” says operating partner Chris Arnold.

The 21-year-old River City Brewing created Loft 150 during a remodeling in 2001 to give it “a little more bar feel … to get that late night crowd to come in here,” Arnold says.

He says there was more of a dimly lit lounge feel with leather couches than the rustic look of River City.

“It worked great for a lot of years,” Arnold says. “That trend is just kind of over.”

While downstairs business “is really, really great right now,” he says upstairs “got stagnant, just slowed down a little bit.”

He has bids out to remodel the upstairs and create a feel more similar to the downstairs with hardwood floors, exposed beams, a lighter look and new garage doors onto its balcony.

Read More »

A 1,500-square-foot Scooter’s is second tenant for Union Station

WICHITA — Occidental Management now has its second tenant in its new development at Union Station, which it is planning to transform into a multi-use destination in the heart of the city.

“We’re going to be putting in a Scooter’s coffee cafe,” says Occidental president Chad Stafford, who handled the deal with chairman and CEO Gary Oborny.

Wichita businessman Tad Fugate will open the Scooter’s in 1,500 square feet on the east end of what was the Grand Hotel immediately to the west of The Wichita Eagle. The businesses are across from the entrance to Old Town.

“So they’ll have great presence along Douglas,” Stafford says.

“To have them in this with their coffee brand is pretty exciting,” he says of Fugate and his company.

This won’t be a typical Scooter’s kiosk.

“This is a little bit different for them in that they’re getting into a little cafe style.”

There are similar Scooter’s cafes on the Plaza in Kansas City and in Overland Park.

There will be a drive-through at the cafe.

Read More »

Jackie Chan’s sushi to open near Central and Oliver

WICHITA — Another Asian restaurant is moving into the former home of Sit at Thai Express on East Central just east of Oliver.

Binh Tran is opening Jackie Chan’s Sushi in the small space, which also has a drive-through.

“He’s been making sushi in Wichita for 20 years,” says Andy Boyd of Walter Morris Cos., who handled the deal.

“He’s been at Kwan Court and Sakura,” Boyd says.

“He’s never had his own spot. . . . So this is his first venture on his own.”

Tran says he’s naming the business after himself.

“Jackie Chan is my nickname,” he says.

Tran says his friends named him that years ago.

Boyd says he’s sampled some of Tran’s cooking.

“It’s really, really good.”

Boyd calls it “some of the best sushi I’ve ever had.”

Tran says he’ll also have stir fry and pho, a Vietnamese soup.

Look for the restaurant to open in mid April.

 

Sasnak Management closes 17 Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants — none in Wichita — in repositioning move

UPDATED — No Wichita Carlos O’Kelly’s are affected, but Wichita-based Sasnak Management has closed 17 of its Mexican restaurants in order to reposition the company.

“It’s been gut wrenching,” says president Jon Rolph.

However, he says, “We have 22 strong locations moving forward.”

Rolph says some of the company’s restaurants across nine states were too big, some weren’t in the right places, and all weren’t performing as well as the ones the company is keeping.

“That’s where these decisions were born out of,” Rolph says. “We just decided to face the pain all at once rather than just drip, drip, drip.”

Rolph says he’s looking a decade out in his planning.

“We said, you know … let’s make the hard decisions and set this company up so we can pour our money into where we’re growing. I know it’s strange to hear that when you’re closing stores it’s part of your growth strategy … but that’s true in this scenario.”

Read More »

You don’t say

“So I had to find him and high-five him.”

Papa John’s franchisee Terry Newman, who saw the Shockers win on Saturday and then was deluged with texts that Tekele Cotton was walking around the arena with a Papa John’s pizza

Freebirds World Burrito set to open at Village at Greenwich

WICHITA — In September, Have You Heard? reported that Wichita’s second Freebirds World Burrito would open at the Village at Greenwich at 21st and Greenwich. Next week, it will happen.

This makes the seventh restaurant for Overland Park-based Freebirds franchisee FB Midwest Development. Its first Wichita Freebirds opened in June just south of Central on Hillside.

Last fall, Freebirds regional manager Steve Perkins said business has been “fantastic.”

“Couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Perkins said the chain is “just putting feelers out and looking” around the city for other sites. He expects there to be three or four, including one on the west side and one in south Wichita toward Derby.

The restaurant is similar to Chipotle Mexican Grill and has a big focus on organic items such as grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken.

The first 25 diners at the new Freebirds next Thursday will receive free burritos for one year.

 

Metro Grill owner explains departure

WICHITA — Metro Grill owner Michael Gonzalez wasn’t available last week to discuss why he abruptly left his restaurant at the Waterfront, which his landlord said he gutted on the way out.

“There was more to it than what they said, of course,” Gonzalez says.

“I’ve been so depressed for the last couple of weeks, but life goes on.”

He says there were a number of issues that caused him to leave.

“I was expecting volume like Andover,” Gonzalez says of his former restaurant there, which someone else now owns.

He says his lunch and weekend business was great, but the rest of his sales weren’t enough.

“That was just too much of a high rent to sustain,” Gonzalez says. “But I gave it a shot.”

He says parking became a bit of an issue with the new Firebirds next door to his restaurant. Also, Gonzalez says his landlords disappointed him by not putting his restaurant on a billboard near Kellogg and Rock Road as he says they promised. He says he had been working with them to lower his rent and then received a 10-day notice to leave.

Read More »

PB&J Restaurants considers Burnt End BBQ for Wichita

WICHITA — Kansas City-based PB&J Restaurants, the company that brought YaYa’s EuroBistro and Newport Grill to Wichita, is looking to possibly bring a new concept as well.

“It’s our new barbecue concept,” says PB&J’s Paul Khoury.

Burnt End BBQ opened three weeks ago near 119th and Metcalf in Overland Park.

“It’s fast casual,” Khoury says. “It’s doing well.”

If it remains successful, he says that “just like we always do, next stop is Wichita.”

“Wichita’s a great restaurant town. People like to eat out in Wichita.”

Khoury says there are good income levels here to support restaurants.

“Look at how many restaurants that have come out of Wichita, too,” he says of chains such as Pizza Hut and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.

PB&J, which no longer owns the YaYa’s here, debuted its Newport Grill seafood concept here.

It’s now opening another Newport Grill on May 1 at the new Prairiefire development on West 135th Street between Nall and Lamar avenues. The restaurant will be one space down from where Wichita’s Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates is opening its new store.

Newport Grill has “just been very successful in Wichita,” Khoury says.

Read More »

Rita’s Italian Ice to open next to east-side Five Guys Burgers and Fries in a month

WICHITA — The sign for Wichita’s first Rita’s Italian Ice went up Thursday next to the Five Guys Burgers and Fries near 29th and Rock Road.

“We are actually in Philadelphia right now finishing up our training on all these wonderful treats we’re bringing to town,” franchisee Jeff Miller says of himself and his brother, Jay.

“We’re on target for no later than the 27th (of March) to be open.”

As Have You Heard? reported in October, each Rita’s will be its own business but will be done in tandem with Five Guys restaurants.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest from people who have moved from this area,” Miller says of Wichitans from the Philadelphia area, where Rita’s is based.

The chain sells custard and flavored ice that almost has a creamy texture.

“We are just so excited about this product,” Miller says. “It is fantastic stuff.”

Read More »

El Agave Mexican Restaurant on North Rock Road to move, but not far

UPDATED — El Agave Mexican Restaurant is moving, but not far.

The restaurant, which opened in September 2011, is at 3320 N. Rock Road where Top China Buffet, Monterrey Mexican Grill and Red Hot & Blue once were.

In a month or two, El Agave will be moving to the spaces formerly occupied by Rock Island Cafe and Wazabz at 3236 N. Rock Road. That’s across from Hooters.

Owner Luis Zambrano says the new space has “a better location and a better rent for us mainly.”

He says the new El Agave will be about the same size as the current one.

“We’re already started doing some work at the other spot.”

Zambrano says business has been doing fine since it opened.

“It just keeps getting better.”