Strip center to join restaurants along Ridge Road corridor

WICHITA — Restaurants aren’t the only new businesses that will be opening in the Ridge Road corridor between Kellogg and Maple.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers partners Scott Redler and Bill and Randy Simon also will be building a strip center on the approximately four acres they have along the corridor.

Have You Heard? this week reported that Abuelo’s will be opening at the northeast corner of Taft and Ridge Road, which is south of where Randy Simon has a Panera Bread next to a Freddy’s. There’s also a Twin Peaks under construction across Ridge Road.

Redler says he’s not sure how soon construction will start on the center. He says it depends on when the first tenant signs.

The 8,400-square-foot strip center will be to the north of Abuelo’s.

“We probably have room for one restaurant, and the rest would be retail-oriented,” Redler says. “We’re restaurateurs, and we want to make sure we have ample parking for all the restaurants. … Parking’s so critical.”

He says Freddy’s and Panera do well and will require some extra parking.

Redler says he thinks Abuelo’s will do well, too.

“They really do a great job,” he says. “I’m personally a big fan of (Abuelo’s) chile rellenos.”

West-side Abuelo’s to open at Taft and Ridge Road in early 2015

WICHITA — In January, Have You Heard? reported that Abuelo’s was getting closer to a deal at a site near the Kellogg and Ridge Road corridor not far from where the new Twin Peaks is going to open.

East-side Abuelo’s manager Chuck Ouellette says we “nailed it.”

He confirms the Lubbock-based company will open its second Wichita Abuelo’s at the northeast corner of Taft and Ridge Road, which is south of Panera Bread and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and across the street from where Twin Peaks is under construction. Among other restaurants in the area is another Mexican chain, Wichita’s Carlos O’Kelly’s.

“My philosophy has always been the more restaurants you have, the more opportunities guests have,” Ouellette says. “It’s better for everyone.”

Construction will begin on the almost 8,000-square-foot building and a 1,000-square-foot patio in late summer or early fall, and the restaurant will open in the first quarter of next year. There will be seating for about 250 people, and the restaurant will employ 80 to 100 people.

Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal. Read More »

Abuelo’s inching closer to west-side deal

WICHITA — Abuelo’s, the Mexican restaurant chain that opened at the Waterfront in April 2004, is working on a deal for west-side space.

“It’s been a good market for us,” Abuelo’s director of marketing Melanie Carroll says of Wichita.

She says the Lubbock-based company is always looking for growth opportunities and believes Wichita could sustain two Abuelo’s restaurants, but she won’t share details beyond that.

Landmark Commercial Real Estate president and CEO Brad Saville, who represents Abuelo’s in Wichita, says the chain is eyeing three west-side sites and hasn’t yet determined where it will go.

Other sources, though, says Abuelo’s is getting closer to a deal at a site near the Kellogg and Ridge Road corridor not far from where the new Twin Peaks is going to open.

Earlier this month, Have You Heard? reported that Twin Peaks, which already has an east-side site, is going to open at 7325 W. Taft. It will be in a building across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread, which is south of Maple and Ridge.

The area is becoming a hot spot for restaurants such as Applebee’s, McAlister’s Deli, Chipotle Mexican Grill, IHOP and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers among others.

Look for more news on Abuelo’s in the months ahead.

You don’t say

“Great service, great food at a great price – just like the King Air.”

– New York City resident Kenny Dichter, founder of Wheels Up (which just placed an order with Beechcraft for up to 105 King Airs) on his favorite Wichita restaurant, Abuelo’s

Former Wichitans Dennis Thompson and Doug Glendenning to bring Firebirds Wood Fired Grill to the Waterfront

The Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II stands in front of the future home of Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.

WICHITA — A visit home to his native Wichita is what’s leading Lone Star Steakhouse founder Dennis Thompson to bring his latest restaurant concept to the Waterfront.

Thompson and former Wichitan Doug Glendenning and a private New York equity firm own 23 Firebirds Wood Fired Grills and have six more under construction.

Thompson, who founded the company in 2000 in Charlotte, N.C., planned to go to Oklahoma City and Tulsa next but changed his mind.

“I happened to be in Wichita for a class reunion,” he says.

While here, Thompson toured the former Brooks Brothers store at the Waterfront development at 13th and Webb Road.

The 7,650-square-foot space is on the corner of the retail section of the Waterfront and is known for its decorative domed roof.

“It’s the most prominent spot in the retail center,” says the Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II.

Glendenning, the former president of Lone Star, calls the Waterfront “one of the best areas in the greater Wichita area for sure.”

“I used to live just a couple of blocks from there, so I know that area very well,” he says.

Glendenning is a founder of Firebirds, too, but he says Thompson really created it.

Thompson’s Aspen home inspired what initially was a Colorado lodge theme.

“Over time … it’s evolved,” Glendenning says. “It’s a lot less Colorado feel and more just kind of upscale casual.”

Thompson says he wanted to start a concept that was more upscale than an Outback or similar restaurants but not quite as high end as a Morton’s or a Ruth’s Chris.

“The theme is based around steaks, but we’re not perceived necessarily as a steakhouse,” Thompson says.

There are lots of wood-fired dishes, many of which have a southwestern flair.

Read More »

There’s a new menu for this year’s Zoobilee

WICHITA — It’s a safe bet that no one who goes to Zoobilee on Saturday will leave hungry, but there are several popular restaurants that have been involved with the Sedgwick County Zoo fund-raiser that won’t be back this year.

“I just don’t feel the event is the same for the restaurants as it used to be,” says Darrin Hackney, general manager at Heroes.

Heroes has been a participant for the last 15 years.

Hackney says the event is a good one, but it changed from a cocktail party atmosphere to “just watching people grab food like they’ve never eaten before.”

“When you have food flying out that fast . . . are they really trying your food or is it just (to) curb the alcohol?”

Read More »