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.

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Brooks Brothers to leave Wichita

WICHITA — It appears Brooks Brothers is going to be leaving Wichita as quietly as it entered the market.

“I can confirm that our Wichita store will close at the end of this month as we have decided not to renew our lease,” e-mailed Arthur Wayne, vice president of global public relations, in response to a phone call.

He declined a follow-up e-mail request for an interview to elaborate on the decision.

Have You Heard? first reported Brooks Brothers would be coming to the Waterfront development at 13th and Webb in February 2006.

No one with the company confirmed it until a couple of days before the store opened.

The chain, which calls itself the “country’s oldest clothing retailer,” was the Waterfront’s first national retail tenant. It took the development’s prominent domed retail space with 7,651 square feet.

The broker who handled the deal said the company initially planned a Brooks Brothers 346, which isn’t quite as upscale as a traditional Brooks Brothers store. That was before top executives visited the city and decided Wichita has the right demographics for the traditional store.

Waterfront developers Johnny Stevens and Steve Clark expected similar national retail tenants to follow, but they didn’t.

Neither Stevens nor Clark returned calls to discuss the Brooks Brothers departure.