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.

First Wichita Freebirds World Burritos to open near Central and Hillside

WICHITA — Almost a year after announcing they wanted to come to Wichita, the first Freebirds World Burrito franchisees will be opening here.

Overland Park-based FB Midwest Development is the first franchisee of the chain, which is based in Texas and California, and plans to develop Freebirds sites in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

The first Wichita Freebirds will be just south of Central and Hillside in the same center as Great Wall.

“We like the area; traffic counts are good,” says Bryce Katz, COO and partner.

“Everybody said College Hill was a good little center.”

He says he and his partners especially like that Wesley Medical Center is at the intersection.

“That was obviously a huge draw for us.”

In July, Have You Heard? first reported that the group wanted to bring three Freebirds restaurants here.

The first one should open by the middle of June with seating for about 100, including a patio.

Katz says 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.

Freebirds has what Katz calls “very, very fresh” burritos, burrito bowls, nachos, quesadillas, salad and seven kinds of salsa.

After the first Freebirds opens, look for a second possible announcement in the 21st and Greenwich area.

Qdoba Mexican Grill to open in Hutchinson in June; east Wichita Qdoba to follow

WICHITA — The first Qdoba Mexican Grill in this part of Kansas is going to open in Hutchinson.

In July, Have You Heard? reported that restaurateur Eric Estes is bringing the franchise to Wichita.

“We would like to do five,” says Estes, whose Estes Enterprises has almost two dozen A&W and Long John Silver’s franchises in Kansas.

Denver-based Qdoba is similar to Chipotle Mexican Grill in that customers order from a counter with a number of protein, vegetable and salsa selections for burritos and tacos. Qdoba, which was founded in 1995, has about 600 restaurants in 42 states.

Ink Construction will begin building the Hutchinson Qdoba at 1518 E. 17th Ave. in February. That’s where Taco Bueno used to be. That building will be demolished.

An east Wichita location “will soon follow,” Estes says.

He says it just happens the Hutchinson deal was finalized first. He’s selected an east Wichita site, but the deal isn’t done. He’s also considering a couple of sites in west Wichita and is planning a Hays Qdoba as well.

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons is helping Estes with the deals.

Estes says the Hutchinson Qdoba will open June 1 and the others will quickly follow.

Qdoba Mexican Grill to open at least two restaurants on east and west sides

UPDATED — Restaurateur Eric Estes is bringing a new franchise to Wichita:

Qdoba Mexican Grill.

“We’re really impressed with … their culinary attitude (and) approach to food,” Estes says.

Estes Enterprises has 20 A&W and Long John Silver’s franchises in Kansas, including six of the seafood restaurants in Wichita.

Denver-based Qdoba, which was founded in 1995, has about 600 restaurants in 42 states.

Initially, Estes plans to bring Qdobas to Wichita’s east and west sides.

“Our plan is to have the first unit open by the end of ’12 or the very beginning of ’13,” he says.

The east-side Qdoba will be built first.

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons is helping Estes with the deals, which aren’t yet finalized.

Wink Hartman II of Ink Construction is the contractor.

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Taco Tinga to open in former Dolci & Joe’s

WICHITA — Diners soon will once again be able to find tacos at 3425 East Douglas.

That was Taco Tico’s home years ago before Breezy’s and then Dolci & Joe’s opened there.

Now, Angel Varela and M.M. Karim are opening Taco Tinga there.

Varela used to own the La Hacienda grocery at 31st and Hillside and the La Picosa restaurant within it.

His new restaurant will be similar to a Chipotle Mexican Grill in that customers will walk in and select ingredients from a counter featuring various fillings for tacos, burritos, sandwiches and quesadillas.

Unlike Chipotle, there will be some ready-made items as well, such as chili rellenos and enchiladas.

Initially, Taco Tinga will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Later, breakfast will be available, too.

The restaurant opens Aug. 1.

Freebirds World Burrito franchisee to begin search for Wichita sites

WICHITA — A franchisee is looking to bring as many as three Freebirds World Burritos to Wichita.

Overland Park-based FB Midwest Development is the first franchisee of the chain, which is based in Texas and California. The franchise group has the rights to develop Freebirds locations in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

“We’re signed up initially for 27, and hopefully we can get more territories,” says Bryce Katz, COO and partner.

He says the restaurant is similar to Chipotle Mexican Grill, with a big focus on organic items such as grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken.

Freebirds has what Katz calls “very, very fresh” burritos, burrito bowls, nachos, quesadillas, salad and seven kinds of salsa.

The group’s first restaurant opened recently in Mission, which makes the 77th Freebirds site nationally.

Katz says his group hopes to open in Wichita in 2013.

“We’re going to start looking now.”

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