Panda Express to open at Derby Marketplace

WICHITA — Panda Express is going to open a third Wichita-area restaurant, this time in Derby.

The fast casual concept will go in the Derby Marketplace at Meadowlark and Rock Road. Panda will be in 2,350 square feet on the opposite end of the building where Starbucks is.

There’s another 3,200 square feet left to lease in the building.

The California-based Panda entered the Wichita market in 2010 with stores on Maize Road in front of Academy Sports & Outdoors and at One Kellogg Place on East Kellogg.

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons represents the chain in the Wichita area.

Panda is similar to Chipotle in that diners walk through a line and first select a starch — steamed or fried rice or chow mein — and vegetables followed by two to three entrees.

Entrees consist of traditional Chinese dishes such as kung pao chicken, sweet-and-sour pork and beef and broccoli.

Look for more details on the Derby Panda as they become available.

Dave Dunn to open Billy Sims Barbecue

WICHITA — Dave Dunn, who used to own Emerson Biggin’s, is bringing a new restaurant concept to Wichita.

Dunn already owns a Billy Sims Barbecue in Oklahoma City, and in September he’s opening one at the southwest corner of Kellogg and Andover.

Sims was a Heisman winner at the University of Oklahoma who went on to play for the Detroit Lions. Dunn says he’s one of his heroes.

“Just remember watching him,” Dunn says. “Would never dream I would be in business with him. We see him a lot, really. He’s very hands-on with franchisees.”

Dunn’s Oklahoma City restaurant was the 18th for the Tulsa-based chain, which now has more than 40 restaurants.

“They’re growing fast,” he says.

Dunn says there aren’t enough rooftops near his Oklahoma City restaurant.

“I do think Wichita will be better.”

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Wichita’s first Pie Five Pizza to open in late summer near Maple and Ridge

WICHITA — Late last year Applebee’s franchisee Jim Stevens told Have You Heard? that he planned to bring Pie Five Pizza to Wichita, and now he’s doing it.

Stevens’ first Wichita Pie Five will go on the lot south of his Applebee’s near Maple and Ridge Road, and it will be the first freestanding Pie Five for the Dallas-based national chain.

“I looked all over,” Stevens says of trying to find a strip center to open in. “There was nothing available.”

Stevens, who has franchise rights in Wichita and Omaha, will break ground on the 2,500-square-foot restaurant Monday.

Originally, Stevens says he had planned to do another restaurant concept, but former Applebee’s president Dave Goebel convinced him otherwise.

“I was talking to him about a different concept, and he said, ‘Well, you might want to take a look at Pie Five,’” Stevens says. “Dave is really a straight shooter.”

Stevens says he was impressed with the chain.

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Twin Peaks has west-side space, and it isn’t where anyone suspected

The west-side Twin Peaks will be on the north end of this building across Ridge Road from Carlos O'Kelly's and Panera Bread.

The west-side Twin Peaks will be on the north end of this building across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread.

WICHITA — There’s been a popular guessing game of where the west-side Twin Peaks might go. As it turns out, it’s not opening at any of the spots most people thought it might.

Franchisee Rusty Rathbun considered most of those sites, but he’s settled on 7325 W. Taft instead.

“It’s been overlooked from a retail perspective,” says Dan Unruh of InSite Real Estate Group.

The building, which is across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread, was built as office space that most recently was home to American Family Insurance.

Gallery Expressions will be Twin Peaks’ neighbor to the northwest across a parking lot, and the Lowe’s at Maple and Ridge Road is just north of that.

“This one kept coming up as a great site if we could just make the building work,” Unruh says.

InSite is part of South Ridge LLC, a group that purchased the 16,800-square-foot center where Twin Peaks is going.

Rathbun says he seriously considered about 15 properties before deciding on the Taft site.

“It works because of the traffic count and all the number one restaurants in the area,” he says.

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Kobe Steak House of Japan in Derby has closed, but Starbucks and Braum’s are opening, possibly followed by Chipotle

WICHITA — Derby’s loss is going to be Wichita’s gain.

Kobe Steak House of Japan, which opened three years ago in the former Tokyo Steakhouse space at 1221 N. Rock Road in Derby, closed after business March 2.

Jim Hamlin, who owns the restaurant with Jim West, says they plan to reopen in Wichita.

They already have a Kobe at 21st and Maize Road. Hamlin won’t say where the new one will be.

“I’ll tell you that a little later.”

Hamlin says the Derby Kobe was profitable, but not enough.

“We hadn’t been as successful there as we’d like to be.”

He says there were issues with the building, including too much square footage for the number of diners it could seat, and a too-small parking lot.

“It just had a number of barriers to growing down there,” Hamlin says. “It takes a lot of population to have a specialty restaurant.”

It’s not all bad dining news for Derby, though.

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Brats n Hots restaurant to open on the east side this spring; franchises to follow

WICHITA — Lots of people dream of owning their own restaurants to create their favorite dishes for others.

That’s not why Mike Nicholas is opening Brats n Hots.

“I’m not doing it because I’ve always been a hot dog lover or anything like that,” he says.

Nicholas is starting the business to then franchise it. He wanted to create a franchise with low start-up costs to attract others.

He’s had success in the hospice business with Promises Kept Hospices, and now he’s taking those business skills to the restaurant industry.

“I guess I consider myself more of a business person than a restaurateur.”

The first Brats n Hots will open this spring in the strip center on South Greenwich across from One Kellogg Place where Walmart is.

Nicholas says he’s targeting March 1, “but that means probably April 1.”

Brats n Hots will be a Chipotle-style concept where customers can order at a counter and look at what ingredients they might like on their brats and hot dogs.

There will be 30 toppings available, such as sauerkraut and grilled onions.

“The list just goes on and on,” Nicholas says.

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Pitas & Paninis replaces Yuca Latin Bistro

WICHITA — Roni Attari has made some changes at Yuca Latin Bistro, which opened in April, and has some more to come.

“I took six months, studied the area (and) listened to what people wanted,” he said.

The changes relate to his restaurant being in a former Quiznos building on Tyler just south of Central.

“I was trying to do the impossible,” Attari says of having a sit-down restaurant in a former fast-food spot.

“Some people respected that, and some people didn’t get it,” he says. “Maybe I confused them with the idea.”

So Attari is going to a more casual, order-at-the-counter concept.

He’s changed the name of the restaurant to Pitas & Paninis, though the new sign isn’t up yet.

Attari says his concept is similar to Chipotle in that customers order at the counter and watch as their food is prepared. He says he thinks that will work better for that part of Wichita.

“The whole area is a fast food area,” he says.

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Adrian’s owner contemplates a west-side restaurant

UPDATED — If you’re hungry for Mediterranean food but don’t have time for a sit-down meal, you may have another option on the west side in the future.

George Matta, who owns Adrian’s near 21st and Rock Road, is contemplating opening a fast-casual version of his restaurant.

He’s looked at the former Starbucks space near Central and Tyler and the former Firkin and Bull space at NewMarket Square.

“It’s nothing really concrete,” Matta says. “It’s just a thought.”

Nothing likely will happen for several months, if at all.

“Wichita is missing this healthy fast food,” says Adrian’s general manager Ashraf Jaradat.

The restaurant potentially would serve Mediterranean food Chipotle style, with customers forming a line for food and having several choices of meat and vegetables.

“Most people . . . they have no time to dine in,” Jaradat says.

The quick dishes would include wraps, gyros, sandwiches and shawarma.

We’ll let you know if a deal happens.

Panda Express to open at One Kellogg Place

WICHITA — Panda Express has chosen One Kellogg Place on East Kellogg where Wal-Mart is for its first Wichita site.

Last year, Have You Heard? reported the California-based chain of more than 1,300 restaurants wanted to come to the Wichita area.

The first Panda will be in a freestanding 2,449-square-foot building with a drive-through between Pizza Hut and IHOP.

It will be ready in the fall.

“We just like the energy that surrounds that area,” says Susan Flesher, Panda’s real estate manager.

She specifically points to the nearby traffic and daytime population.

“We just felt like that was a good first site.”

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Panda Express to open several Wichita sites, including a possible two this year

WICHITA — Panda Express now confirms what Have You Heard? first reported was a possibility in September.

The national chain is making its first foray into the Wichita market with four to six restaurants in the next two to three years.

“We’d love to open our first one this year — two if we can,” says Susan Flesher, the chain’s senior regional real estate manager.

The company, based in Rosemead, Calif., has 1,300 sites serving Chinese food in a fast-casual style nationally.

Flesher compares Panda Express’ format to Chipotle, where diners first select a starch — steamed or fried rice or chow mein — and vegetables followed by two to three entrees.

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