A&W to open in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize Road in June

WICHITA — As Eric Estes is getting ready to build his first Wichita Qdoba Mexican Grill where Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant & Club will close at Central and Rock, his first Wichita A&W is getting closer to opening.

“I think it’s the longest lasting restaurant brand since 1919,” Estes says. “It’s the granddaddy of all restaurant brands as far as heritage and age.”

The restaurant is opening in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize Road.

“It’s a neat concept,” Estes says. “We’ll be making the root beer fresh … every day.”

There will be frosted mugs, too.

Estes says lots of people seem to remember the “family” of burgers the chain once was known for, with a Mama, Papa and Baby burger.

“They were really famous for that.”

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Qdoba Mexican Grill to open in Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant & Club space

UPDATED — It turns out Qdoba Mexican Grill is what’s going to open in the space Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant & Club will be vacating at Central and Rock, and it will be unlike any other in the national chain.

“Central and Rock Road is a great intersection,” says restaurateur Eric Estes.

He plans a special theme for the site.

“Qdoba was going to kind of let us step out a little bit on this,” Estes says.

He says the interior will celebrate Wichita’s aviation and military history.

“That’s kind of what shaped Wichita,” Estes says. “It’s part of the Wichita DNA. … We kind of have this inspiration, if you will.”

The restaurant will have an aviation theme and feature a tail and propeller from a 1941 AT-6 Texan.

The theme is important to Estes, who says his grandfather was working as a riveter at Boeing for his first job when he received orders to go to Italy in World War II.

“It just kind of shapes everything we do,” Estes says of the heritage.

It was summer 2012 when he first told Have You Heard? he’d be bringing Qdobas to the state.

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.

Estes says there are a lot of healthy options, such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes, along with kids’ meals.

His first Qdoba opened in Hutchinson in June, and Estes says it’s doing well. Another is under construction in Hays.

Estes says work on the east-side Qdoba will start in June, but he’s not sure if the restaurant will be in the same building that was home to Yen Ching for 30 years or if he’ll build a new one.

“We’d love not to demolish it,” he says. “We like to repurpose buildings where we can.”

He adds, though, “If we do repurpose it, then all we’d be repurposing is four walls.”

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal.

Look for an August or September opening. After that, Estes hopes to open another Qdoba on the west side, though he hasn’t started looking for a site yet.

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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Long John Silver’s Freshside Grille to open Feb. 15 with Five Guys Burgers and Fries

WICHITA — No one planned it this way, but it turns out Long John Silver’s Freshside Grille is going to open Feb. 15, which is the same day Five Guys Burgers and Fries is planning to open.

The restaurants are in a new center in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize.

Long John franchisee Eric Estes says the goal was to get open by Ash Wednesday, which is the 17th, because a lot of customers on the west side said they’d like another option for fish.

He says the new Long John’s will be a more upscale version of the restaurant, with cherry wood furniture and digital menus.

“It’s very upscale compared to anything else we have.”

Ink Construction built Long John Silver’s and Five Guys.

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A&W drive-ins are still coming to Wichita; so is a Long John Silver’s Freshside Grille

mugWICHITA — Readers have been wondering if an A&W drive-in is really coming to Wichita.

Last August, Have You Heard? reported that former Sonic franchisee Eric Estes would bring back the A&W concept, which has been out of the market for decades.

He didn’t open the restaurants here this year as he originally thought he would — he went to Garden City instead — but Estes is still planning on it.

“Oh, yeah,” he says. “We’re absolutely doing it.”

He plans to break ground this year and open late next winter or early spring.

The only question is where.

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