Rita’s Italian Ice to offer free ice desserts Monday and Tuesday

WICHITA — It’s rare that “free” and “tasty” go together, but that’s what the new Rita’s Italian Ice will offer Monday and Tuesday when it opens next to the Five Guys Burgers and Fries near 29th and Rock Road.

“We are excited to turn people onto that product,” franchisee Jeff Miller says.

So he and Rita’s corporate will be offering free ice – not custard – both days.

Miller says people here are already familiar with custard.

“They’re not familiar with Italian ice,” he says.

Miller says customers tend to think Rita’s Italian Ice might be shaved ice or slushies before trying it.

“It’s not what they think it is,” he says.

“It’s just so much more than that. … We want people to try it and have the experience.”

Rita’s Italian Ice to open next to east-side Five Guys Burgers and Fries in a month

WICHITA — The sign for Wichita’s first Rita’s Italian Ice went up Thursday next to the Five Guys Burgers and Fries near 29th and Rock Road.

“We are actually in Philadelphia right now finishing up our training on all these wonderful treats we’re bringing to town,” franchisee Jeff Miller says of himself and his brother, Jay.

“We’re on target for no later than the 27th (of March) to be open.”

As Have You Heard? reported in October, each Rita’s will be its own business but will be done in tandem with Five Guys restaurants.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest from people who have moved from this area,” Miller says of Wichitans from the Philadelphia area, where Rita’s is based.

The chain sells custard and flavored ice that almost has a creamy texture.

“We are just so excited about this product,” Miller says. “It is fantastic stuff.”

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Local Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisees to open Rita’s Italian Ice

WICHITA — It may be hard to believe that anyone could still be hungry after a Five Guys Burgers and Fries meal, but franchisee Jeff Miller says the biggest question he and his brother, Jay, hear at their restaurants is, “Do you have dessert?”

The answer has been, “No,” until now.

“We’ve been looking for a way to satisfy that demand for a while,” Jeff Miller says.

The Millers have signed a development deal to bring Rita’s Italian Ice to Kansas.

“This product is amazing,” Miller says. Wichitans “are just going to be so thrilled.”

Each Rita’s will be its own business but done in tandem with Five Guys.

“It’s a little complicated,” Miller says.

For the first Rita’s, he says they’ll steal a small amount of space from the Five Guys restaurant in Comotara Center at 29th and Rock Road. They’ll also use space next door that they’d previously planned to keep for training.

“We just haven’t utilized it the way we like,” Miller says.

Jay Miller used to live in Philadelphia where Rita’s is based.

Jeff Miller says he can picture people in the Midwest who are unfamiliar with Italian ice saying, “Aww, it’s just a fancy slushy.”

He says the ice is “so much more than that.”

“It has a texture to it that’s almost creamy,” Miller says. “You’re going to find it hard to believe.”

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries to open Tuesday

WICHITA — If you were hoping to celebrate the new Five Guys Burgers and Fries downtown location by dining there today, you’re out of luck.

The opening at the southwest corner of Douglas and Ida was delayed a day due to construction and permitting issues.

Franchisee Jeff Miller says it will open Tuesday, though.

For now, hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., but Miller says he’s willing to adjust that if customers show an interest in dining later.

You don’t say

Five Guys doesn’t have booze, beer or breakfast. I think @anchorwichita will survive.”

— Wichita freelance writer Scott Elpers’ tweet Thursday in reply to another Twitter user’s concern that the Anchor will be adversely affected by the new Five Guys locating so close to it

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is coming downtown to Douglas and Ida

UPDATED — There’s a lot of downtown news this week with more approvals coming on the area’s master plan.

What might bring a little more immediate excitement is Five Guys Burgers and Fries‘ confirmation that it has a deal to open Sept. 1 at the southwest corner of Douglas and Ida.

Have You Heard? first reported that was a possibility in August.

Five Guys franchisee Jeff Miller says he’ll locate on Douglas across from the Anchor, which is on the southeast corner of that intersection, though the city’s Historic Preservation Board still needs to approve the restaurant’s design.

“We’re pretty confident that they’ll be real happy with what we’re bringing to them,” Miller says. “We don’t anticipate any problems there.”

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Panda Express to open on Maize Road in front of Lowe’s

WICHITA — California-based Panda Express has chosen a second Wichita site.

The first Panda will open in early December at One Kellogg Place on East Kellogg where Walmart is.

The second will be on Maize Road in front of Lowe’s.

“It’s the logical place for us to go,” says Susan Flesher, Panda’s real estate manager.

She likes the new retail stores, especially big ones like Lowe’s, opening in the area.

The restaurant will locate on the second pad site north of the Lowe’s entrance.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Long John Silver’s Freshside Grille and Cinnamon’s Deli are on the pad sites to the south.

The west-side Panda will be 2,700 square feet, which is a bit bigger than the east side’s 2,448 square feet.

Flesher says the extra space is for some expanded offerings, though it’s not yet clear what those offerings will be.

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal for the space and is representing Panda in the market.

Look for the west-side Panda to open this spring.

Anchor owner plans changes, including adding a banquet hall

schaneWICHITA — Almost six years after opening the popular Anchor restaurant and bar on Douglas just east of Old Town, owner Schane Gross is expanding.

“We’ve gotten so busy, especially with going nonsmoking,” she says.

Gross hired Farha Construction to help her with a couple of key changes.

First, she’s knocking down the wall that separates the two sides of the business.

That’s in part because she wants the Anchor to feel more like a restaurant.

“Our food sales are easily 70 percent of our sales,” she says.

Because of the current dividing wall, Gross says the bar area seems even bigger.

“It has such a huge presence.”

The back room at the Anchor traditionally is where customers can book parties and events, but now Gross is building a new banquet hall to the east of the Anchor where Honie’s Wig & Beauty Supply used to be.

“We have so many people wanting to do private parties,” Gross says.

She doesn’t like having to turn diners away when there’s a private party, in part because the parties are less lucrative.

“Plus, we upset our regulars.”

The new event space will hold about 140 people or even more without tables and chairs.

The physical bar at the Anchor also is being rebuilt, Gross says.

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries chooses Comotara Center for its next site

WICHITA — Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisee Jeff Miller confirms what we suspected about his next site.

“You were right about Comotara,” he says of the shopping center near 29th and Rock.

“We are going to be in the Material Comforts location.”

That store already has closed.

Miller signed the new lease today and expects to be open by November.

The space is 4,800 square feet. About 3,500 of that will be for the restaurant, which is substantially bigger than the 2,300 square feet Five Guys has on the west side in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize.

“When it’s busy, we’re very crowded, and we’d like to have a little more space for our guests,” Miller says.

“We feel like we’ve been so well received in town, we’d just like a little bigger space.”

The rest of the building will be used to train employees in the market.

Miller also is eyeing several downtown sites.

“We haven’t committed to anything,” he says.

He is shopping, though.

“We’ll have several more in the area.”

Five Guys Burgers and Fries eyeing downtown for third site

WICHITA — It seems downtown won’t be left out of the Five Guys Burgers and Fries craze.

The west side Five Guys has been open since February, and an announcement about an east-side Five Guys likely is mere hours away.

“I’ve looked at several places downtown,” franchisee Jeff Miller says. “It all depends on several factors.”

The southwest corner of Ida and Douglas, across from where La Chinita may go, is looking likely.

Miller won’t be specific at this point.

“I’d like to tell you that it would be walking distance from your offices,” he says of The Eagle’s 825 E. Douglas Old Town address. “It might not be, but it probably would be.”

It could be dangerous having those Five Guys fries this close.

Given Miller’s timetable, better start exercising now.

“The odds are good that it’s sooner than later.”