TJ’s Burger House owner John Abdayem wants to erase confusion over restaurant

UPDATED — It’s been more than nine months since TJ’s Burger House owner John Abdayem has been gone from his east-side TJ’s, but customers are still confused about his role there, especially now that the restaurant has closed.

Abdayem wants to be clear about a couple of things. Most importantly, he says, his Delano TJ’s remains open.

The former TJ’s that was on the east side at Harry and Webb recently closed, but it’s been since May that Abdayem was there. The circumstances surrounding his departure are in dispute.

Abdayem says he hadn’t planned on leaving but that his landlord, Homer Morgan, unexpectedly locked him out. Morgan’s attorney, Ed Robinson, says Abdayem broke his lease and left owing Morgan about $32,000.

“What actually happened is entirely different than what he’s describing,” Robinson says.

He says Morgan sued Abdayem in Sedgwick County District Court, and Abdayem has brought a counterclaim.

Abdayem says that until a week ago when it closed, the restaurant continued to operate as Burger House, which he says led some people to think he was still there.

Regardless of the legal situation and its outcome, Abdayem says he continues to get questions from customers and wants everyone to understand the situation and that it’s not related to his Delano restaurant.

East-side TJ’s Burger House closes over a dispute, landlord opens Burger House

WICHITA — TJ’s Burger House owner John Abdayem is out of his east-side restaurant, but he says it’s not by choice.

Abdayem still has his Delano location, but he’s distancing himself from the former TJ’s at Harry and Webb with a sign at his Delano restaurant and through a Facebook post saying his landlord has inappropriately taken over the east-side space, which is now known as the Burger House.

Abdayem says he was interested in possibly closing his restaurant so a friend could open a combination hamburger and hookah business there, “which made the landlord very angry.”

Landlord Homer Morgan didn’t return a call for comment, but an employee of his says it was Abdayem who closed the business.

“The intention was not to even close until the end of June or even July,” Abdayem says. He says Morgan “went behind my back and told the employees of the plan on Wednesday.”

“He told them I was going to shut it down that weekend.”

Abdayem, who says he’s considering his options for getting the space back, says he can’t get back on the premises to collect his belongings. He’s also concerned his customers will continue going to the restaurant and not have the same experience as when he ran it.

“I want people to know that (my business) is no way affiliated with the east side.”


Pitas & Paninis closes; Roni Attari continues catering

WICHITA — Pitas & Paninisbrief existence has come to an end.

Owner Roni Attari opened the restaurant on Tyler just south of Central with Jason-Paul Febres as Yuca Latin Bistro. He then parted with Febres during the April 2010 opening and changed the name in December.

Now, he says he’s going to concentrate on catering.

“I just couldn’t give the restaurant, you know, 100 percent of my time,” Attari says.

Help was an issue, he says.

“If I wasn’t there (food) wasn’t coming out the same way.”

In addition to continuing his own catering, Attari will handle catering for his uncles, Tony Abdayem, who owns La Galette, and John Abdayem, who owns T.J.’s Burger House.

“That way (customers) just have more variety of what to order,” Attari says.

He says he prefers catering to running a restaurant. He says there’s more flexibility with catering and a better profit margin, too.

Not that he wouldn’t consider opening another restaurant. Attari says he’ll consider it very carefully before trying again, though.

T.J.’s Burger House to open on the east side

WICHITA — He’s waited 10 years just to be sure, but now T.J.’s Burger House owner John Abdayem is ready for his second location.

Thanks to what he calls “unbelievable support,” Abdayem says, “I think we’re strong enough to handle another one on the east side.”

The first T.J.’s is in Delano at 1003 W. Douglas.

The new T.J.’s will open in late September near Harry and Webb behind Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant.

“The minute we walked in, it’s like, it was made for T.J.’s,” Abdayem says of the space, which used to be a diner.

He found vintage-style tables and chairs with chrome and red covers, a checkered floor and neon signs.

“It’s like that decor was made for a hamburger parlor.”

The space will seat at least 150. The Delano T.J.’s holds 120.

Abdayem’s brother, Tony Abdayem, has La Galette just down from T.J.’s. John Abdayem helped start that years ago.

And his nephew, Roni Attari, owns the new Yuca Bistro on the west side.

When John Abdayem and his wife, Tracie, were starting T.J.’s, they decided to name it after themselves.

“It was supposed to be T&J’s, but it didn’t sound good together, so we called it T.J.’s,” Abdayem says.

Like the existing T.J.’s, the new one will be open for lunch and dinner six days a week.

“We’ve had such a big success over here,” Abdayem says. “Obviously, we’re doing something right for 10 years to survive.”