Former Wichitans Dennis Thompson and Doug Glendenning to bring Firebirds Wood Fired Grill to the Waterfront

The Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II stands in front of the future home of Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.

WICHITA — A visit home to his native Wichita is what’s leading Lone Star Steakhouse founder Dennis Thompson to bring his latest restaurant concept to the Waterfront.

Thompson and former Wichitan Doug Glendenning and a private New York equity firm own 23 Firebirds Wood Fired Grills and have six more under construction.

Thompson, who founded the company in 2000 in Charlotte, N.C., planned to go to Oklahoma City and Tulsa next but changed his mind.

“I happened to be in Wichita for a class reunion,” he says.

While here, Thompson toured the former Brooks Brothers store at the Waterfront development at 13th and Webb Road.

The 7,650-square-foot space is on the corner of the retail section of the Waterfront and is known for its decorative domed roof.

“It’s the most prominent spot in the retail center,” says the Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II.

Glendenning, the former president of Lone Star, calls the Waterfront “one of the best areas in the greater Wichita area for sure.”

“I used to live just a couple of blocks from there, so I know that area very well,” he says.

Glendenning is a founder of Firebirds, too, but he says Thompson really created it.

Thompson’s Aspen home inspired what initially was a Colorado lodge theme.

“Over time … it’s evolved,” Glendenning says. “It’s a lot less Colorado feel and more just kind of upscale casual.”

Thompson says he wanted to start a concept that was more upscale than an Outback or similar restaurants but not quite as high end as a Morton’s or a Ruth’s Chris.

“The theme is based around steaks, but we’re not perceived necessarily as a steakhouse,” Thompson says.

There are lots of wood-fired dishes, many of which have a southwestern flair.

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East-side Timberline Steakhouse & Grill has closed after 12 years in business

WICHITA — After a dozen years in business, the east-side Timberline Steakhouse & Grill has closed.

“It’s a tear-jerker,” says Scott Redler, who owned the restaurant with Bill Simon.

The west-side Timberline — the original in the chain, which opened in 1997 — will remain open.

The lease was up at the east restaurant at 8310 E. 21st St.

“It wasn’t worth renewing a lease and continuing,” Redler says.

“We were doing very, very well on the weekend,” he says. On weekdays, though, Redler found that people didn’t want to spend the average ticket price of $16 or $17.

“The reality is when you look at this segment of dining . . . the higher the check average, the more challenging it’s been.”

Redler points to similar restaurants, such as Lone Star Steakhouse, which he says has closed about half its restaurants in the last five years.

Redler says people’s incomes don’t make a difference in what they’re willing to spend for meals these days.

“Everybody watches what they spend more carefully now because of current economic situations,” he says.

That has hurt Timberline but helped Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, which Redler and Simon own with Simon’s brother, Randy.

“What I like to say (is) just because the economy’s bad doesn’t mean people learned how to cook,” Redler says.

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Wichitans Ray Haskell and Reg Redding plan Saturday book signing for “The Game of Wealth”

WICHITA — Some people get lucky and become wealthy without having to work for it.

For the rest of us, Wichitans Ray Haskell and Reg Redding have written “The Game of Wealth: A Strategy for Winning Wealth and Living a Full Life.”

“It’s a fresh perspective on how to look at where you are in life and what you need to do, especially in some unsure and uncertain times,” Haskell says.

They purposely chose a game analogy, Redding says, because “everybody can relate to a game.”

Redding is an accountant with Lone Star Steakhouse. Haskell used to work there and now does estate planning, financial analysis and insurance sales, mostly for seniors.

The two will have a book signing Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

Along with money-saving tips, Redding says the book explains the concept of taking responsibility.

“That was one thing that we just didn’t see out there in other books,” he says.

The book also explores being wealthy in other areas outside of finances, though Haskell says that’s a key emphasis.

“It’s not as hard as some people think,” he says.