Laham Development starts new development; LongHorn Steakhouse is first tenant

WICHITA — Construction has begun at Laham Development’s latest development, which is on almost six acres at the northwest corner of Kellogg and Towne East Mall Drive.

LongHorn Steakhouse is the first tenant to sign a lease there. The chain already has a Wichita site on the west side near 21st and Maize Road.

Its east-side restaurant will be 6,200 square feet, which will allow for more than 240 diners, and will open in September.

On property next to Laham’s, Old Chicago is already in business, and further east BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse is under construction.

Other deals are in the works for the new development, says Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development, which also has Bradley Fair, Regency Lakes and Plazzio among other developments.

“We have had interest from several different groups for different types of businesses,” Erickson says. “We’re evaluating all our options.”

That could be more restaurants, retail or even a hotel.

“We hope to have announcements on some of the other parcels later this summer.”

Hey, what’s going on there . . . ?

UPDATED — There are several pockets of activity that have readers wondering what’s going on. Here’s an update — or, in some cases, a reminder.

– There’s more construction happening near where the new LongHorn Steakhouse has been built in front of the Lowe’s near 29th and Maize, but it’s not for another restaurant or shop.

It’s simply an extra parking lot behind the steak house, which will be opening soon.

– Colorado-based Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage is close to opening in the former Borders Books space at 1715 N. Rock Road.

The grocery will open Nov. 23. The chain’s first Kansas store opened Nov. 11, 2010, in Lawrence.

The store sells organic produce, gluten-free products and offers nutritional education and counseling.

What shoppers won’t find is anything with high-fructose corn syrup, sugar substitutes or hydrogenated oils, among other things, which — as a spokeswoman puts it— makes studying labels a little easier.

Right at Home, which offers in-home care and assistance, has moved just down from where it’s been in the shopping center on the northwest corner of 21st and Ridge.

The business this week moved into the former Ruthie’s Hallmark space, which offers more room.

– Finally, except for Chick-fil-A questions, the most popular question we’ve heard lately is, “What’s that building by the McDonald’s at 21st and Rock?”

Laham Development is building a new retail center at Tallgrass Plaza, which is at the northeast corner of 21st and Rock Road where a BP filling station used to be.

Vitamin Shoppe is the first announced tenant for the 6,200-square-foot center. Look for an announcement on the second tenant soon.

LongHorn Steakhouse eyes Wichita for sites

longhornWICHITA — It looks like the 29th and Maize area is continuing to attract restaurants.

Tuesday, Panda Express confirmed it’s putting an almost 3,000-square-foot restaurant to the north of the Lowe’s driveway near where several other restaurants opened this year.

Now, it looks like LongHorn Steakhouse is eyeing the area.

There are 334 LongHorn Steakhouses in 31 states — 32 with the addition of Iowa next month.

The chain, which plans to open about 25 new restaurants this year, is “kind of progressing west,” says spokesman Rich Jeffers.

There are several LongHorn Steakhouses on the eastern side of the state, including one that’s coming to Manhattan.

Jeffers won’t say if Wichita is slated to get the restaurant. He says the company typically only confirms a restaurant is opening after construction starts.

Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, which also owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden among other brands, acquired LongHorn Steakhouse in 2007.

“It is a steakhouse that is kind of designed in a very upscale, casual design motif, if you will,” Jeffers says.

When the first LongHorn Steakhouse opened in 1981, it was more of a peanuts-on-the-floor kind of place.

“It’s evolved,” Jeffers says. Today, it’s “a little bit more sophisticated dining room.”

Since the LongHorn Steakhouse in Manhattan is already announced but still won’t open until early 2011, don’t look for one in Wichita in the immediate future.

We’ll keep you posted if and when a deal happens.