Latest Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Panera Bread to open in mid-February

WICHITA — Construction is coming along at the Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Panera Bread at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and University (between Maple and Kellogg) across from Lowe’s.

“We’re skin tight,” says Randy Simon.

That’s what business partner Scott Redler told him Friday, which Simon understands to mean the frame is up along with a layer of insulation, among other developments.

“I’m not much of a construction guy as you can tell.”

Simon says the partners recently purchased another nearby house.

“When we got to looking at it, it just looked like we could stand a little extra parking — we hope. We hope the volume’s good enough that it will warrant it.”

Look for the restaurants to open in mid-February.

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.

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 is days away from signing for east-side space

WICHITA — Next to repeated Chick-fil-A questions — when’s it coming? where? — the next fast food restaurant we hear the most questions about is Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

When is the chain going to add an east-side Wichita location?

Answer: soon.

Franchisee Jeff Miller says he’s just this close to signing a lease.

The Five Guys in front of Lowe’s near 29th North and Maize opened in February.

Sources have reported several east-side sites Miller has eyed.

He reportedly looked at reconfiguring part of the former Ethan Allen space near Central and Rock, but that’s where Mattress Hub is now going.

Comotara Center at 29th North and Rock Road is another reported possibility.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Miller has focused on Rock Road.

So where’s the final spot?

Miller will tell us within days.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Panera Bread coming to Ridge Road and University

WICHITA — Scott Redler has been searching for additional west-side space for Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers for years.

His business partner, Randy Simon, has been looking for space for a second west-side Panera Bread.

Now, they’ve found what they need in the same spot.

Redler and Simon finalized a deal today to buy land owned by Leisa Lowry to build at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and University (between Maple and Kellogg) across from Lowe’s.

“We were very fortunate to get this location,” Redler says.

Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate handled the deal.

Simon had a letter of intent with Ablah five years ago for space near there, but it didn’t work out.

“I’ve always had that area as a priority for us,” Simon says.

He and Redler like that the property is in the heart of a residential area with strong businesses nearby, too. Accessibility to Kellogg was key as well.

The almost 4,300-square-foot Panera will share a wall with the 3,200-square-foot Freddy’s.

“It’ll be conjoined at the hip,” Simon says.

Construction will start soon and the restaurants should be ready to open in about 150 days.

The Freddy’s on 21st near Tyler, which opened in 2002, is the original Freddy’s.

“That restaurant is amazing for us,” Redler says, “and just keeps getting busier and busier.”

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Cinnamon’s Deli to open Thursday near west-side Lowe’s

WICHITA — Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Long John Silver’s Freshside Grille are getting lots of attention for opening next week in front of Lowe’s near 29th Street North and Maize Road.

But that doesn’t bother Cinnamon’s Deli owner Larry Wilson, who is opening in the same building Thursday.

“I’m going to beat ’em,” Wilson says.

This is his fourth Cinnamon’s in Wichita.

“I like the traffic count,” Wilson says of the area.

There may be a lot of other restaurants there, he says, but “there’s a lot of customers also.”

Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the lease.

Wilson, who opened his first Cinnamon’s in 1986, hopes to open two more here and possibly one in Derby. Don’t look for the new restaurants anytime soon, though.

With a tight market for financing, Wilson says, “I’m going to have to pull back . . . for a little while.”

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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Five Guys Burgers and Fries to open Feb. 15

WICHITA — The much-anticipated Five Guys Burgers and Fries now has a firm opening date.

The restaurant, which will be in the retail center in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize, will open Feb. 15.

The restaurant will begin hiring at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Courtyard by Marriott in Old Town.

Franchisee Jeff Miller says he plans on hiring 40 to 50 people. Starting wages are $7.75, but employees have an opportunity for potentially substantial weekly bonuses.

Five Guys hires a third party to visit its restaurants twice weekly. Employees working that shift have an opportunity to share about $1,300 a week if they perform well.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Five Guys paid almost $3.5 million in bonuses to its hourly workers at 500 restaurants.

“That’s a lot of money,” Miller says.

He’s now negotiating for space on the east side as well.

“We would love to have a store open by Aug. 1, and if we can beat that date, we’re definitely going to try.”

Panda Express to open several Wichita sites, including a possible two this year

WICHITA — Panda Express now confirms what Have You Heard? first reported was a possibility in September.

The national chain is making its first foray into the Wichita market with four to six restaurants in the next two to three years.

“We’d love to open our first one this year — two if we can,” says Susan Flesher, the chain’s senior regional real estate manager.

The company, based in Rosemead, Calif., has 1,300 sites serving Chinese food in a fast-casual style nationally.

Flesher compares Panda Express’ format to Chipotle, where diners first select a starch — steamed or fried rice or chow mein — and vegetables followed by two to three entrees.

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Wichita Health and Wellness to open at Chadsworth Plaza

WICHITA — Chiropractor Jeff Fenn is opening Wichita Health and Wellness at Chadsworth Plaza next to Lowe’s near 21st and Maize.

“My new clinic’s going to focus on . . . more of a wellness approach,” Fenn says.

He’ll have a physical therapist and nutritionist at the 2,000-square-foot office, and he’ll offer things like spinal decompression, weight loss guidance and arthritis treatments.

Fenn likes the area for “the vibe, the busyness.”

The office will open in late February.