Finns Lounge and Revolution Rock Bar have new owners

UPDATED — Finns Lounge and Revolution Rock Bar are reopening, but Greg Finley won’t own or run either place.

Finley owned Finns Lounge, an Old Town staple, for more than a decade and recently ran Revolution for Melad Stephan. Then Finley ran into liquor license issues.

Now, Amy Stepien, who used to work at Finns, and her husband, Jason, are working on reopening the bar at 131 N. Rock Island.

“It is still going to be Finns Lounge because Finns has been known in Old Town,” Amy Stepien says.

After some freshening inside the bar, she says, “It’s pretty much going to be the same.”

Stepien adds, “I just want it to be known that I don’t have any affiliation with Greg.”

Nor is she a part of the new ownership group at Revolution, which is at 233 S. Mosley.

Nick Dean is opening the business with brothers Kurt and Kyle Okumura.

“We all used to work together at Finns Lounge,” Dean says.

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Revolution Rock Bar’s future is in flux; questions exist regarding Finns Lounge

WICHITA — Revolution Rock Bar has closed, but it’s not certain if that is permanent or not.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do with that yet,” says Jason Smith, director of operations for Melad Stephan’s Empire Restaurant Management.

Smith says the Old Town bar’s liquor license has expired.

“We don’t know if we’re going to renew it and reopen,” he says. “Business wasn’t where we wanted it to be.”

There’s more to the story, though.

Greg Finley of Finns Lounge has been running Revolution. In June, Have You Heard reported that Stephan said Finley was running the business for him until Finley could get his own liquor license and make changes, which could include a new concept.

According to state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division documents, Finley first applied for a license in May and was “denied that application due to Finley’s being disqualified by a previous revocation.” Finley applied for the license as president and sole owner of Sin, which does business as Revolution Rock Bar.

In August, according the documents, the ABC received a liquor license request from Finns Inc, doing business as Revolution Rock Bar, and Andrea Lambert was listed as president and sole owner.

The ABC conducted an investigation and found that the application showed Lambert’s address and e-mail as the same ones Finley had used. Upon interviewing Lambert, the ABC said Lambert said she never lived at that address. She said Finns was in her name, and she was signing paperwork for it, because of Finley’s inability to obtain a license. She said she was doing it for money.

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Luca Italian Kitchen closes; YO-B to open

UPDATED — Melad Stephan has sold his Luca Italian Kitchen.

Another downtown restaurateur, Nabil Bacha, took possession of it this afternoon.

“We wanted to bring something a bit different,” says Bacha, who owns Cafe Bel Ami at 229 E. William.

He considered doing something possibly called Bel Ami Bistro, which would have been similar to Stephan’s popular Uptown Bistro that was at the entrance to Old Town Square before Luca.

Bacha decided that’s too much like what is already in Old Town, though.

“They’re all competing against each other,” he says of sit-down restaurants there. “There’s just too many.”

Bacha decided to go another route with yogurt, custard and one really, really tasty burger, which he says will be similar to the popular In-N-Out Burger on the West Coast.

The name is tentatively YO-B, for yogurt and burgers.

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Deal to buy Luca Italian Kitchen falls through, but Pho Hot Bistro owner Danny Nguyen still looking to open in Old Town

WICHITA — Restaurateur Melad Stephan is back from an overseas trip, so now it’s possible to ask about a little situation that happened with his Luca Italian Kitchen a few weeks ago.

Luca, the Old Town restaurant that replaced Stephan’s once-popular Uptown Bistro, has struggled since opening in 2011. It briefly closed around the time Stephan left for his native Lebanon and a European tour, but the closure wasn’t related to the trip.

Stephan had been negotiating for months with Pho Hot Bistro owner Danny Nguyen to sell him the restaurant.

Nguyen’s Vietnamese restaurant is at 306 N. Rock Road, and he’s interested in having one in Old Town as well.

“We just couldn’t come to an agreement,” Stephan says.

He says he thought the deal would go through, so he stopped ordering food. Stephan says when the sale didn’t happen, he’d already run out of food and had to briefly close.

Nguyen isn’t discussing what happened.

Luca is now open for dinner only. Stephan says he’s saving money by not having to pay for lunch labor. He says the restaurant will remain open, though he adds his standard line: “Everything I have is for sale for the right price.”

Nguyen says he’s still interested in coming downtown.

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Gianluca Sciagata is no longer at Luca Italian Kitchen but name won’t change

UPDATED — Last year when Melad Stephan told Have You Heard? the name of his new Old Town restaurant would be Luca Italian Kitchen after Chef Gianluca Sciagata, he acknowledged that Sciagata might not stay forever but that the name would.

“Ahhh, well, the name will stay,” Stephan said, quickly adding, “I hope he’s going to be around for a while.”

He didn’t stay long, though.

Stephan says Sciagata, who came from Aspen, Colo., was not happy in Wichita and has left the restaurant.

Former Ya Ya’s Eurobistro Chef Damon Stephens is now the Luca chef.

Stephan says the name won’t change because Sciagata “doesn’t have the trademark on (the) Luca name.”

 

You don’t say

“I gave that up at home. I don’t know why I wouldn’t do it here.”

Melad Stephan, joking about doing laundry at his Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square after some freshly washed, hot rags created a smoky haze Monday

Unveiled, a bridal accessory shop, to open in Eaton Place in January

WICHITA — Another new business is coming to Eaton Place at Douglas and St. Francis, and it’s almost as sweet as the bakery that used to be in the building.

Sarah Brooks is opening Unveiled, a bridal accessory shop, in the approximately 800 square feet where the Eaton Steakhouse’s bakery once was.

“The accessories are just a personal love of mine,” Brooks says. “It changes the whole dynamic of the dress.”

She sells dresses, too, at her McPherson bridal shop, Kari Lynn’s, but that won’t be her focus at Unveiled.

“Everything but the dress I guess is a good way to say it,” Brooks says. “That’s where all your bling is. … We felt like it was a niche that we could really provide beyond the dress.”

Brooks says she wants to create a shop where brides can bring in dresses and “then we can just deck them out.”

She’ll sell headpieces, tiaras, jewelry and shoes along with a few other items.

“I haven’t nailed it all down.”

Brooks is keeping her McPherson shop but moving to Wichita, where she has family, to start the new one in January.

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Melad Stephan to debut Schwarma Truck

WICHITA — You knew it was just a matter of time.

The ubiquitous Melad Stephan has done just about everything else related to food – bars, restaurants, catering – so naturally now he’s going to have a food truck, too.

“I’m pretty much about 90 percent done with the deal,” he says.

He hopes to debut his Schwarma Truck in November. Stephan plans to sell dishes popular in his native Lebanon, including chicken and beef schwarma, gyros, falafel, hummus and fattoush, among other things.

Like the other popular food trucks spinning about town, Stephan will rotate his among businesses and events.

“We’ll definitely want to do one day in Old Town and compete with myself, right?” he says, joking about his Old Town businesses – Sabor Latin Bar & Grille, Luca Italian Kitchen, Oeno Wine Bar, Caffe Moderne, the coming Revolution Rock Bar and his Empire Catering at Eaton Place.

“I got too much going on, don’t I?” Stephan says. “Honestly, it’s just one of my kid’s idea.”

His son Jordan, 21, will operate the truck.

“He’s been bugging me about it for a couple of months,” Stephan says. “I’m just going to let him live the American dream.”

The food business is not Stephan’s dream for his children.

“I didn’t think I wanted any of my kids to do what I do,” he says.

It’s happening anyway, at least with one of them.

“I don’t know, must be in the blood or something,” he says.

Melad Stephan to open Revolution Rock Bar and move Empire Catering into Eaton Place

WICHITA — Melad Stephan is growing his Old Town empire, literally and figuratively.

Stephan’s Empire Catering is moving into Eaton Place at Douglas and St. Francis where Eaton Steakhouse used to be.

“We’re really going to attack the catering big time,” he says.

Instead of spending money to put in a kitchen there, Stephan is taking over the former Whiskey Creek space, which most recently was the Air Capital Grill, to use that kitchen for all his catering.

In the front of that space, which is at 233 N. Mosley, Stephan is putting in a bar called Revolution Rock Bar.

The building isn’t as visible as some restaurants in Old Town.

“It’s more like a bar-hopping place,” Stephan says of that area. “By putting a bar in there, it fits right in there with the other bars.”

Unlike Stephan’s Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square, which caters to an age 30-and-up crowd, Revolution will cater to a younger set.

“We’re going to do some exciting things in the front of the building to attract people in,” Stephan says. “We’re going to play music from the ’80s and things like that.”

He’ll have a DJ and show music videos on the wall.

The bar should open by early October.

Stephan hopes to open at the Eaton by early September.

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You don’t say

“I thought I was back home. … You just need a couple camels out there.”

– Restaurateur Melad Stephan on how the tents camped at the new Chick-fil-A remind him of his native Lebanon