Metro Grill owner explains departure

WICHITA — Metro Grill owner Michael Gonzalez wasn’t available last week to discuss why he abruptly left his restaurant at the Waterfront, which his landlord said he gutted on the way out.

“There was more to it than what they said, of course,” Gonzalez says.

“I’ve been so depressed for the last couple of weeks, but life goes on.”

He says there were a number of issues that caused him to leave.

“I was expecting volume like Andover,” Gonzalez says of his former restaurant there, which someone else now owns.

He says his lunch and weekend business was great, but the rest of his sales weren’t enough.

“That was just too much of a high rent to sustain,” Gonzalez says. “But I gave it a shot.”

He says parking became a bit of an issue with the new Firebirds next door to his restaurant. Also, Gonzalez says his landlords disappointed him by not putting his restaurant on a billboard near Kellogg and Rock Road as he says they promised. He says he had been working with them to lower his rent and then received a 10-day notice to leave.

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Metro Grill abruptly closes at the Waterfront; owner ‘gutted the place,’ landlord says

WICHITA — As he opens a new Metro Grill on the west side, Michael Gonzalez abruptly left his restaurant of the same name at the Waterfront.

“He just went in there and gutted the place a couple of nights ago,” says Johnny Stevens, a partner in the development at 13th and Webb Road.

“Pulled lights out of the ceiling. Pulled cabinets off the walls. Took everything he could.”

Stevens says Gonzalez didn’t leave many things behind.

“Not much. A sink. A toilet. A few odds and ends.”

Gonzalez couldn’t be reached for comment.

There’s now an eviction notice on the door, but Stevens says that came only after Gonzalez moved out.

“There’s nothing to go back in for,” he says. “But we’ve got to … go through that process.”

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Metro Grill IV a possibility for downtown

WICHITA — At long last, Michael Gonzalez is looking to bring his Metro Grill downtown.

“Since Day 1 at the mall, they’ve been asking me to come downtown,” he says of customers from his Metro Grill stand at Towne East Square. “They’re dying for us to go downtown.”

In addition to the mall location, Gonzalez has a sit-down Metro Grill at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road, and another restaurateur has Gonzalez’s former Metro Grill in Andover.

The downtown location, which would be close to Cafe Bel Ami near South Broadway and East William, isn’t official yet.

“This is not 100 percent,” Gonzalez says.

He says he’s only in talks with a developer, who approached him.

“If it’s a sweet deal, I’ll take it.”

T-Mobile the Phone Zone enters Wichita

WICHITA — A new T-Mobile retailer is entering the Wichita market with plans for at least six locations.

Readi Connections, which does business as T-Mobile the Phone Zone, bought an existing T-Mobile outlet at Towne East Square this month and is preparing to open one in Andover Village at 321 S. Andover in April.

Missouri residents Chris Michael and his mother, Melissa, had been in commercial real estate previously.

“We bought out one of our tenants and saw the great potential with wireless,” Chris Michael says.

They’re planning to open 25 stores in the next 36 months in a six-state region.

Michael says they decided to come to Wichita in part because the T-Mobile signal is strong here.

“It’s extremely strong,” he says.

Michael says the Towne East store was a good starting point.

“I felt like that had a really strong retail presence in it and some really strong growth potential as a store.”

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Third Metro Grill to open at the Waterfront

WICHITA — Michael Gonzalez is preparing to open his third Metro Grill, this time in the former Chill Gelato space at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb.

Gonzalez opened his first Metro Grill in Towne East Square. Last year, he opened one in Andover and then sold it to an employee.

Gonzalez says this location, which will seat about 40 and have additional outside seating, will open in about two months.

“I want to thank the people of Wichita for hanging in there with me.”


Encore Restaurant and Nightclub and Metro Grill enter partnership to serve food

WICHITA — Since selling his Andover restaurant, Metro Grill owner Michael Gonzalez has been thinking of ways to expand his business, which started in Towne East Square.

“I can’t stay away from the kitchen, so here I go,” says Gonzalez, who has been making pitches to other area restaurants to carry his popular sandwiches.

“He was like, ‘Hey, I know this sounds kind of crazy, but I think I have the best food in town,’” says Encore Restaurant and Nightclub owner Michael Todd, who is one of the business owners Gonzalez made his pitch to.

“I just assumed it was another guy trying to make a dollar.”

Encore is in the former O’Brien’s Irish Pub space next to Scotch & Sirloin.

Gonzalez brought along his brother, Jose, for the pitch. Todd had two thoughts after meeting them.

“Either these are the best salesmen I’ve ever seen, or they have the best food.”

So he went to Towne East to check it out.

“Sure enough, they are the best salesmen and they have great food,” Todd says. “They’re so pumped. Their food isn’t just a product they made. It’s really from their heart.”

He quizzed people he knows about Metro Grill.

“It’s just nonstop love for the place. Not a bad remark for anything from there.”

So Todd is discontinuing most of his current menu, except for pizza, and adding eight Metro Grill sandwiches and two salads. He may expand the offerings eventually.

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Metro Grill to open in Andover and not on Rock Road

WICHITA — The Metro Grill deal at 366 N. Rock Road has fallen through.

Instead, Michael Gonzalez, whose popular Metro Grill sandwich stand is at Towne East Square, is heading to Andover.

“We live in Andover,” Gonzalez says of his family.

That’s only one reason he’s opening next month at 321 S. Andover Road.

“The reason why is there is nothing to eat in Andover in my eyes,” he says. “Nothing unique like Metro Grill has to offer.”

Gonzalez is known for sandwiches like his Cuban, which he effortlessly makes for a customer while fielding questions about his new restaurant.

The new place will seat about 35 and have a similar concept that Gonzalez had planned for Rock Road.

The kitchen will be in the middle of the restaurant so diners can see him cook.

Diners will be able to bring their own beer and wine with no corking fee.

“It’s a great concept,” Gonzalez says. “From where I come from, New York and New Jersey, those restaurants do phenomenal.”

Metro Grill II to open on North Rock Road

gonzWICHITA — Metro Grill owner Michael Gonzalez is still opening a new restaurant, but not where he originally planned.

Gonzalez’s Metro Grill stand is at Towne East Square, which is where he also hoped to have a sit-down restaurant.

Instead, he’s going to open Metro Grill II at 366 N. Rock Road in a building that’s been home to Plant and Patio and Rugs to Riches in recent years.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Gonzalez says of the three-level space.

He plans to have the kitchen be a central part of the restaurant by putting it by the windows that face Rock Road and by leaving it visible for diners to see throughout the restaurant.

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Tax issue won’t keep new restaurant from opening

michaelmugMetro Grill and 5-10 Gourmet owner Michael Gonzalez, who on Tuesday told Have You Heard? about a new sit-down restaurant he’s opening at Towne East Square, is almost $22,000 behind on taxes. But he says it’s no big deal.

“I was a little behind on my sales tax, but that’s taken care of,” Gonzalez says. “It’s not going to affect any opening of any restaurant.”

Gonzalez, who is still considering two Towne East entrance locations to open 5-10 by Metro Grill, says the amount he owes is more like $10,000 and that the state must have its figures wrong.

He says he got behind when he combined the billing for his two Towne East food court restaurants and didn’t have a good accountant to help him.

Now, Gonzalez says, he’s on a payment plan and has an accountant “that I can feel comfortable with.”

“She’s at the top of the game, so that’s good.”

Metro Grill owner to try fine-dining concept

michael2Michael Gonzalez, the sandwich aficionado who draws even nonshoppers to the food court at Towne East Square, is working on another new restaurant.

“We’re going to be putting fine Italian gourmet within the actual mall itself,” Gonzalez says.

This time, it won’t be in the food court like his Metro Grill and 5-10 Gourmet.

“We’ll be at one of the main mall entrances,” Gonzalez says.

He plans to close his 5-10 Gourmet. The new restaurant will be 5-10 by Metro Grill. It will have a bar in addition to the restaurant, which will serve what Gonzalez calls Hispanic-Italian cuisine with some American dishes. It will be similar to 5-10 Gourmet but not the same.

“I’m going to add and take away and keep a lot,” Gonzalez says.

Metro Grill will remain open.

“Always,” Gonzalez says. “That’s my baby.”

He says there weren’t problems with 5-10 Gourmet.

“It’s working fantastic,” he says.

But mall management wants that space — more on that coming soon — and he thinks the mall could use a sit-down restaurant with adult beverages.

“Towne East is ready for it,” Gonzalez says.

He’s considering two locations and should make a decision shortly.