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.”

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.”


Metro Grill III to open Friday

WICHITA — Metro Grill III opens Friday in the new Encore Restaurant and Nightclub next to Scotch & Sirloin on East Kellogg.

Metro Grill owner Michael Gonzalez has entered into a partnership to sell some of his popular sandwiches and salads at the new club.

He’s particularly excited for customers who have been wanting to enjoy his food with a bottle of wine. Gonzalez says he’s frequently asked about that, but his location in Towne East Square’s food court doesn’t have it, nor does Metro Grill II in Andover, which he recently sold.

Gonzalez still hopes to sell sandwiches at other Wichita bars, which is a new venture he’s exploring, but he says he has to make sure everything runs smoothly at Encore first.

His food will be available for lunch and dinner.

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 II still in transition

WICHITA — The saga over the new Metro Grill II in Andover continues.

Chef Michael Gonzalez and his ex, Sarita Gonzalez, were in court Wednesday to determine who has rights to the restaurant.

The two basically agree on what happened. They say a judge is allowing Michael Gonzalez back into the restaurant to cook for a two-month period, but Sarita Gonzalez can supervise the books.

The Gonzalezes can use those two months to determine the value of the Andover restaurant and the Metro Grill in Towne East Square in order to figure alimony and child support.

Accounts differ on what happened when Michael Gonzalez returned to Metro Grill II on Wednesday. The end result, which is not in dispute, is police were called (possibly by both sides and customers) and Michael Gonzalez isn’t allowed back in the restaurant until he has court documents showing he can be there.

Sarita Gonzalez says Michael Gonzalez returned in a wildly disruptive manner “instead of walking into the restaurant with class . . . and decency.”

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Andover’s Metro Grill II ownership is in flux

WICHITA — Exactly a month after his delayed opening of Metro Grill II in Andover, chef Michael Gonzalez is gone.

He hopes it won’t be for long.

Gonzalez and Sarita Gonzalez — who is either his wife or his ex wife, depending on which one you ask — are splitting up.

Michael Gonzalez says an officer showed up to tell him Sarita Gonzalez has control of the restaurant.

“It’s a big thing,” he says. “It’s an unfortunate thing.”

Michael Gonzalez has control of the original Metro Grill at Towne East Square, but he’s heading to court next week to try and reclaim the one in Andover.

That restaurant closed briefly this week, but Sarita Gonzalez has reopened it.

“She’s trying to prove something, and unfortunately she’s going to hurt the business because she doesn’t have any, any, knowledge . . . of what it takes to run a kitchen,” Michael Gonzalez says.

Sarita Gonzalez says, “I’ve been working with Michael for 13 years since I met him. Everything that Metro Grill is is my idea.”

We’ll let you know what the court says next week.

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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