Melad Stephan to open Italian restaurant in former Uptown Bistro space

UPDATED — He’s been talking about it for some time, and now he’s going to do it.

Melad Stephan is opening an Italian restaurant in his former Uptown Bistro space in Old Town Square.

He hasn’t chosen a name yet.

“This time I’m going to pick something easy for people to pronounce instead of Oeno or Sabor or anything else,” he says of two of his other Old Town businesses.

Stephan has hired Gianluca Sciagata to be his chef.

The Italy native most recently has been working in Aspen, Colo.

So why would he want to come here?

“That’s the first thing I asked him,” Stephan says.

“He said cost of living.”

Sciagata, who says he’s fluent in Italian, Spanish and English, is moving here in early May.

He has an Italian pizzaiolo license, which means he’s adept at making pizzas, and his specialty is cooking in wood-burning ovens.

Stephan is checking to see if he can incorporate a wood-burning oven into his kitchen.

Following some remodeling, he hopes to have the restaurant open by the middle of May.

Old Town’s Uptown Bistro to close April 2

WICHITA — After months of speculation — and some denials — Melad Stephan says he’s closing Uptown Bistro in Old Town Square on April 2.

“That store hasn’t lived up to my standards in food and service and sales,” he says. “I’ll take the blame for some of it. Or most of it.”

Stephan signed a new 5-year-lease last month.

“I’m not going to leave that spot. I’m going to do something with it some day.”

He’s working on a new concept, but he won’t share details yet.

Stephan grew fed up with Uptown Bistro.

“I told them the other day, if I hear one more complaint, I’m shutting the doors down,” he says. “I’m done with everybody.”

Stephan says he couldn’t be there enough to oversee and correct operations.

He also owns Sabor Latin Bar & Grille, Egg Cetera, Oeno and Press.

So has he considered perhaps limiting himself to only one or two restaurants?

“I have in the past,” Stephan says. “You know what? You do one thing     . . . you get bored with it.”

He says he could don his chef’s coat and revive Uptown Bistro on his own, but he doesn’t want to.

“Do I have the passion and the time and the effort to do it at this stage in my life? I don’t.”

He’s been in the restaurant business 25 years.

“You know, just the routine kills you. You want to advance your life.”

Look for an update on the space as soon as Stephan makes a final decision.

On the Town with Carrie, Denise and you

Food. Friends. Fun.

They’re all on the menu Tuesday night at Oeno as my dining colleague Denise Neil and I host our first “On the Town with Carrie and Denise,” a culinary cocktail adventure if you will.

The plan is to gather on the patio at Oeno in Old Town Square at 5:30, eat some free appys, perhaps drink our signature ICTini and talk food.

There will be a formal Q&A where Denise and I answer restaurant-related questions (or, heck, most anything else you’d like to ask).

We’ll tackle some of the standard questions (When is that Chick-fil-A coming to Central and Rock?) and some unexpected ones (as tough as you care to make them).

Which is where you come in. Please join us and fellow Wichita foodies. It’ll be relaxed and casual and hopefully the start of a fun new tradition.

Sabor at the Waterfront is not closing

WICHITA — The hot restaurant talk at the end of last year has continued into this year, and that’s that the east-side Sabor Latin Bar & Grille is closing or converting into a new business.

“There were some rumors that we were closing, but right now we’re going to keep it open,” says Sabor district executive chef Jason-Paul Febres.

Febres says the Old Town Sabor had a better reception than the one that opened in late 2008 at the Waterfront.

“Downtown people . . . they’re more open to try Latin food,” Febres says.“They’re more open to new ideas.”

The economy has been a factor, too.

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