Former Wichitans Dennis Thompson and Doug Glendenning to bring Firebirds Wood Fired Grill to the Waterfront

The Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II stands in front of the future home of Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.

WICHITA — A visit home to his native Wichita is what’s leading Lone Star Steakhouse founder Dennis Thompson to bring his latest restaurant concept to the Waterfront.

Thompson and former Wichitan Doug Glendenning and a private New York equity firm own 23 Firebirds Wood Fired Grills and have six more under construction.

Thompson, who founded the company in 2000 in Charlotte, N.C., planned to go to Oklahoma City and Tulsa next but changed his mind.

“I happened to be in Wichita for a class reunion,” he says.

While here, Thompson toured the former Brooks Brothers store at the Waterfront development at 13th and Webb Road.

The 7,650-square-foot space is on the corner of the retail section of the Waterfront and is known for its decorative domed roof.

“It’s the most prominent spot in the retail center,” says the Waterfront’s Stephen Clark II.

Glendenning, the former president of Lone Star, calls the Waterfront “one of the best areas in the greater Wichita area for sure.”

“I used to live just a couple of blocks from there, so I know that area very well,” he says.

Glendenning is a founder of Firebirds, too, but he says Thompson really created it.

Thompson’s Aspen home inspired what initially was a Colorado lodge theme.

“Over time … it’s evolved,” Glendenning says. “It’s a lot less Colorado feel and more just kind of upscale casual.”

Thompson says he wanted to start a concept that was more upscale than an Outback or similar restaurants but not quite as high end as a Morton’s or a Ruth’s Chris.

“The theme is based around steaks, but we’re not perceived necessarily as a steakhouse,” Thompson says.

There are lots of wood-fired dishes, many of which have a southwestern flair.

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Old Town loses Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill and Imbiss Grille, gains Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern

UPDATED — There are a few restaurant changes in Old Town, including the departure of a longtime Wichita restaurant.

After more than a decade in business, Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill has closed.

“It was a difficult decision,” says Heidi Johnson, franchise administrator for the Nebraska-based company.

The restaurant’s lease was up at 233 N. Mosley.

“After four years of economic woes in this country, we just didn’t think it was the right time to renew our lease in that location,” Johnson says.

An entertainment district such as Old Town isn’t a typical development where the chain prefers to locate, she says.

“We kind of build on the interstate.”

That’s an option for down the road, though probably not anytime soon, Johnson says.

Old Town developer Dave Burk is working on a possible new tenant.

“I think I’m close,” he says.

Imbiss Grille, a German restaurant that was on the west side of Old Town Square, also has closed.

The owner didn’t return numerous calls in November and December regarding the possible closure.

A new restaurant, Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern, is opening in its place.

“It’s something I’ve been working on my whole career,” says owner Chris Tincher.

He’s so far spent his career working for others. Tincher spent the bulk of his time with Amarillo Grill but also worked for P.F. Chang’s, Piztros and Ted’s Montana Grill.

He’s naming his restaurant after his brother, who died three years ago.

“It’s just in his memory,” Tincher says. “There will be some featured dishes that were some of his favorite.”

Tincher calls his restaurant an American cafe, which will have dishes such as crawfish etouffee, taco plates and cheeseburgers.

He thinks Old Town Square is an ideal location.

“The downtown business district has really grown nicely over the last five years,” Tincher says. “I personally enjoy going down there and seeing movies and having dinner.”

He plans to open in early February. Tincher isn’t nervous about finally doing his own venture.

“I’m on a high about it right now. I really am.”

 

 

There’s a new menu for this year’s Zoobilee

WICHITA — It’s a safe bet that no one who goes to Zoobilee on Saturday will leave hungry, but there are several popular restaurants that have been involved with the Sedgwick County Zoo fund-raiser that won’t be back this year.

“I just don’t feel the event is the same for the restaurants as it used to be,” says Darrin Hackney, general manager at Heroes.

Heroes has been a participant for the last 15 years.

Hackney says the event is a good one, but it changed from a cocktail party atmosphere to “just watching people grab food like they’ve never eaten before.”

“When you have food flying out that fast . . . are they really trying your food or is it just (to) curb the alcohol?”

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