Ciao Italian Kitchen to open in former Tommy’s Restaurant space Nov. 12

WICHITA — It took longer than expected, as most restaurant deals do, but Guillermo Perez-Munoz has finalized plans to open his second Ciao Italian Kitchen on the west side in the former Tommy’s Restaurant and Lounge space at 2121 N. Tyler.

“We are looking at opening November 12,” says COO Matt Tompkins.

In June, Have You Heard? reported that Perez-Munoz was working on the west-side deal less than a year after opening his first Ciao at the Waterfront on the east side where Piztros, Sabor and Press once were.

Tompkins says the former Tommy’s space makes sense for a number of reasons.

First, there’s the amount of traffic in the area, though Tompkins says it’s not as busy as the 21st and Maize Road area, which he says is a good thing.

“We’re not in the congestion of all the other restaurants.”

Also, Tompkins says there’s not another mom-and-pop Italian restaurant nearby.

“We think we have a really good opportunity to be successful there,” he says.

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Ciao Italian Kitchen to open in former Press space at the Waterfront

WICHITA — After almost 30 years of working in the restaurant business for others, Guillermo Perez-Munoz is opening his own place in the former Press space at the Waterfront.

“Why not?” he says, not allowing the previous failures of Piztros, Sabor and Press to deter him.

“We can analyze them — all of them,” Perez-Munoz says of why those businesses didn’t work.

The key, he says, is keeping his focus on food.

“In this area, it’s about families.”

So he’s opening Ciao Italian Kitchen, a 130-seat restaurant that will feature what Perez-Munoz calls the ultimate comfort food.

“We are an Italian kitchen first and foremost,” he says. “Every home is designed around the kitchen, so that’s what we’re doing.”

An extensive menu will include Italian favorites such as pizza, calzone and lasagna along with items such as surf-and-turf dishes.

Perez-Munoz isn’t planning any dishes from his native Puerto Rico, but he says as the business progresses he’ll probably “put some flare into it and bring some crazy pastas.”

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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.

Press wine bar to open Tuesday

WICHITA — At long last, Melad Stephan’s new Press wine bar is going to open in his former Sabor space at the Waterfront.

There were the usual construction and equipment delays that prevented the business from opening a couple of months ago as planned. Mostly, though, Stephan blames himself.

“You know, I change my mind so many times,” he says. “So I drove them crazy from colors to light to everything.”

Most of the changes are now complete.

“I might change my mind about some of the bar stools, but I think I’m set to open on Tuesday.”

You don’t say

“I’m going to start a rumor about how Uptown Bistro is closing down.”

— Restaurateur Melad Stephan on how his business at the east-side Sabor skyrocketed after a Have You Heard? item about how the restaurant was struggling

Sabor chef Jason-Paul Febres is eager to return

WICHITA — Venezuela native Jason-Paul Febres says he always knew he would return to Sabor, which he left in February after differences with owner Melad Stephan.

“It’s part of my beginning here in Wichita,” Febres says. “That place, I love it.”

He still wants his own restaurant one day, but Febres says he also hopes to eventually have ownership in Sabor and use successes with a chain of the restaurants to start his own venture.

As for Stephan saying Febres had some growing up to do, Febres says perhaps they both did.

“It’s getting to an agreement,” Febres says. “We both got on the same page.”

Kansas City Sabor is on hold; chef Jason-Paul Febres to return to east-side Sabor

WICHITA — A Kansas City Sabor isn’t going to happen anytime soon, but Melad Stephan still hopes to one day have a restaurant there.

In February, Stephan told Have You Heard? he was considering space near where the new CA’s Men’s Fine Grooming is opening in Leawood (not far from the Sprint Nextel Corp. campus).

“We thought we were set for that,” Stephan says.

But someone else leased it first.

“They moved a lot quicker on it than I did,” Stephan says.

He’s still looking at other spaces there, but Stephan isn’t in a rush because of the economy.

“Right now I just want to hold a little bit till things maybe change around a little bit,” he says.

jasonBack in Wichita, chef Jason-Paul Febres is returning to the east-side Sabor at the Waterfront.

In February, Febres and Stephan parted ways, with Febres proclaiming he would start a new restaurant and Stephan saying Febres needed to grow up.

“This time around is under different circumstances,” Stephan says. “He promised me he grew up.”

And Stephan says he could really use Febres.

“He’s a perfect fit for that restaurant with his personality and his talent.”