Bryce Kuhn to open Twelve Restaurant & Bar in former Shorty Small’s space

WICHITA — Bryce Kuhn is a familiar face to many Wichita diners from working for others at a number of restaurants here. Now, he’s going to have a place of his own in the space that Shorty Small’s left at the Westlake Retail Center at 119th and Maple.

“I’ve always loved the west side,” Kuhn says. “My heart’s over here.”

He’s opening Twelve Restaurant & Bar, which he describes as an American grill, in June.

“Twelve has been my favorite number since I was about 5 or 6 years old.”

Kuhn’s first basketball jersey was No. 12.

“It stuck with me.”

Also, he says 2012 “was pretty much my best year ever.”

Kuhn married last year, bought a house and found out he was going to become a father.

After a career traveling to various cities with Houston’s restaurants, Kuhn returned to Wichita to work for several restaurants here, including Bonefish Grill, YaYa’s Eurobistro, Newport Grill and the Lakeside Club most recently.

Kuhn plans for Twelve to be “upscale casual.”

“We want to give people an upscale dining experience, but we don’t want to make them feel like they’re paying an arm and a leg to have a nice night out on the town.”

The restaurant, which will have seating for about 150 and another 25 on the patio, will serve dishes such as hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood and roasted chicken along with sandwiches and salads.

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Shorty Small’s working with diner’s club members on charges for closed restaurant

WICHITA — When Shorty Small’s closed over the weekend, management sent an e-mail to members of its diners club to address what would happen with the monthly charges they’re assessed to get discount meals.

For instance, one diner just purchased a membership Feb. 23, the day before the west-side business closed.

Shorty’s president Paul Kreth says he’s reimbursing diners if they recently paid their membership fees.

“We went back and made sure they weren’t being charged again going forward,” he says. “The intent’s to make sure to take care of them.”

Members with questions or concerns can e-mail management at or call 888-419-6754 and press 1 for help.

“Overwhelmingly, the majority of calls … we are getting are people that are sad that we left,” Kreth says.

“It’s with regret and sadness that we actually had to leave Wichita,” he says. “We want to make sure that everybody gets taken care of and that there are no hard feelings.”

Shorty Small’s has closed, but there’s a chance it could open in Wichita again

UPDATED — Shorty Small’s last day in business in Wichita was Feb. 24.

“Yesterday was a very emotional, very hard day,” says Cindy Harsha, vice president of the Oklahoma City-based company.

“I just can’t begin to tell you how emotional and hard it was.”

The restaurant opened more than seven years ago on the southwest corner of 119th and Maple in the Westlake shopping center.

“We opened to some really great numbers,” Harsha says. “Then, after about a year or so, things were dwindling.”

The restaurant initially was a fast-casual concept, but Harsha says the neighborhood wanted something more, so the chain remodeled into a full-service restaurant.

She says diners “really had a lovely reaction to that.”

Sales didn’t remain strong, though.

“Wichita seems to have suffered some economic hardships,” Harsha says. “We’re not the only ones the economy has been mean to.”

Road construction in the area didn’t help either, she says.

Another retooling of the restaurant last year also helped, though.

“We did have a nice little bounce back of sales this last spring,” Harsha says. “It seemed like a curtain fell down this summer.”

She blames a combination of gas prices and Boeing’s planned departure from the city followed by the Bombardier Learjet Machinists strike in the fall.

“It just was pretty devastating to sales.”

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Kanai sushi restaurant to open at 119th and Maple

sushiWICHITA — Restaurateur Penny Ellis says she knows we’ve heard it before, but, “We really feel like we’re going to have a new concept.”

She and her husband, Chris, and his brother, Curtis, are opening Kanai, a Japanese restaurant with a tagline that says, “Sushi and Sake to Savor.”

It’ll be near Shorty Small’s on the southwest corner of 119th and Maple.

The Ellises have not owned restaurants previously.

“We haven’t,” Penny Ellis says. “Are we crazy?”

She owns Pet Angel Memorial Center. Chris Ellis is in material handling for ESI. And Curtis Ellis owns Therapeutic Medical Supply.

Penny Ellis says they wouldn’t be opening the restaurant without their chef, David Kanai, for whom the business is named.

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