A&W to open in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize Road in June

WICHITA — As Eric Estes is getting ready to build his first Wichita Qdoba Mexican Grill where Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant & Club will close at Central and Rock, his first Wichita A&W is getting closer to opening.

“I think it’s the longest lasting restaurant brand since 1919,” Estes says. “It’s the granddaddy of all restaurant brands as far as heritage and age.”

The restaurant is opening in front of Lowe’s near 29th and Maize Road.

“It’s a neat concept,” Estes says. “We’ll be making the root beer fresh … every day.”

There will be frosted mugs, too.

Estes says lots of people seem to remember the “family” of burgers the chain once was known for, with a Mama, Papa and Baby burger.

“They were really famous for that.”

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Golden House Chinese restaurant downtown to close; Sonic to open

WICHITA — Golden House may be an especially small downtown restaurant unknown to many around the city, but it has its devotees, and they are dejected.

The restaurant is closing after 16 years at 504 S. Broadway, which is a few blocks south of Douglas.

“I’m totally devastated,” says Tim Harjo, who eats there several times a week.

Owners Hai Nguyen and Ha Luong, who came from Vietnam 23 years ago, are retiring to Atlanta to be with their three children and seven grandchildren.

Nguyen has been telling longtime customers the news as she serves them.

“Where am I going to eat now?” or some variation of that has been the popular question.

One answer could be Sonic. That’s what’s going to open on the property.

A new 1,800-square-foot building will replace the Golden House space. The drive-in restaurant should be open by the end of the year.

Nguyen isn’t sure when she’ll close. It could be this week or next week.

She is sure of one thing, though.

“I’ll be so sad. I’ll miss all my customers over here,” Nguyen says. “Thank you, everyone.”

Sweet Willy’s Hillbilly BBQ to open on South Seneca

WICHITA — Insurance salesman Randy Hare has a number of inspirations for opening his own restaurant, Sweet Willy’s Hillbilly BBQ, near 47th and South Seneca.

“I got my roots from the Ozarks and from tasting the good Carolina barbecue around,” Hare says.

willy“Plus, my wife needed a job,” he says of his wife, Pam.

Hare has been the manager at City Life Cafe, where Youth for Christ kids have a chance to learn on the job, and he says he wants to offer them another place to do that.

The Hares are planning to open Sweet Willy’s at 4628 S. Seneca in about three weeks.

“It’s just going to be a little 30-seater,” Hare says.

He says they’ll also have catering, a drive-through and a food truck.

Hare plans to smoke the restaurant’s meat in front of the restaurant in view of passersby.

“If you’re down at the Sonic, you’re going to be able to smell my smoke.”

That’s part of his plan.

“You’ve got to have something.”

Hare says he’ll have smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs and a number of unusual offerings, such as traditional Poutine french fries with cheese curds in a brown gravy, inspired by Canadian partner.

Hare says he’s going to keep his insurance job as well.

“Unfortunately,” he says, “it’s against the law for me to give somebody a steak to buy a life insurance policy.”

Kwik Shop to open at Stonebridge June 26

WICHITA — As Have You Heard? reported in September, a new Kwik Shop is coming to the Stonebridge development at the southeast corner of 37th Street North and Maize Road.

It now has an opening date: June 26.

Kwik Shop, which is operated by Kroger, was the third business to announce its opening at Stonebridge followed by anchor tenant Menards and then Sonic last fall.

At the time, Kwik Shop director of real estate Clay Brasher said customers had been asking for a store in that area, and he said Kwik Shop wanted to expand its presence.

The store will have 10 fuel pumps, which can serve 20 vehicles for gas and diesel.

In addition to traditional Kwik Shop offerings, there will be grocery items and fresh food available. Brasher said the food selection will be extensive.

Sullivan, Higdon & Sink lands Sonic account

WICHITA — “Route 44s for everyone!”

That’s how one Sullivan, Higdon & Sink employee heralded the news on Facebook that the agency landed Sonic as a client.

“It’s a great start for the new year,” says Lathi de Silva, vice president and director of brand reputation.

The agency’s Kansas City office will handle what’s called below-the-line communications for the chain’s 3,500 drive-ins nationwide. That includes in-store communications and any communications on Sonic lots. It also includes menu boards and any localized marketing for specific stores.

“We’re really building … what we call our food value chain practice,” de Silva says.

She says the agency serves clients from farm to fork on the food chain, such as Cargill and Borden Cheese.

“It’s just good for everybody to have these kinds of brands in our backyard,” says Sam Williams, SHS managing partner.

Though most of the work will be done in Kansas City, he says the Wichita office will offer support.

“Every time you win a national brand, it’s just huge when you’re a small, independent agency,” Williams says. “The thrill of winning never changes no matter how many times you’ve done it.”

He says the agency’s food connection goes back to the days it did print work for Pizza Hut when it was headquartered in Wichita.

“A farm-to-table strategy is very much in our DNA,” Williams says. “It’s been part of what we like to do for a long time.”

Kwik Shop to open at Stonebridge

UPDATED — A new Kwik Shop is coming to the Stonebridge development at the southeast corner of 37th Street North and Maize Road.

“Our customers have spoken, basically,” says Clay Brasher, Kwik Shop’s director of real estate. “That’s the main reason.”

Kwik Shop, which is operated by Kroger, has more than 125 stores in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska. There are 19 Kwik Shops in Wichita. Kroger-owned Dillons has a number of fuel centers at its stores as well.

“We can use the larger presence,” Brasher says.

Menards anchors the 37-acre Stonebridge development, and Sonic also opened there a few weeks ago. Kwik Shop is the third business to be announced there.

“We feel like it’s going to help us spur even more activity,” says Randy Furstenberg, CFO of Vantage Point Properties, the Stonebridge developer.

“Them going there gives us some momentum that will help us.”

Brasher says he’s not sure how big the Kwik Shop will be yet.

“We’re actually still developing our plans on the size and everything it will include inside the store.”

There won’t be a pharmacy as some Kwik Shops now have, but there will be grocery items.

“It’ll have a large offering of food products in it,” Brasher says.

Construction on the store will start this year and should be completed by spring.

“So it’ll be a pretty quick deal for them,” Furstenberg says.

Vantage Point’s Marty Moody handled the deal with Grant Tidemann of J.P. Weigand & Sons, Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate and Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate.

 

 

 

Sonic to open this summer at Paul Jackson’s Stonebridge development at 37th Street North and Maize Road

WICHITA — Stonebridge developer Paul Jackson now confirms what Have You Heard? reported was a possibility in March.

Sonic is coming to his development at 37th Street North and Maize Road.

“The long and short of it is the real estate market’s picking up a little bit, and we’re getting activity out at that Stonebridge site,” says Jackson, who has Vantage Point Properties.

Menards is the anchor tenant at the 40-acre development. Sonic is taking the first pad site at Stonebridge. Jackson says there are about 12 acres left to develop with nine more pad sites for retailers, restaurants and service-oriented businesses.

Jackson says Sonic has a strong Wichita presence with 24 restaurants in the area.

The Stonebridge Sonic is expected to open in late August.

“They’re moving awfully fast,” Jackson says.

He’s working on getting another deal under contract at the development.

“We’ve seen a real change in the retail world,” Jackson says. “I don’t want to be too optimistic, but it sure feels like it’s going the right direction now.”

Look for Andover news from him next.

“I suppose it’s largely just confidence,” Jackson says of the market. “Things are getting better, and so it’s time to do business again.”

Sonic may be coming to 37th Street North and Maize Road

WICHITA — It looks like a new Sonic may be heading to the same area as a potential new O’Reilly Auto Parts store.

The restaurant is in negotiations to possibly open by the Menards at 37th Street North and Maize Road.

A Sonic spokesman confirms the chain is working on a new Wichita site, but he says he won’t share details until the deal is done.

 

Two Brothers BBQ and Burger Grill coming to former Autoplex space in College Hill

WICHITA — A couple of brothers are moving into the College Hill area.

Why does this matter to you?

Because they’re bringing barbecue with them.

Two Brothers BBQ and Burger Grill is adding its fourth Wichita restaurant (there’s also one in El Dorado) at the northwest corner of Douglas and Hillside where Autoplex used to be.

“There seems to be a lack of restaurants in the College Hill area, which for Wichita is kind of unusual,” says owner Tom Ryan.

He operates the business with his wife, Carole, his sons, Mark and Matt, and their wives, Kyla and Ana.

Tom Ryan likes this site because it’s close to several busy areas, such as downtown, Wesley Medical Center and College Hill.

“We are hoping and believe it will be able to serve some areas that are in need of barbecue,” he says.

The Ryans will renovate the 2,000-square-foot former service center on the property, which they’re leasing.

“We’re going to do sort of a retro look,” Tom Ryan says.

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Wazabz Japanese steak house and sushi restaurant to open in former Sumo space

WICHITA — This must be the week for Japanese restaurant news.

In addition to Emperor’s Japanese Grill and Tsu Basa that will be opening on the east side, the Japanese steak house and sushi restaurant Wazabz will open in the former Sumo (which moved farther east) space at 3236 N. Rock Road.

That’s not to be confused with the new Wasabi Japanese Restaurant, which is opening in Old Town.

Wazabz owner Evan Spicer says the Wasabi owner let him know he didn’t care for his name choice, but Spicer isn’t changing it.

“It’s almost kind of like ‘hamburger,’ ” Spicer says. “How are you going to patent that?”

Spicer is an owner in the Chalet, a sports bar at 3030 Penstemon St., and a partner in numerous Sonics in Kansas.

He wanted to open a Japanese steak house for personal reasons.

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