It was bad enough back in May when Golden House, the fried-rice destination of choice of downtown workers for 16 years, closed its doors at 504 S. Broadway, then was bulldozed into oblivion.
Just a couple of weeks later, the 20-year-old Yen Ching at 430 N. Rock Road also closed, taking with it its amazing sizzling rice soup and moo shu pork.
And this week, another longtime restaurant disappeared. Red Beans Bayou Grill, which had been providing Wichita with reliable jambalaya and etouffee since 1998, closed for good at the end of business on Thursday. Owner Bill Rowe said his lease at Red Beans at 7447 W. 21st was up, and he decided not to renew and to focus instead on his Blue Moon Caterers. He’ll auction off all the restaurant decor at 9 a.m. Monday and the kitchen equipment at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Restaurants come. Restaurants go. But when the restaurant that goes is one of your favorites, the cravings can linger for years, even decades.
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This week, I’m asking local foodies to help me reminisce about restaurants we used to know. I want you to send me the names of your favorite Wichita restaurant or restaurants that have closed and tell me what, specifically, you miss about them.
I could go on and on.
The Chinese buffet at Kwan Court, which closed in 2011, stood alone in a sea of super buffets. Its offerings were focused and always fresh and delicious. I miss the hot and sour soup in particular.
It was a chain, yes, but I loved Romano’s Macaroni Grill, which closed in Bradley Fair in 2006. That complimentary rosemary focaccia loaf. The cheap glasses of chianti, poured on the honor system. The singing waiters. The penne Rustica.
I also miss Da Nang’s banh mi. Bartelli’s New York slices. King’s X’s counter full of regulars. Maharaja’s centrally located Indian food.
And don’t even get me started on the tragic 2006 closing of Angelo’s at 1930 S. Oliver after 46 years in business. Owners of the family-run Italian restaurant, home to Wichita’s favorite pizza, cannelloni and eggplant-topped Italian salads, have considered a comeback several times over the years but are looking for the right backer.
Sometimes, if you wish hard enough, your favorite restaurant does return. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen was mourned from the time it closed in 2004 until it reopened at 1725 E. Douglas in 2011. Same for Frida’s, the home of the amazing pirata and salsa selection, which closed in 2010 and reopened as Molino’s last year.
Usually, though, once a restaurant is gone, it’s gone, and your only options are to try to re-create the recipes at home or travel to other cities that have a version of the closed restaurant and hope the reality lives up to your memory.
Or, in this case, you can share your food memories with others and see whether they’re still hungry, too.
You have two ways to share your memories of your most-missed restaurants.
The first one is to go to the Dining with Denise Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/diningwithdenise) and share it on the post pinned to the top. (You could go ahead and “like” the page while you’re there.)
The second, if you’re not a Facebook user, is to e-mail it to me at email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name.
Tell me the name of the restaurant, what you miss and any other memories. If you have photos of yourself or your family or friends in the restaurant, even better.
The Wichita restaurants I named existed during the past 20 years, but yours can be as old or as new as you want. Be sure and send your reply by July 21. I’ll share some of your comments in Go! on July 25.