1. Mortimers Neighborhood Grill and Piano Bar: Former Cibola owners Kevin Brown and Tracy Fahrbach plan to open Mortimers Neighborhood Grille and Piano Bar in mid-January in the space in Clifton Square formerly occupied by John Browns. The restaurant will be open for dinner Mondays through Saturdays and will feature a menu of made-from-scratch comfort foods such as sandwiches, burgers, prime rib and more. It will seat 50 on the first level and another 50 on the lower level, which on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will be used as a piano bar. The duo has plans to add lunch in mid-March, when they also hope to open a patio with swing benches, canopies and a bicycle rickshaw that will take College Hill residents home if they can’t drive. For more information, call 316-304-2874.
2. Charleys Philly Steaks: Towne East Square’s newest food court addition – Charleys Philly Steaks – opened on Monday. Steve Nussbaum opened a franchise of the Columbus, Ohio- based chain in a spot in the main food court center circle that previously was occupied by a restaurant called the Big Easy. It specializes in Philly cheese steak sandwiches and also is known for its fries and lemonade. Nussbaum, who is married to Wichita Eagle publisher Kim Nussbaum, said he and his staff know that they’ll be facing a busier-than-normal opening week, considering it’s the height of Christmas shopping season at Towne East. “We’ve been training to get ready,” he said. “We’ll be good.”
3. Mel’s Diner: A new food truck will join Wichita's glowing fleet on Thursday. Mel’s Diner, operated by Doug Gibson and his fiancee, Donna Johnson, is a business that Gibson had been planning for months with his sister, Melody Webb. But early this month, Melody suffered a massive heart attack and died in the hospital a few days later. She was 55. The new food truck, which will operate out of a cargo van fitted with a service window, will serve grilled sandwiches, soups and breakfast items. Among the specialties: broccoli cheddar soup and French toast made with Frosted Flakes. It’ll open weekdays for breakfast and lunch and also will do special events around town.