When they first decided to open a restaurant in Wichita, Big B’s Beef owners Liz and Brian Bathgate targeted Delano.
The neighborhood, particularly the several blocks of Douglas that are immediately west of downtown, reminded them of Liz’s hometown of Joliet, Ill., a Chicago suburb that packs lots of quaint restaurant and shops into strollable blocks of historic buildings.
They couldn’t find the spot they wanted, so they opened their restaurant that specializes in Chicago-style fare on far South Seneca. But they kept their eyes on Delano until they found the right spot. The Bathgates moved their business to 605 W. Douglas in Delano and reopened it earlier this month.
“We were so happy to find this place,” Liz Bathgate said. “Delano just has a little bit of everything. There’s no other place in Wichita where you can get hats and yarn and be close to all these neat little places.”
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Lately, Delano has become quite the dining destination. In addition to Big B’s Beef, the district has over the past several months added Wimpys at 1713 W. Douglas and a new location of Ruben’s Mexican Grill at 915 W. Douglas.
The neighborhood known best as home to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and the Wichita Ice Center is also becoming known for the roughly 12-block stretch of West Douglas that includes Hatman Jack’s, some hair salons, a tattoo parlor, a couple of bridal shops, a bike store, a beer-making shop and a growing list of locally-owned eateries.
Karen Cravens, the president of the Delano Neighborhood Association and a booster of Delano businesses, said that the retail area in Delano is near capacity these days. People are starting to think of it as a place to go for unique, locally owned shopping and dining.
“It’s interesting to see,” she said. “When Kosta the Greek closed, everyone on their Facebook page said, ‘You should have opened in Delano.’ ”
Following is a list of restaurants operating on West Douglas in Delano.
Big B’s Beef, 605 W. Douglas, 316-522-2333: The restaurant that originally opened at 4628 S. Seneca relocated to its new Delano spot in early December. It specializes in Chicago-style style sandwiches, hot dogs, fries, soups and Italian beef and sausage. Hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Wimpys Burgers, 1713 W. Douglas, 316-260-9531: This restaurant opened the day after Thanksgiving in the former British Banger Company building at 1713 W. Douglas. It serves White Castle-style square burgers plus fries, onion rings, fried pickles, hot dogs and chili cheese dogs. The small dining room has about 12 seats, but most people take their food to-go. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Ruben’s Mexican Grill, 915 W. Douglas, 316-260-8045: Ruben and Anita Acosta had operated their Mexican restaurant at the corner of Douglas and McLean for years. But in early December, the couple completed the move of their restaurant to its new location several blocks to the west on Douglas. The new place has exposed brick walls and a nice new mural. Hours are 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.
Los Pinos, 1225 W. Douglas, 316-371-3384: This tiny Mexican restaurant was opened by Gustavo Hernandez in January and serves tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and burgers.
The Monarch, 579 W. Douglas, 316-201-6626: Jennifer Ray opened this stylish bar and restaurant in December 2012. She named it after one of Wichita’s first saloons, which operated in the 1890s.
Picasso’s Pizzeria, 621 W. Douglas, 316-267-5423: Kurt Schmidt opened this now very popular, by-the-slice pizzeria in March 2012.
Sugar Sisters, 917 W. Douglas, 316-519-3814: This bakery originally opened at 4811 E. Central, then closed and relocated to 917 W. Douglas in December 2011.
Lotus Leaf Cafe, 613 W. Douglas, 316-295-4133: This restaurant specializes in crepes, salads and other healthy fare, with several vegetarian and vegan options. It opened in 2010.
Mexico Cafe Delano, 555 W. Douglas, 316-264-1121: Longtime Wichita restaurant owner William Villar, son of Mexico Cafe founder Mary Villar, opened this Tex-Mex eatery in 2007.
Delano BBQ Co., 710 W. Douglas, 316-260-4950: This lunch-only restaurant has been selling traditional barbecue and sides since 2004.
TJ’s Burger House, 1003 W. Douglas, 316-269-3770: TJ’s, owned by Tony Abdayem’s brother John Abdayem, serves burgers and hand-cut fries and has been open since August 2000.
La Galette, 1017 W. Douglas, 316-267-8541: Tony Abdayem and his family have run this popular French/Mediterranean lunch-only restaurant with a French bakery since May 1986.
Taco Rio, 1022 W. Douglas, 316-264-9252: This locally-owned fast-food taco restaurant has been open for years at the corner of Douglas and Seneca.
Eggroll King, 1225 W. Douglas, 316-264-8733: This tiny Chinese restaurant has operated in Delano for nearly 13 years.
Wichita Fish Company, 1601 W. Douglas, 316-265-3474: Current owner Larry Towns has run this fish restaurant and market for at least 20 years but says it’s been around for at least 35.
NuWay, 1416 W. Douglas, 316-267-1131: The very first NuWay, Wichita’s crumbly-but-good homegrown fast-food place, opened in 1930 in this spot.
Nearby: Restaurants that aren’t on Douglas but are still in Delano include Merle’s Place, a bar and grill at 440 N. Seneca; and Ty’s Diner, a burger place at 928 W. Second.
Also: Delano also has a Pizza Hut at 700 W. Douglas, a Subway at 1016 W. Douglas, a McDonald’s at 122 N. Seneca and a Braum’s at 201 N. Seneca. It also has a few bars: The Vagabond at 614 W. Douglas and the Shamrock at 1724 W. Douglas.