Doc’s Steak House, a Wichita institution since 1952 and home of the famous Doc’s garlic salad, will close at the end of business on Oct. 25.
Brian Scott, who took over the restaurant at 1515 N. Broadway in 2011, said that his costs have spiraled and that he has not been able to break even. There’s too much competition, he said, and the neighborhood cannot support a steak house.
“I just wasn’t able to get all my dreams accomplished,” he said.
Dwight “Doc” Hustead opened Doc’s in 1952, when North Broadway was the main entertainment district in town. Doc’s was one of several popular supper clubs at the time, alongside Ken’s Club, Abe’s steak house and Savute’s. Of them, only Savute’s remains.
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In 1963, Hustead sold the restaurant to his next-door neighbors, Lucy and Louis Scott, and they eventually sold it to their son, Stuart Scott. He sold it to his nephew, Brian, in 2011.
Brian, who grew up working at the restaurant, had dreams of modernizing Doc’s and making it relevant to a new generation. But he could never make enough money to carry out his plans, he said.
Fall and winter are his slower months, so he decided to go ahead and choose a closing date. The restaurant has been for sale for a year, but Scott says he hasn’t had much interest. A few people have stepped forward since word of the closing started to spread, and he’s still willing to sell the restaurant.
Brian said he’s been hearing from customers who are upset about the closing.
“Everyone is shocked, and a lot of them are upset. They’re not upset at us. They’re just upset,” he said. “It sucks. I grew up in this place. A lot of people grew up in this place.”
One of them was longtime Doc’s customer Justin Walty, who has been eating there since childhood. His grandfather knew “Doc” Hustead, and his father once worked on a crew that re-roofed the restaurant in the 1970s.
His aunt first heard rumors of the closing and dispatched Justin to confirm them, which he did by making a phone call to the restaurant earlier this week.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” he said. “I’ve been going there since I was a little kid. There’s nothing like their garlic salad.”
On Thursday, Walty changed his Facebook profile picture to a photo of a bowl of Doc’s garlic salad.
Brian said he’ll probably return to construction, which is what he did before taking the restaurant over.
Letting Doc’s go has been hard on him, he said.
“I’m surprised I’m sitting here talking to you about it without tears,” he said.
Over the years, readers have frequently written to the Eagle requesting Doc’s recipe for garlic salad. The family won’t give it up, but we’ve printed a recipe for years that produces a Doc’s-like garlic salad. Here it is:
This recipe was shared with the Eagle years ago and creates a good replica of Doc’s garlic salad, though loyal diners point out that the original has shredded carrots in it and paprika on top.
1 small green cabbage, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 green pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bud garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of pepper
Fill blender to top with vegetables and garlic. Add cold water to cover vegetables. Put lid on blender and run long enough to chop vegetables 3 to 4 seconds. Pour mixture into strainer and let drain (pressing out all water).
In small mixing bowl mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Place drained vegetable in a bowl and pour dressing over. Refrigerate until serving time. Use as soon as possible, otherwise the dressing will become runny. Makes 8 to 10 servings.