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Hill Bar & Grill planned for Barrier’s spot

11/30/2012 7:01 AM

11/30/2012 7:02 AM

As some residents of Crown Heights are organizing a group to protest a bar and grill going in the former Barrier’s space at Douglas and Oliver, the restaurateurs hoping to open it are ready to share details.

Mike’s Wine Dive owners Brent and Brad Steven plan to open the Hill Bar and Grill – named for the hill in College Hill – in 5,100 square feet of the building in March. Mike’s is in the center at the northwest corner of the intersection. The Hill will be on the northeast corner.

Though Brad Steven says the Hill will be a great place to catch a game, he says, “It’s not going to be a sports bar.”

“Our focus will be a wide selection of craft beers as well as American food,” he says. “Basically, we’re going to be specializing in beers the way we specialize in wine at Mike’s.”

There will be 25 beers on tap and craft beers from around the world.

Brent Steven describes it as “kind of like an ale house.”

He says the idea is “a place that’s totally different than Mike’s.”

Where Mike’s is more fine dining, he says, he and his brother envision the Hill as “more of a hangout spot.”

“It will appeal to a wider audience than Mike’s does.”

There will be seating for about 150 customers.

There will be an outside patio facing Douglas that is within the front of the building and will serve as an area for smoking. There will be another patio that wraps around the east side of the building.

There will be another 2,400 square feet left in the building for another business.

The Hill’s hours aren’t set yet, but the Stevens are thinking 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. most days and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends.

The hours are a key issue for some residents.

“You can go on the news and see all the time what happens in Old Town at 2 a.m.,” says Melinda Foley, who is president of the Crown Heights Neighborhood Association.

Foley and other residents plan to attend the Dec. 3 District Advisory Board meeting where the issue of increased parking for the Hill is addressed.

The new owners of the building, Christian Ablah and W.G. Farha, applied for a conditional use permit to tear down a duplex near the property for parking.

They also have plans to tear down a building behind the former Barrier’s building but don’t need permission for that because it’s already zoned for neighborhood retail.

The duplex is behind Citizens Bank of Kansas and is zoned for multifamily residential use.

On Nov. 15, the planning commission unanimously approved the permit with some modifications. The Wichita City Council will have final approval.

The Steven brothers say they won’t open the business if they can’t get the extra parking.

“Nothing’s going to go in that building without the extra parking,” Brad Steven says. “And that building will continue to be an eyesore of College Hill.”

He says he, his friends and some family live in College Hill.

“We feel like it’s a great community. … We feel like College Hill just needs a good bar and grill.”

Brent Steven says with Mike’s and the Hill, “It’ll really boost the value of this whole area.”

Foley, who owns Food For Thought, says she’s pro business.

“What we want to communicate is that we are very in favor of a business locating in Barrier’s,” she says. “Nobody wants a vacant building sitting around in a neighborhood.”

She says a bar or restaurant is fine if it doesn’t stay open until 2 a.m.

Mike’s stays open until 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Foley says that’s a different kind of business than the Hill will be.

Brad Steven says he thinks that once the Hill opens, neighbors’ fears will be allayed.

“I feel like the neighbors will carry on just like normal and not even know we’re there unless they want to come in for a great craft beer.”

Next Door neighbor

Eunice and Jay Kim are still planning another expansion of their Hana Cafe in Old Town Square, but it won’t happen next month as they originally thought.

“We’re still working on it,” Eunice Kim says.

She says Hana Next Door, which is taking the space the Wichita Police Department substation previously occupied, will open sometime in early 2013.

The new Hana concept is slightly different from the traditional Korean, Japanese and sushi dishes Hana Cafe offers. It will have express-style Korean food that diners can take to go. There will be limited seating as well.

The new restaurant also will have more tofu and vegetarian offerings along with salads and what Kim calls “healthy food.”

We’ll let you know an opening date as soon as there is one.

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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