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Qdoba Mexican Grill to open in Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant & Club space

04/29/2014 5:00 AM

06/25/2014 5:53 PM

WICHITA — It turns out Qdoba Mexican Grill is what's going to open in the space Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant & Club will be vacating at Central and Rock, and it will be unlike any other in the national chain.

"Central and Rock Road is a great intersection," says restaurateur Eric Estes.

He plans a special theme for the site.

"Qdoba was going to kind of let us step out a little bit on this," Estes says.

He says the interior will celebrate Wichita's aviation and military history.

"That's kind of what shaped Wichita," Estes says. "It's part of the Wichita DNA. ... We kind of have this inspiration, if you will."

The restaurant will have an aviation theme and feature a tail and propeller from a 1941 Beechcraft AT-6 Texan.

The theme is important to Estes, who says his grandfather was working as a riveter at Boeing for his first job when he received orders to go to Italy in World War II.

"It just kind of shapes everything we do," Estes says of the heritage.

It was summer 2012 when he first told Have You Heard? he'd be bringing Qdobas to the state.

Qdoba is similar to Chipotle Mexican Grill in that customers order from a counter with a number of protein, vegetable and salsa selections for burritos and tacos.

Estes says there are a lot of healthy options, such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes, along with kids' meals.

His first Qdoba opened in Hutchinson in June, and Estes says it's doing well. Another is under construction in Hays.

Estes says work on the east-side Qdoba will start in June, but he's not sure if the restaurant will be in the same building that was home to Yen Ching for 30 years or if he'll build a new one.

"We'd love not to demolish it," he says. "We like to repurpose buildings where we can."

He adds, though, "If we do repurpose it, then all we'd be repurposing is four walls."

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal.

Look for an August or September opening. After that, Estes hopes to open another Qdoba on the west side, though he hasn't started looking for a site yet.

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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