In an industry known for its turmoil, few other bars and restaurants have been as troubled lately as the short-lived Walkers Bar & Venue and Jettys Pizza.
Walkers, which opened in late December, closed last week. Jettys closed prior to that.
“It’s been quite a tale, really,” says Mike McGill, a real estate investor who once again owns the property.
“I really don’t even know how to explain this,” says Mickey Lynch, who had been a partner in the businesses for a time.
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In 2012, a group began working on plans for a restaurant and bar on South Commerce Street to the east of Intrust Bank Arena. Initially, plans were for Walkers and Wichita’s second Pacific Coast Pizza.
Those plans changed, along with partners, several times before Walkers and Jettys opened. Plans and partners changed after the businesses opened, too.
“The news right now, I think, is that everything’s sold and will be reopening,” McGill says.
This is the third time the property has returned to McGill, whose family first acquired it in 1970.
The first time it left McGill’s possession, the property was condemned by the county for the arena.
“It’s on the arena doorstep, and they wanted it,” McGill says.
He says it’s part of a group of buildings on a historic register, though, so he was able to get it back.
Next, McGill sold the property to a couple of real estate investors, and they sold it back to McGill after their association ended.
Then, McGill sold to Ryan Mills, who was one of the people who developed Walkers and Jettys.
Mills and Lynch parted ways last month. At the time, Lynch told Have You Heard? that “I can’t even explain how big a mess this has been.”
Mills didn’t return calls for comment then or now.
The end result is Commerce Street Developers has sold the property to Uncondemned Properties.
McGill is the managing member of Uncondemned Properties, but he declines to discuss his partners or the members of Commerce Street Developers.
“There are several groups who are getting paid out of this,” he says.
Now, McGill says he’s moving forward with leasing the property. It looks like one group likely will reopen Walkers and another group may open a new concept where Jettys had been.
“You’re actually not giving us quite enough time to catch our breath,” he says of having the news ready to go.
McGill says leasing the buildings “is really good news for me,” but he also says, “This is good for Wichita.”
“We just need everything back working and operating. Being closed is not a good thing,” McGill says.
He says having new operators will bring new energy.
“It’ll be OK. We’re optimistic,” McGill says. “It’s been a poor start, but it will get better.”