Top 10 favorite Wichita restaurants that have closed
Tis better to have eaten and lost than never to have eaten before.
Or is it?
Two weeks ago, we asked Wichita Eagle readers and food fans to share memories of once-beloved Wichita restaurants that lived out their life cycles and closed, leaving fans hungry and nostalgic for years and years. We heard from more than 300 people, who responded via Facebook, e-mail, phone calls and snail mail.
They named nearly 200 Wichita restaurants that are no more some that have been closed for decades, some that have been closed only a few years, months or weeks. They lamented burgers they could still taste, yeast rolls they could still smell and missed menu items that havent been matched since and probably never will be.
By far, the most-mentioned missing restaurant was Angelos, which closed in 2006 after serving Wichita pizza, manicotti and Italian salad with pickled eggplant for 46 years.
Too bad Angelos is no longer, Judy Young said in her e-mailed response. Long before fast food this was the cheapest place to feed my family of four. We would split an order of spaghetti, share a pizza and load up on garlic bread. All would go home full and happy and Mamma didnt have to cook or wash the dishes.
The Italian restaurant was started by Angelo and Anna Fasciano, who started out making pizzas out of their basement in the late 1950s. Sicily-born Angelo, who worked at Boeing, would sell the pizzas to co-workers, and the demand was such that he that he finally opened a small restaurant on South Laura in 1960. Wichita had several Angelos over the years, the final of which was at 1930 S. Oliver.
By that time, the founders had both passed away and the restaurant was being run by their son, Jack Fasciano, who struggled to keep it afloat. These days, hes still making the pizzas and manicotti out of his house and plotting a return. All thats standing between Wichita and an Angelos revival, Fasciano has said on the Bring Angelos Back to Wichita Facebook fan page, is a serious investor.
The second-most-mentioned restaurant was Dr. Redbirds Medicinal Inn, which operated in several locations throughout the 1970s and 1980s. (The best-remembered one was at 120 E. Douglas.) It was owned by Richard and Marnie Vliet, who also started the Looking Glass and the original Larkspur, and it was known for its piled-high sandwiches.
Reader Ted Jillson shared a scan of a menu he still has, which lists sandwiches with medical-sounding names like the Consumption Cure, the Daily Regulator and the European Restorative.
Best sandwiches in the whole world, said Carol Stein Beat in a Facebook post. My favorite was the turkey with asparagus. This restaurant probably closed 30 years ago, and I still miss it.
Rounding out the rest of the top 10, with the highest vote-getters first, were:
• Alberts: This Chinese restaurant was founded by Albert Mar in 1947 and operated on North Hillside until it moved to Kellogg and Woodlawn in 1953. It closed in 2001 after 54 years of business, the victim of increased competition, a tight job market and a new generation of family members uninterested in taking the restaurant over from its aging founders.
During its early years, Alberts was one of the only places in Wichita to get international cuisine. Its fans remember its black booths, red lacquered walls and a candy and gum display near the counter. I have never found comparable Asian cuisine, said Pete Janzen in his Facebook response. Their walnut chicken is something I still wistfully recall when I go past there on the frontage road.
• Applegates Landing:This restaurant, which operated in the 1970s, had at least three locations, including the original at 13th and Oliver. It served pasta and pizza and had a salad bar that was built into the bed of an antique truck. Customers still rave about its Gilbertini, a pasta dish made with sausage, cheddar, Mozzarella and garlic.
• Romanos Macaroni Grill: It was a chain pasta restaurant, but it was a good chain pasta restaurant, say its many fans. Romanos Macaroni Grill opened in 1997 and closed almost exactly 10 years later after opting not to renew its lease at Bradley Fair. It was demolished, and Barnes & Noble was built on the site. Diners liked the pasta dishes and the singing waiters.
That was where my husband and I had our first official dinner date over 14 years ago, said Marina Fulton in her Facebook response. We used to go back on our anniversary until they tore it down for a book store. Very disappointing. I loved their lobster ravioli and how they served you Chianti in water glasses.
• Grandys: This chain still exists, but not in Kansas. Grandys pulled out completely in 1999, when it closed its five Wichita stores, one of which was at 233 S. West St., where Hog Wild operates now. It was known for its fried chicken, yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls.
• Willie Cs: For years, Bill Rowes Willie Cs Cafe & Bar was the place to be in Wichita. Rowe closed Wichitas last Willie Cs, at 656 S. West St., in 2008, ending a 24-year run. Rowe started the restaurant in 1985, and at one time, there were five Willie Cs, including two in Wichita. It was known for its automobile decor and its family-friendly menu.
• La Palma: This home-style Mexican restaurant, founded by Bogota, Colombia, native German Reyes, opened at Lincoln and Governour in 1974. It moved to 5231 E. Central, where it operated until it closed in 1992. La Palma served fresh tamales, pork chile verde, ham-and bean-filled flautas and more.
Still my favorite Mexican restaurant to date, said Timirie Shibley, co-owner of Doo-Dah Diner at 206 E. Kellogg. Great flour fried tacos, enchiladas and their salsa was like none other.
• Magnolia Cafe: Alan Bundy opened Magnolia Cafe in 1986 at Central and Woodlawn. It specialized in Caribbean, Cajun and Creole food and had a hot-pink exterior. He turned it into Charlie Tangos in 1994.
• Garden Cafe: This longtime favorite in Brittany Center at 2120 N. Woodlawn closed in the summer of 2000 after being in business for more than six years. It was a popular breakfast and lunch spot and served giant cinnamon rolls.
My favorite Wichita restaurant of all time, said Marni Lanowy. I loved the variety of different potato casserole entrees and being able to choose from awesome muffins raspberry and morning glories were my favorites.
Other restaurants that received multiple mentions: Kwan Court, The Lazy R, Portobello Road, Estalitas, Rio Bravo, Tommys, The Old Way Station, Chateaubriand, Pasta Mill, Steak & Ale, Johnny Carinos, The Black Eyed Pea, Spaghetti Warehouse, Hickory House, Yen Ching, Abes, The Fife and Drum, Elizabeths, Shakeys Pizza Parlor, Ichiban Japanese Restaurant, Diamond Head Restaurant, Mr. Dunderbaks, Ferrells, Longneckers, Gambuccis, Amarillo Grill, White Castle, Red Mesa, Teds Montana Grill, Cafe Chantilly, Bartellis, Italian Garden, Joe Kellys Oyster Dock, Sub n Stuff, Browns Grill, Pizza Inn, Tippins, Cedar Saloon, Bucks Barbecue and Zipps Drive Thru.
Luciano's food truck rolls into Wichita
Fans of Lucianos, the well-regarded Italian restaurant in Mulvane, know that if they want to enjoy owner Luciano Mottolas homey pasta dishes, theyre going to drive.
But not any more.
Luciano and his wife, Nancy, have just launched a Lucianos mobile food business that theyre calling Strada, which is the Italian word for street. Itll be in the Brittany Center parking lot at 21st and Woodlawn from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today (Thursday).
The couple decided to start the food truck, Nancy said, after getting requests from Wichita fans.
A lot of people wanted us to open a location in Wichita, but we felt that would take away from what we were doing here, she said. We felt like this would fill that need without taking anything away from Mulvane.
The trailer will offer pasta dishes made popular in the Mulvane restaurant, and it will also serve salads using cone-shaped versions of its famous Parmesan salad bowl.
The dishes will be less expensive than they are in the restaurant and are intended to give people a fast and friendly way to have a taste of what they can get in Mulvane, Nancy said. Todays menu includes a shrimp and mushroom penne with cream sauce.
The trailer will be out for lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Mottolas are interested in getting involved in Food Trucks at the Fountain and also are open to serving at special events on weekends.
On Friday, thell be parked at Bing Brothers Liquor in Winfield from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Schedules can be found on the Lucianos Facebook page and on its Twitter account.
For more information, call 316-777-0045.