It's a mystery that's nagged foodies who've driven along east Douglas in the past month.
What's a Mike's Wine Dive?
The owners of the new restaurant and bar at 4714 E. Douglas are happy to break it down.
Mike's: Mike is not necessarily a person, the owners insist (though the crooked grins on their faces lead you to suspect otherwise). Instead, Mike is a mythical guy with a laid-back attitude and a love for food and drink.
Wine: The new business is first and foremost a restaurant, but it offers a carefully researched and constructed wine list that spans 44 pages of a menu and features more than 250 bottles and many by-the-glass selections.
Dive: The owners chose to call the business a dive to convey a simple message: Mike's Wine Dive is the opposite of snooty and highbrow, they say. College Hill residents walking in from an afternoon of lawn work in shorts and flip-flops are as welcome as well-dressed couples enjoying a night on the town.
"It's non-snobbish," said Brad Steven, one of the owners of Mike's Wine Dive, which opened a month ago in a space formerly occupied by Caffe Posto and a hair salon. "We didn't want a name that would intimidate people with wine."
Mike's Wine Dive was developed by Whit VinZant, founder and president of VinZant Edwards Restaurant Group, responsible for the Jimmy's Egg restaurants in Wichita. He partnered with two of his high school buddies, brothers Brad and Brent Steven, who own Club Indigo and a few other local businesses. They're part of the same Steven family that owns Spangles and Joe's Car Wash.
The trio had always wanted to start a business together, but something had always gotten in the way. When they found the cozy neighborhood spot in College Hill, they were hit with Dive-ine inspiration.
They hired Brad Beyer, who had years of experience managing restaurants such as Redrock Canyon Grill and Red Bean's Bayou Grill, and they teamed with a Puerto Rican chef to create a menu of Latin-fusion food that's focused on dramatic presentations and big flavors.
Among the more popular dishes on the menu, which includes everything from a $9 Cuban sandwich to a $28 rib eye, are lobster, shrimp and crab macaroni and cheese ($18), achiote pork chops piled high with polenta, tostones and mango salsa ($20), and a dessert featuring a dark chocolate bag made by Cocoa Dolce that's filled with vanilla bean ice cream and fresh fruit ($6.)
The owners also worked with a couple of sommeliers to develop the extensive wine list, which they say is sophisticated enough for wine connoisseurs but accessible enough for wine novices.
So far, everyone uses the Dive differently.
Some people come in strictly for the food, which is served at both lunch and dinner. Others — especially College Hill neighbors — are coming in for after-dinner drinks and lingering, sometimes until the restaurant closes at 2 a.m. The lunch crowd is growing, too.
There's often a wait on Friday and Saturday nights to get a table, sometimes as late as 11 p.m.
"We are meeting our expectations," Beyer said. "We thought we'd be where we are now four months from the day we opened."
If you go
Mike's Wine Dive
What: A new restaurant and bar featuring upscale food and a giant wine list
Where: 4714 E. Douglas, 316-613-2772
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Food is served until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays.