Dining With Denise Neil

Emerson Biggin’s east, new downtown brewery all in the works

Emerson Biggin’s owner Luis Lopez and his daughter, Erica Davis-Lopez, have several big deals in the works.
Emerson Biggin’s owner Luis Lopez and his daughter, Erica Davis-Lopez, have several big deals in the works. The Wichita Eagle

Erica Lopez-Davis and her father/business partner Luis Lopez have so many restaurant deals working at the moment, they can barely keep them all straight.

But when all the deals are done, likely sometime in February, Wichita should have an east-side Emerson Biggin’s, a new downtown brewery and a massive event center available for birthday parties, wedding receptions, baby showers and more.

Here’s a breakdown of what the family, which owns the existing Emerson Biggin’s restaurants in Wichita as well as the soon-to-close Lou’s Charcuteria at 220 S. Commerce, have planned:

▪ Jerseys Grill and Bar will merge with Emerson Biggins: Though no contract has yet been signed, the Lopez family and Mitch Lyon, the owner of Jerseys Grill and Bar at 3213 N. Toben, are planning to merge their businesses and eventually turn the Jerseys space into an Emerson Biggins east. Lyon, who has several other business ventures, said that he and the Lopez family have plans to update the bar and grow Jersey’s already strong business. “This merger will make this venue better for Wichita,” Lyon said. “It allows me to focus on my other businesses and let Big Lou run a business that he’s more experienced with.” In the meantime, Jerseys will continue to operate as is, and already-booked parties and caterings will not be affected, Lyon said.

▪ Lou’s Charcuteria and The Hungry Heart spaces will combine into one business: The Hungry Heart, 222 S. Commerce, closed suddenly in late October. Just two weeks later, Luis Lopez announced that his Lou’s Charcuteria next door would be closing, too, and that he hoped to find somewhere else to move it.

But Lopez-Davis said the landlord of the buildings, which sit in the shadow of Intrust Bank Arena, really wanted Lou’s stay and was willing to negotiate. So instead of moving, the family plans to keep the Lou’s space and take over The Hungry Heart space as well. Lou’s will continue to operate in its current form until Dec. 10. After that, the family plans to make the two spaces one business that will open any time Intrust Bank Arena has an event, serving a smaller bar menu with the same types of dishes that both Lou’s and The Hungry Heart served.

They’ll also rent the massive space out for special events, Lopez-Davis said. They’re still deciding on a name for the venue.

Lou's hours until Dec. 10 will be 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The first arena event they’ll open for will be Wichita State vs. Oklahoma State game on Dec. 17. Parking is available on non-event days in the arena parking area just to the west of the restaurant, and it’s available anytime in the Spaghetti Works parking lot, just to the north of the restaurant. There are also 12 spaces just in front.

▪ Existing Kansas brewery will relocate to Hungry Heart space: The family wants to put a brewery in The Hungry Heart space, and this week, they have interviews set up with three already operating Kansas breweries that are interested in relocating to Wichita. Lopez-Davis promises to let me know which one as soon as they’ve made a deal. The Hungry Heart had a brewery inside of it when it was open.

Stay tuned for updates on all the family’s plans.