Dining With Denise Neil

New Wichita restaurants in 2017: Spicy chicken, tipsy slushies, Potato Oles

Restaurants we lost in 2016

A look at ten of the Wichita restaurants that closed in 2016. (video by Jaime Green)
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A look at ten of the Wichita restaurants that closed in 2016. (video by Jaime Green)

Alcoholic slushies, biscuits and Japanese fusion for downtown. High-class steak, Mexican food and more frozen custard for the west side. Pizza, wine and fried chicken for the east side. And a Potato Oles for Derby.

All are on the long list of dining options that will arrive in the Wichita area in 2017, and no doubt many more will be announced over the course of the year.

Save this list so you know what’s coming when. Although, keep this in mind: Restaurant opening dates were made to be pushed back.


▪ Jimmy’s Egg, 550 N. Webb Road: Morrie Sheets and Wink Hartman Sr. will open their sixth local Jimmy’s Egg breakfast and lunch restaurant in a 3,750-square-foot space on the northeast corner of Central and Webb on Monday.

▪ Las Trojas, 2330 N. Maize Road: The owners are waiting for final inspections on this Mexican restaurant, which is taking over the space vacated by Barroco Mexican Grill, and they hope to be open by midmonth. It’s owned by Diego Avilas, who in 2013 opened Tequila’s Mexican Grill in Valley Center. He’s going into business with his brother-in-law, Rafael Quiroz, and Rafael’s brother Antonio.

▪ Noble House, 3238 E. Douglas: A brick-and-mortar version of the food truck Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch is set to open in the spot where Smarts Doughnut briefly operated in 2016. Owned by Natalie Burris and chef Akamu Noble, the restaurant will seat about 30 and will offer the same Hawaiian-style dishes fans now find on the food truck, which will continue to operate. The couple says the restaurant will open sometime in January.

▪ Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken, 4206 E. Harry: A new chicken chain will hit the Wichita market sometime in January, and the local owners say they are hoping to fill the void left when Church’s Chicken closed all of its local stores in late 2015. They plan to open sometime in January.

▪ Rene’s Restaurant, 9310 W. Central: This 24-hour Mexican restaurant will open its second west-side eatery in the former Dairy Queen space at Central and Tyler. Owner Rene Guadarrama says he’s waiting on final inspections but should be ready to start serving sometime in January.


▪ Dempsey’s Biscuit Co., 3425 E. Douglas: The owner of Dempsey’s Burger Pub, Steve Gaudreau, is opening a restaurant in the former Fork & Fennel space. It’ll serve hot chicken and biscuits, the latter of which the owners just gave a New Year’s Day test run at Central Standard Brewing. Gaudreau is aiming for the first week of February to open.

▪ Songbird Juice Co., Clifton Square: Marty Spence, who owns Songbird Juice Co. at 1142 N. Bitting, and her husband, Angelo Rodriguez, owner of R Coffee House next door at 1144 N. Bitting, are opening a new business in the tiny, 350-square-foot spot in Clifton Square that previously held Fresh Roast Coffee Co. It also will be called Songbird Juice Co. and will offer many of Spence’s signature items, including cold-press juices and fresh kombucha. It also will offer some of Rodriguez’s signature coffee drinks – high-end pour-overs and cold brews. It will become the home base for the couple’s food truck, dubbed “The Bird Cage,” which they rolled out in September. The kiosk could be done by February, though the couple has already started serving from the food truck outside the space.

▪ Lola’s Bistro, 2146 N. Collective Lane: Michael Abay has been working on opening his new restaurant within the Collection at East 21st and K-96 since December 2015. He’s moving along slowly and now says he’s hoping to open the cafe, which will serve American cuisine with French, Italian, Asian and Filipino influences, by February.

▪ El Pollo Dorado, 460 N. West St.: The owners of the popular chicken food truck that’s always parked on 21st Street and Wellington are opening a restaurant in the space vacated by Angkor Donuts, which closed in July after less than a year in business. They hope to have it ready in February, and they’re also hoping to add a second food truck this year.

▪ Funky Monkeys Shaved Ice 21+: A grownup-friendly version of the Funky Monkeys Shaved ice business is set to open in one of the Union Station kiosks that so far have remained vacant. J.D. Young, who also has a Funky Monkeys Shaved Ice truck and a stationary hut in front of the Home Depot at Woodlawn and K-96, will offer shaved ice spiked with alcohol, though he’ll also serve non-alcoholic versions. He’s hoping to open sometime in February and will have a grand-opening party this summer.

▪ Petra Mediterranean Restaurant, 6140 E. 21st St.: Rania Taha and Bashar Mahanweh, who in September bought Byblos at 3088 W. 13th St. from founder and longtime owner Ilham Saad, are opening a new Mediterranean restaurant in the former Passage to India space near 21st and Woodlawn. It will serve Mediterranean and Arabic dishes and will offer some seating areas that are fitted with cushions, just like in Middle Eastern countries. The space also will include a bakery. Both are expected to be ready in February.


▪ Jimmy’s Egg, 1320 W. Central, El Dorado: Yet another Jimmy’s Egg will open, this time in the former QuikTrip building in El Dorado. It will have 131 seats and should be ready in March.

▪ Picasso’s East, 5900 E. Central: Wichita’s second Picasso’s is still happening, and owner Kurt Schmidt estimates it will be ready to go by March. Schmidt, who also owns the popular Delano location of the pizza restaurant, is opening in the former Warren Travel Inc. space at 5900 E. Central, between Edgemoor and Woodlawn.

The magical new restroom mirrors at Picasso's Pizzeria (Feb. 5, 2016). Video by Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle.

▪ Hardee’s, 5602 E. Harry: The Wichita area’s third Hardee’s is set to open in March on the northeast corner of Harry and Hillside in a space that once was home to a QuikTrip. Hardee’s re-entered the Wichita market early last year, when it opened a restaurant at 21st and Amidon followed by a new Hardee’s in Derby. Wichita had previously been a Hardee’s-free zone for 20 years.

▪ Doc Green’s, Central and Hillside: Tammi and Scott Kuthan plan to open the third Wichita location of their healthy-eating restaurant in a 3,000-square-foot space in the strip center that also has Freebirds World Burritos and Great Wall. They’re hoping to have it ready in March.

▪ Delano Diner, 1220 W. Douglas: Kassem Yassine, whose restaurant resume includes Marbella Cafe and LeMonde among many others, plans to open a breakfast and lunch restaurant in the old Braum’s building that’s been vacant since 2009. He’s been working on it for a while but thinks it could be ready in March.


▪ Slim Chickens, 21st and Greenwich: This fast-casual chicken chain will open its first Wichita store in late April or early May at Regency Lakes, in between Chili’s and Subway. The Fayetteville, Ark., chain serves made-to-order chicken and tenders with dipping sauces as well as sandwiches, salads and desserts.


▪ Reverie Coffee Roasters and Founders Bakery, 2202 E. Douglas: Owner Andrew Gough says he hopes to have his Reverie Coffee Roasters moved and his new Founders Bakery open by May 1. Gough is taking over space a third of a mile to the west of his current shop that has more room and more parking plus space for the adjoining bakery. Founders Bakery will be in the corner spot and will offer quick-prepared coffees and bakery items like croissants, scones and muffins. The space to the east of Founders will be Reverie, which will have more seating and will be designed for those who want to linger over coffee, craft beer, wine and cocktails. The new Reverie also will offer breakfast and lunch, and the menu will focus on brunch-type items like poached eggs with salmon, custom-made sausages and more.

People turned out to get free coffee from Reverie Coffee Roasters as part of a promotion for “Gilmore Girls” in observation of the 16th “Gilmoreaversary” of the show, which aired its first episode on Oct. 5, 2000. (October 5, 2016) video by Denise

▪ Andy’s Frozen Custard, 10788 W. 21st St.: This frozen-custard chain will open the first of several planned Wichita stores in May. As of now, the target date is May 17, a spokeswoman said. The chain is based in Springfield, Mo., and serves frozen desserts like custard and concretes. Andy’s stores don’t have indoor seating but do have drive-throughs and heated outdoor seating. The shell of the first restaurant can be seen now at NewMarket Square. Two other Wichita locations are planned, including one that should be open by September.


▪ Soon-to-be-named Brandon Steven steakhouse, 6200 W. 21st St.: Wichita car dealer Brandon Steven plans to open a high-end steakhouse in the former Player’s and Larry Bud’s space at 6200 W. 21st St. He first announced it in June and has recently removed all the old signs from the building. He’s about ready to announce the name he’s chosen and share more details, but he said it’s likely to open in June or July.


▪ Taco John’s, Derby Marketplace, Derby: Much to the delight of potatoes ole fans, Mohamad Touffaha is bringing a Taco John’s to the area. He hopes to open it in the Derby Marketplace, possibly by July. The nearest Taco John’s to Wichita are in Hutchinson and McPherson.

▪ IHOP, Derby Marketplace, Derby: The same building that houses Taco John’s will have an IHOP on the other end. Touffaha also hopes to have it ready by July.


▪ Oak & Pie Pizzeria and Wine Bar, 2244 N. Greenwich: Greystone Steak & Seafood owner John Arnold plans to open this new restaurant this spring right next to the Meddy’s at Village at Greenwich. The menu will feature pies made with artisan imported cheeses, hand-cut specialty meats and homemade crust. The pizzas will be baked in a mosaic-tiled wood-burning oven. The restaurant also will have a wine room enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass.

▪ Sapporo, 8065 E. Peachtree Lane: The former owners of Sake, which operated at 2140 W. 21st St. (where Mizu Sushi is now) until March of last year are still planning to reopen their restaurant in a space near Kellogg and Rock, but it will likely be spring, said co-owner Fan Lin. The spot, which previously held China Inn, is in the corner of the L-shaped Peach Tree strip center that also holds an AT&T store and a Mattress Firm.

▪ Starbucks at Wichita State University, Innovation Campus: Wichita’s newest full-service Starbucks will be on the new Wichita State University Innovation Campus. It’ll occupy about 2,000 square feet north of the Woodman Alumni Center, near 21st Street and Mike Oatman Drive. It should be ready to go by early spring.

▪ Kind Kravings dine-in bus: Rochelle Collins, who opened her vegan food truck in 2015, is pioneering the dine-in food truck in Wichita. She recently purchased a double-decker bus and is busy renovating it into a restaurant on wheels that will have a kitchen on the bottom level and a dining room on the top level. Her goal is to have it ready by spring.

▪ Grinning Goblin Gaming Tavern, 1625 S. Rock Road: Jennifer Burton and her husband, Patrick Burton, are planning to open a gaming bar sometime this spring that will feature a full bar, some upscale bar food and a room full of gaming consoles and computers.

First half of 2017

▪ Blue Fin Sake Bar, 255 N. Washington: Though the owner of the restaurant going into the Taste & See space says he’s not ready to talk yet, he would say that his Blue Fin Sake Bar will serve Japanese fusion cuisine and mixed sake cocktails and would open during the first half of the year.