Dining With Denise Neil

Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. ready to open – and to burn a few tongues

Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. will open in the former Fork & Fennel space at dinner time on Wednesday.
Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. will open in the former Fork & Fennel space at dinner time on Wednesday. Dempsey’s Biscuit Co.

The highly anticipated Dempsey’s Biscuit Co., the new restaurant by Dempsey’s owner Steven Gaudreau, will open its doors on Wednesday.

But if you decide to give it a try during its first few days in operation, Gaudreau and his staff want you to keep a few things in mind.

First: Although the staff had a successful friends-and-family test run on Monday night, it’s still working out all the details. And the restaurant, which took over the space at 3425 E. Douglas that was vacated when Fork & Fennel closed in October, has only 14 tables. So patience would be appreciated.

Second: It’s not a breakfast place.

Diners in Wichita have been buzzing about the new business, which will operate right across the street from Gaudreau’s two-year-old Dempsey’s Burger Pub in Clifton Square, since Gaudreau first announced his plans.

But he’s realized since then that putting the word “biscuit” in the title of the restaurant might have given some people the wrong idea about what it will serve.

Though it will have brunch on weekends, the restaurant’s focus is Southern food, not breakfast. And its specialty will be hot fried chicken – as in spicy hot – which can be ordered as a sandwich on a homemade biscuit or as part of a combo meal with a biscuit on the side.

“It’ll be a lunch and dinner spot,” Gaudreau said. “The whole feel of it is supposed to be like a Southern backyard picnic.”

The Nashville-style hot fried chicken will be the star of the menu, Gaudreau said, and it will come in three temperatures.

The “hot” is sweet and spicy and is actually pretty mild. Tamer palates and even children should be able to handle it, he said.

The “hot hot” is designed for people who like hot food. It does have some ghost pepper in the sauce, which will bring on the burn.

The hottest version is called “reaper,” and Gaudreau said it’s designed “for crazy people like me that like stupid hot stuff that makes your eyes tear up.”

The menu will be split up into three main sections. The sandwich section will feature eight varieties that feature fried chicken breast served on a biscuit with a side of cole slaw. Different sandwiches will have toppings like fried eggs, house-made pickles or sausage gravy.

Then there’s the fried chicken section of the menu, which will feature two-piece combination of fried chicken – maybe a leg and a thigh or a thigh and a breast – served with a biscuit on the side.

Finally, a section of kitchen specialties will include items like chicken and waffles, meant to be eaten with the restaurant’s house-made maple bourbon syrup and hot sauce on top, plus biscuits and gravy, which will be served all the time.

The restaurant also will include several different salads and desserts, and its Southern-style side dishes will include smoked gouda mac and cheese, pea salad with bacon, and a cole slaw with a vinegar-based dressing.

It’ll also have a full bar, and on weekends, it’ll serve brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Customers will order at the counter and wait for their food to be delivered. Staff members will roam the dining room taking drink orders.

About the biscuits: Gaudreau said his cook worked and worked to get the right biscuit recipe for the restaurant. When he made his seventh batch, he nailed it. So Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. calls its biscuits “Batch 7 biscuits.” The biscuits are “amazingly good,” Gaudreau said, and his kitchen also came up with a good gluten-free version, which it will introduce soon.

Gaudreau said he didn’t have to change much inside the restaurant from its Fork & Fennel days. He replaced the floors and added new furniture and light fixtures, but otherwise, it was ready to go.

Dempsey’s Biscuit Co will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. On weekends, it’ll be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch then from 3 to 10 p.m. for dinner.

But for the first two days in business – Wednesday and Thursday – it will open at 5 p.m. and serve dinner only. Regular hours start on Friday with the first brunch service happening on Saturday.