Dining With Denise Neil

Longtime Wichita restaurant forced to temporarily close after fire

Byblos at 3088 W. 13th St. will be closed for two or three weeks after a kitchen fire.
Byblos at 3088 W. 13th St. will be closed for two or three weeks after a kitchen fire. The Wichita Eagles

An overnight fire in the kitchen at Byblos, the longtime favorite Mediterranean restaurant at 3088 W. 13th St., will keep the restaurant closed for two or three weeks, owner Rania Taha said.

Although fire officials are still investigating, Taha said, it looks like a pot on the stove caught fire overnight. The stove will have to be replaced, and there’s smoke damage throughout the restaurant. New carpet and a coat of paint will be needed along with other repairs, she said.

“It could have been worse,” she said. “I was really relieved no one was hurt. Everything can be repaired.”

Taha said she got a call from the fire department at about 7:30 a.m. alerting her to the fire.

Taha and her huband, Bashar Mahanweh, took over the restaurant in September, when they purchased it from Ilham Saad, who had owned the restaurant since opening it in 1989.

The fire makes life even more hectic for the couple, who are also in the midst of opening a new restaurant. Petra Mediterranean Restaurant is almost ready to go in the former Passage to India space at 6140 E. 21st St., near 21st and Woodlawn.

The couple plans to serve Mediterranean and Arabic dishes, some of which are familiar to Wichita already and some of which are new. The restaurant will offer a mix of seating, including tables and chairs and some traditional cushion seating.

Petra should be ready to go in about three weeks, which could coincide with the reopening of Byblos, Taha said.

I’ll keep you posted on opening dates for both.