Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita restaurant owners change their minds about closing

Mumbai Rail’s owners decided not to close down after all.
Mumbai Rail’s owners decided not to close down after all. The Wichita Eagle

Their customers spoke, and the owners of Mumbai Rail Indian Bistro at 711 E. Douglas in downtown Wichita changed their minds about closing.

As of Monday, they had decided to undo the decision they announced late last week to close for several months while retooling and adding an upstairs, sit-down dining section.

Last week, owners Neil Bhakta and Mikel Bowyer said their restaurant would close at the end of business on April 15 and would not completely reopen until June, when they anticipated having an upstairs dining room with table-side service.

But on Saturday, after the announcement was published in Dining with Denise, the restaurant was packed with business, Bowyer said.

“We thought, ‘Well, OK, this is cool. We’ve got a little bit of a business push for our last goodbye,’ ” he said. “But then we were talking to these tables, and people were saying, ‘You can’t find cuisine like this in Wichita.’ It almost makes you feel obligated to provide it.’”

The owners regrouped and came up with a new plan.

For now, the business will continue normal hours, opening from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and from noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays. During those hours, customers can still get the restaurant’s “express service,” where they choose prepared items from a hot line they can see in front of them.

Starting May 3, the restaurant will extend its Monday through Thursday closing hours to 11 p.m. and its Friday and Saturday hours to midnight or later. Also on May 3, they’ll open their upgraded bar in hopes that crowds will come in for weekend cocktails.

Throughout that time, Bowyer said, they’ll be testing their eventual dinner menu, and the upstairs section with table side service – which they plan to call The Platform at Mumbai Rail – should open sometime in midsummer.

Mumbai Rail first opened about a year ago in the newly renovated Union Station project downtown.

Bowyer, founder of the ICT Food Circle, recently joined founder Bhakta to run the restaurant.

Stay tuned for more developments – though Bowyer promises the owners won’t change their minds again.

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil