Dining With Denise Neil

When celebs stop by: Two Wichita bars had famous weekend guests

Magician David Blaine, front row, fourth from left, spent about two and a half hours dining and hanging out with the staff at Public at the Brickyard on Sunday afternoon.
Magician David Blaine, front row, fourth from left, spent about two and a half hours dining and hanging out with the staff at Public at the Brickyard on Sunday afternoon. Courtesy photo

Apparently, the best time to experience a celebrity sighting in a Wichita bar is in the middle of the day on a Saturday or Sunday.

Over the weekend, two near-downtown bars were occupied by famous performers – and one even got a free show.

The first sighting happened midafternoon on Saturday at The Monarch, 579 W. Douglas. Owner Jen Ray was at the Wichita Riverfest, where she was serving her first year on the operations committee, but she got a text from one of her staff members.

“I think OK Go is here,” it read.

It’s not unusual for Riverfest acts to mosey over to The Monarch, Ray said, especially since it’s so close to the party zone. It’s one of the perks of the job, she said.

Ray instructed her employees to ask for a photo, which she put on The Monarch’s Facebook page. Sadly, she said, she was too busy working at the festival to even see the group’s concert, which drew 25,000 people to Kennedy Plaza.

The next day, Public at the Brickyard, 129 N. Rock Island, was in that slow period between brunch and dinner service when David Blaine, a magician and death-defying illusionist who was in town to perform Monday night at The Orpheum, strolled onto the patio.

Public’s owner, Travis Russell, said that his head chef had worked in Las Vegas and immediately recognized Blaine and sat down to talk. Soon, Blaine was performing card and sleight-of-hand tricks as more staff members and customers gathered to watch.

“He must have sat there for two and a half hours doing tricks,” Russell said.

Before leaving, Blaine offered to pose for a photo with the whole staff, several of whom decided to buy tickets to Monday night’s show.

“He did gain a lot of fans by being a genuine awesome person,” Russell said.

(FILE VIDEO -- FEBRUARY 3, 2017) Actor Harrison Ford ate breakfast at Doo-Dah Diner.

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