Dining With Denise Neil

Burgers worth the drive: Two new small-town spots open near Wichita

Gurty’s, a new locally owned burger restaurant in Newton, serves both crinkle-cut and shoestring fries.
Gurty’s, a new locally owned burger restaurant in Newton, serves both crinkle-cut and shoestring fries.

Wichita loves a greasy burger, enough that a drive to get a good one is nothing.

Now, Wichita has two new excuses to hit the road. A couple of burger entrepreneurs in towns nearby Wichita – Newton and Arkansas City – have just opened new restaurants, and both are just short drives away.

One hopes to provide a hangout for young people in search of affordable appetizers, good burgers and wacky shakes. The other is offering a fast-food burger alternative to small-towners who prefer never-frozen beef and hand-cut fries.

Road trip!

Gurty’s Burgers & Shakes

214 E. 12th St., Newton, 316-333-1878

Tuesday, July 18, is opening day for Gurty’s Burgers & Shakes, which is owned by Murray Anderson.

Last year, Anderson opened 12 Brew Drive Thru coffee shop in a former car wash at 12th and Oak in Newton, and it’s been a hit, he said.

Anderson also owns the nearby strip center that houses his Anderson Retail Liquor as well as the former Conoco building that had been home to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. When it went out of business, Anderson tried but failed to find a suitable replacement.

He didn’t want to get back into the restaurant business, but he had experience. Anderson once owned The Grilled Onion, a burger restaurant that operated n the food court of the former Newton Factory Outlet Stores.

“I had a really good manager in mind and a cook already, so I took the plunge,” he said. “And we’ve got a real, real neat restaurant concept.”

Anderson, who raised his kids in Newton, said he wants the restaurant to be a hangout for high school and college-age students, whose practice is to meet up for appetizers at a local Applebee’s.

To that end, he’s created an unusually long list of appetizer options for Gurty’s that includes 16 options like jumbo tater tots, Canada-style poutine, mac-n-cheese wedges, chili cheese fries, fried cheddar cheese cubes and more.

“We’re a mile from the high school and a mile from Bethel College, so we feel like we’re really well positioned,” he said.

Anderson also serves gourmet burgers with titles like the “I Shot J.R. Burger” and both crinkle-cut and shoestring fries. He’s also serving hand-dipped ice cream shakes in wild flavors. One he’s particularly proud of incorporates an entire Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie into a shake.

Gurty’s is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Anderson describes the atmosphere as “fast-casual.” People order at the counter and then pick up their food when their number is called.

Anderson said he thinks his concept will work well in Newton.

“I didn’t want to open just a hamburger place,” he said. “I wanted something people really thought was cool. I wanted to be top notch. And I think we are.”

Burger Junkie

611 W. Madison, Arkansas City, 620-442-6666

When you get that craving for a juicy, greasy burger, nothing else will do.

“When you want one, you want one,” said Chris Goodman.

That addiction was the inspiration for the name of Goodman’s new restaurant, Burger Junkie, which opened in June at 611 W. Madison, Arkansas City.

Goodman, who has worked in the restaurant industry for years, said he wanted to open up his own place. He found a spot in Arkansas City that had previously held a hamburger restaurant for 32 years. He snatched it up and spent five months remodeling it.

His restaurant is modeled after a 1950s diner and even has a Wurlitzer Bubbler Jukebox, he said.

His burgers are all made with fresh meat – “There are no freezers in the building at all,” he said. He also makes hand-cut fries and tops his burgers with onions grilled in a cast-iron skillet.

People in Arkansas City have been supportive of the restaurant so far, he said, and he’s had people drive from Winfield, Ponca City and Wichita to try his burgers.

Burger Junkie is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

(FILE VIDEO -- JULY 6, 2016) Friends Tom Kluge and Kent Kruske have been visiting local burger joints together for 15 years. They have a spreadsheet with remarks about their dining experiences.

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