Dining With Denise Neil

Doo-Dah Diner owners plan major remodel, upgrade at five-year mark

Doo-Dah Diner, one of Wichita’s favorite breakfast and lunch places, is in line to get a major upgrade – and the extra tables its customers have long been demanding.

Patrick and Timirie Shibley, who opened the restaurant in 2012 in an old Radio Shack building at 206 E. Kellogg, are finalizing plans for an extensive remodel that will double the size of the kitchen and push the seating area out into the massive waiting area, increasing the number of seats from 90 to 125.

It’ll also afford the owners a chance to update the finishes in the restaurant and spiff it up overall.

“Our goal is to make this a premier kitchen and a premier restaurant,” said Patrick Shibley, the talent in the kitchen putting out plates of crab cakes Benedict, biscuits and gravy and Cuban sandwiches. “We want it to be a place that people will walk into and say, ‘This is exactly what I want in my town.’”

Though the couple hasn’t finalized their financing or architectural plans, they say they hope to have the upgrades done before the NCAA tournament arrives in town next March. They’ll likely have to close the diner for 60 days, they said, and they figure a good time to do that might be during their slower months of November and December.

The Shibleys opened Doo-Dah Diner five years ago to a warm reception. Since then, it’s become known for its massive plates of caloric goodness and has developed a loyal following. It’s also become a favorite of out-of-town visitors staying at nearby hotels and of the Wichita State University men’s basketball team, which hires the restaurant to cater pre-game meals each season.

Harrison Ford even visited there earlier this year.

At the five-year mark, Timirie said, the couple realized it was time to make some changes. If they wanted to grow their business – and they did – they knew they’d have to either move or remodel. Customers always ask the couple why they don’t add more tables to their cavernous waiting room next door to accommodate crowds and reduce waits. But the current kitchen setup is too small to be able to handle that volume, they say.

Several landlords have courted them to move to new buildings, but the Shibleys haven’t found anything ideal and are nervous about moving from their current space. They want to stay downtown.

Their plan is to eliminate much of the wall now separating the two spaces and to also incorporate a hidden space behind the waiting room for more seating. The waiting room would still exist but would be smaller. And the plan also includes new restrooms with more than one stall each plus a new parking lot.

Once the remodel is complete, Timirie said, the restaurant will start offering regular Sunday-night chicken dinners. A recent dinner they put on as a fundraiser drew more would-be ticket buyers than they could handle, she said, and they had to turn people away.

Stay tuned for details and a timeline on the Doo-Dah redo.

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