Dining With Denise Neil

Ernie Biggs is closing, but a popular Wichita burger spot is moving in

Ernie Biggs, the dueling piano bar that has operated in the former spot of The Grape since 2012, is closing.

But a second location of Dempsey’s Burger Pub will soon take its place.

On Saturday, the management of Ernie Biggs, 550 N. Rock Road, announced on Facebook that this coming Saturday, Nov. 18, will be its last night in business. The post said that bar’s players will continue to perform at weddings and corporate events and that “we haven’t closed the door on reopening in a new location if the right situation presents itself.”

But the spot won’t remain vacant for long.

Steven Gaudreau, who owns both Dempsey’s Burger Pub at 3700 E. Douglas in Clifton Square and Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. at 3425 E. Douglas, said that when he heard the space was available, he decided to grab it up for a second Dempsey’s. The original will remain open.

“This kind of fell in our lap,” Gaudreau said on Monday. “We were looking for locations for six months or more. We were looking out west but couldn’t find a space. And I’ve always wanted this space since it was The Grape. I like the feel of that strip center. I like the look of it. It doesn’t feel like a strip center.”

Gaudreau, who said he’d like to have the new Dempsey’s open by New Year’s Eve, said that he will divide the massive space into two parts. The area just inside the front entrance, which has been operating as the bar area of Ernie Biggs, and the enclosed patio will be the spaces that Dempsey’s occupies. Another downstairs space and an upstairs area will be available to rent for caterings and private events.

The second Dempsey’s will have the same menu as the original and will also offer craft beer, upscale cocktails, a Saturday and Sunday brunch and some entree specials created by executive chef Bill Crites, Gaudreau said. The space will need some remodeling but he doesn’t thing it will take too long.

Gaudreau said that based on business during Dempsey’s three years at Clifton Square, Wichita can definitely support a second and maybe a third restaurant. He’d still consider a west-side space if he could find the right one, he said.

“We’re so busy at the Burger Pub,” he said. “It’s been three years and there’s still a wait seven days a week.”

Stay tuned for more news on an opening date for the new Dempsey’s.

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