Dining With Denise Neil

Dueling pianos left the east side, but they’re setting up in Old Town

For five years, Wichita had a dueling piano bar, where talented keyboardists would take requests and entertain the crowd with humor and music.

Then, last month, Ernie Biggs at 550 N. Rock Road suddenly closed, and burger pub Dempsey’s announced it was taking over the space.

But the pianos will continue to duel in Wichita.

Eric and Tracy Ragain, who are working to open The Bullpen sports bar in the recently closed Joe’s Oldtown Bar & Grill space at 222 N. Washington, have decided to turn the attached space next door into a dueling piano bar called Keys. Former Joe’s owners Charlie Badeen and David Allan and used the space as a dance club and called it 316 Lounge & Nightclub.

“Ernie Biggs went out of town, and we think that they would be better suited in downtown, where have walk-buy traffic,” Eric Ragain said. “We wanted to make a new home for them.”

By “them,” Ragain means two of Ernie Biggs’ most popular pianists, known to fans and Sheldon and David. They have signed on to perform at Keys, he said.

Dueling piano bars are popular with birthday and bachelorette parties, Ragain said, and he thinks Keys will go over well in Old Town. He plans to open on New Year’s Eve and hopes to open The Bullpen on the same night.

Keys will likely be open Wednesday through Saturday evenings, and there will be a small cover charge. Patrons at Keys can order food from The Bullpen next door.

“We think those concepts will work will together,” he said.

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