Dining With Denise Neil

A new place in Wichita to grab a chicken fried steak, see a game, watch pianos duel

Downtown Wichita has a new hangout that has two identities.

One’s a sports bar with burgers, chicken fried steak and “bull fries” on the menu. The other is a dueling piano bar.

The Bullpen by Club Rodeo quietly opened earlier this week at 222 N. Washington in the space that was formerly home to Joe’s Oldtown Bar & Grill.

It’s owned by Eric and Tracy Ragain, who six years ago took over ownership of Club Rodeo, a nightclub and live music venue at 10001 E. Kellogg that also features live bull riding. The pair was ready to expand their business, Eric Ragain said, and his wife was interested in opening a sports bar.

The Bullpen is open for lunch and dinner and features a menu of soups and salads, burgers, sliders, sandwiches and entrees like chicken fried steak and flat iron steak. It also features several out-of-the ordinary appetizers, including bull fries (a.k.a. Rocky Mountain oysters,) alligator bites (a holdover favorite from Joe’s), fried green tomatoes, and poutine.

Its hours are 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Tuesdays.

The sports bar’s sister business, a new dueling piano bar called Keys, also has been open since New Year’s Eve. It’s in the adjoining space that Joe’s owners Charlie Badeen and David Allan had used as a dance club called 316 Lounge & Nightclub.

The Ragains saw an opportunity to draw dueling piano fans who had no place to go once Ernie Biggs at 550 N. Rock Road suddenly closed in November.

Keys is open from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday evenings, and the cover charge is $5. Patrons at Keys can order food from The Bullpen, so the kitchen will be serving until 1:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

So far, customers have given the business positive reviews, Eric Ragain said.

“It’s been good,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive reviews. People do like the food, and I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s kind of my first kitchen.”

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