Can she handle it? Dining with Denise samples Wichita’s hottest dishes
A new year, a new list of restaurants to start salivating over.
Just like always, 2018 will be a busy time for restaurant openings. Almost a dozen new eateries could be ready to go just within the next two months.
Here’s our annual list of restaurants to look forward to opening this year. As always, keep two things in mind:
One: Restaurants rarely are able to open exactly when owners say they will, so unless a specific date is mentioned, odds are decent they’ll need more time.
And two: If you think this is a long list, just wait. By the middle of the year, a whole new group of names will need to be added.
6S Steakhouse, 6200 W. 21st St. Managers of this long-awaited west-side restaurant say it will be open for business on Saturday, Jan 20. It’s in the former Players and Larry Bud’s space, which has been transformed into a sleek fine-dining restaurant with an eye-catching lobby chandelier visible from the street. Though it looks high-end, managers insist the restaurant will have entrees that fit a variety of budgets. Its hours will be 4 to 10 p.m. daily.
Reverie Coffee Roasters and Founders Bakery, 2202 E. Douglas: Owner Andrew Gough, who just opened a second Reverie on the ground level of the Garvey Center, says he should have his original Reverie Coffee Roasters moved and his new Founders Bakery open by late January or early February. Founders Bakery will be in the corner of his new spot and will offer quick-prepared coffees and bakery items like croissants, scones and muffins. The space to the east of Founders will be Reverie, which will have more seating and will be designed for those who want to linger over coffee, craft beer, wine and cocktails.
Dempsey’s Burger Pub East, 550 N. Rock Road: The spot that lost Ernie Biggs in November will soon gain a Dempsey’s Burger Pub. 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, will open his second burger restaurant in the space in the next couple of weeks. The second Dempsey’s will have the same menu as the original and also will offer craft beer, upscale cocktails, a Saturday and Sunday brunch and some entree specials created by executive chef Bill Crites.
Taco John’s, Derby Marketplace, Derby: The closest Taco John’s to Wichita is set to open in the Derby Marketplace in Derby late in January.
Jack’s North Hi Carryout, 603 W. 13th St.: Another owner is going to reopen this iconic Wichita burger restaurant, which originally opened in 1951 and sits just across the street from North High School. Local entrepreneur Shawn Gilbert hopes to have the restaurant reopened no later than Feb. 1. He doesn’t have the recipes from previous incarnations of the restaurant, so he’s planning to go his own way and serve items like sliders, corn dogs, fries and onion rings.
Chisholm’s American Beef & Ale House, inside the DoubleTree by Hilton, 2098 S. Airport Road: Legends Restaurant is out, and in its place will be this new steakhouse, which will specialize in steaks and beer. It should be open by early February.
The Light Dry Bar and Grill, 1051 N. Broadway: Laura Broyles, the head of the nonprofit New Life Reentry Program, hopes to open The Light Dry Bar and Grill, a restaurant and non-alcoholic bar, by Feb. 16, she said. The business, which will be in the long-vacant Burger King space on North Broadway, will give clients from her nonprofit a place to work. New Life Reentry Program focuses on women who have been in prison and are trying to restart their lives. The nonprofit has a home where it serves about five women at a time.
DQ Grill & Chill, 7575 W. Maple: The Dairy Queen that has been under construction for several months in front of the Target at Maple and Ridge should be open on Feb. 9. Jeff and Jana Pinney are opening the restaurant, which will have a drive-through. The couple also has the DQ at the corner of of 37th and Maize Road, which they opened in 2015.
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, 305 N. Rock Road: Anyone who’s driven past the old Pho Hot Bistro space on Rock Road has likely seen the bright yellow paint and whimsical sign for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which should open in mid-February. Fuzzy’s is part of a chain with 115 stores across the country, and it serves Baja-style Mexican food plus tequila and margaritas.
Texas Roadhouse, 2526 N. Greenwich: Wichita’s second Texas Roadhouse is set to open on Feb. 26, and Wichita will see if the east side loves the restaurant as much as the west-side, which has been perpetually packed since it opened in late 2004. The new restaurant is in front of Academy Sports at Greenwich and K-96.
Krab Kingz Seafood, location TBA: It hasn’t chosen a site yet, but this Texas-based chain hopes to open a restaurant in Wichita by late February. The restaurant offers a menu that includes crab, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn. It also has a full bar.
Black Bean Canteen, 2621 N. Greenwich: Accountant and fitness enthusiast Bill Leppert has been planning this healthy cafe for a while now but says that finding the right location has been tougher than he expected. He’s hoping for a March opening for his cafe, which will serve smoothies, steamed fish, chicken dishes and soups.
Nortons Brewing Company, 125 N. St. Francis: Longtime River City Brewing Co. head brewer Dan Norton and his wife, Becky, are opening their own place, and he vows to have it ready by the time March Madness arrives in Wichita. He’s aiming form March 15 at the latest for his new brewery, which is going into a 9,000-square-foot building across from Bite Me BBQ. Dan will brew the beer, and Becky will manage the restaurant, which will serve a menu of “greasy flattop burgers,” funnel cakes, fries, sandwiches, salads and more. The couple also plans a big outdoor beer garden with a stage.
Chick N Max, 2350 N. Greenwich: A second Wichita Chick N Max is slated to open sometime in March in the former Freebirds spot near 21st and Greenwich.
Huddle House, Twin Lakes Shopping Center, 21st and Amidon: Wichita’s first location of this restaurant, a 24-hour diner chain in the vein of IHOP and Denny’s, should be open by April. Franchisee Abdul Arif said he’d eventually like to build one in the downtown area as well.
El Agave, 3540 N. Maize Road: Wichita’s second El Agave Mexican Restaurant could be open by May at Fox Ridge Plaza. The original is at 3236 N. Rock Road. Construction should start soon.
Reverie in the library, Second and McLean: Another Reverie Coffee Roasters will open inside the new $33 million Advanced Learning Library that’s almost complete now. It’ll be ready when the library opens, which should be some time in May.
Cowboy Chicken, North Rock Road: Wichita’s first location of this chain, which serves wood-fired rotisserie chicken, also should open sometime in May on North Rock Road.
Wheat State Dogs, food cart: Pat Handley, a longtime vegan, plans to launch a hot dog cart specializing in vegan hot dogs made using wheat gluten and soy. He’ll park the cart in all the “usual food truck-y places” and at local farmers markets. The cart should be ready to hit the road no later than springtime.
Chick-fil-A, Maple and Ridge: Another free-standing Chick-fil-A will open in Wichita, this one in front of the Lowe’s at Maple and Ridge. The restaurant should be ready by late summer.
Chick N Max, 21st and Amidon: A third Wichita Chick N Max is slated to open sometime this summer in the Twin Lakes Shopping Center near 21st and Amidon.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Meridian and I-235: Wichita will get a seventh Freddy’s, this one on the south-side, this year. It should be ready by late summer or early fall.
Jersey Mike’s Subs, undetermined location: It’s been more than a year since franchisees announced plans to bring Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants to Wichita, but they now say 2018 is the year. They’re looking for locations and aren’t sure which side of town they’ll choose but say they hope to have one open by the first part of 2018.
Carlos O’ Kelly’s and HomeGrown for the east side: Sasnak Management, which owns the Carlos O’ Kelly’s chain and the new HomeGrown restaurant on the west side, should have a busy 2018. By the end of the year, it should have a new mega-Carlos O’ Kelly’s open as well as a second HomeGrown. Both are slated for the east side, and the company is close to making decisions on locations, a spokesman said. Both restaurants should be ready to go by the end of the year.
Chicken N Pickle, 13th and Greenwich: This wild new restaurant is set to open by next fall in the Plazzio Center at 13th and Greenwich (also home to the east-side Warren Theatre, Sumo, Cheddar’s and more.) In addition to serving fried and rotisserie chicken, it’ll have six indoor and six outdoor pickle ball courts as well as a rooftop bar, fire pits and more.