Dining With Denise Neil

Ten years after it closed, once-popular Wichita restaurant coming back for one night

A scene from inside Willie C’s during its heyday
A scene from inside Willie C’s during its heyday File photo

It’s been 10 years since Bill Rowe closed Wichita’s last remaining Willie C’s, which for years had been THE place to dine in Wichita. People would crowd in for the playful decor, the chicken fried steaks and the baked potato soup.

In a little more than a week, people who miss the restaurant will be able to revisit its best dishes at a special revival meal, which will be put on from 4 to 9 p.m. March 10 at Rowe’s Villa Luna venue, 8406 W. Central.

The event is being brought to you, the advertisements say, by Blue Moon Caterers, which Rowe now owns, and by “the ghost of Willie C’s Cafe.”

This is the third straight year for the one-night revival, which has drawn huge crowds in the past.

The meal will be a buffet, and it will feature Willie C’s favorites like chicken fried steak, stacked enchiladas, quesadillas, grilled burritos, meat loaf and fajitas, and beer and margaritas also will be served. The cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 4 to 12, free for ages 3 and under. Rowe isn’t taking reservations – it’s first come, first served.

Willie C’s, one of Wichita’s most popular dining destinations during its heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, closed its last location in 2008.

Rowe founded Willie C’s in 1985 and modeled it after a Texas-style cafe. At one time, he had five restaurants including an east-side restaurant on the perimeter of Towne East Square and a west-side restaurant at 656 S. West St., just north of the West street exit on Kellogg. He also had Willie C’s in Topeka, Lawrence and St. Joseph, Mo.

He closed the out-of-Wichita restaurants in the late 1990s, followed by the east-side Willie C’s in the fall of 2000. He kept the west side going until May 2008.

For more information, call 316-612-4694.

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