Dining With Denise Neil

Two new restaurant patios opening in Wichita will make you feel like you’re in Europe

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe – or even to cities bigger than Wichita – you’ve likely seen and envied their inviting sidewalk cafes, filled with happy diners sipping wine in the spring air. Maybe, like me, you’ve even slowed down to inspect what they’re eating.

On Friday, Wichita will gain two new sidewalk patios that owners are hoping will create that same feel in the Douglas Design District.

The construction that’s been dampening business in the 1700 block of East Douglas – especially at Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria and its next-door neighbor, Hopping Gnome Brewing Company – is nearing completion. The worst of it is behind Piatto and Hopping Gnome, who now have two brand-new, expanded sidewalks in front of their businesses.

On Friday evening, both restaurants will debut new Douglas-facing patios, and owners are hoping that the additions will add to the lively feel of their already hopping businesses.

“It provides us with that much more exposure, and it's reminiscent of the sidewalk cafes in Italy,” said Robert McMullin, Piatto’s owner. “Douglas Design District keeps getting more and more attention, and we want to continue to develop and add value to an already thriving area.”

The only downfall: Both patios are smaller than the owners anticipated they’d be, and each will feature eight seats. (Hopping Gnome also will have a stand-up counter area.) Both patios will have fencing around them, per city code.

Piatto already has a large back patio, which features 40 seats. But neighbor Hopping Gnome has only indoor seating. Co-owner Stacy Lattin said that getting some outdoor seating has been a long-time goal.

“We think it will enhance everyone’s experience and help open it up when we are really busy,” she said.

Piatto is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Hopping Gnome is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays, from noon to midnight Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

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