Dining With Denise Neil

People think this new Wichita business is a restaurant, but they're only kind of right

Gaga's Grub owner Dustin Presley has taken over the old Byblos space and is now offering private dinners for six to 12 people.
Gaga's Grub owner Dustin Presley has taken over the old Byblos space and is now offering private dinners for six to 12 people. The Wichita Eagle

There's a new business in the old Byblos space on West 13th Street, and it looks an awful lot like a restaurant.

It's not, though you can eat there, and a seasoned chef will even cook for you.

Dustin Presley, who owns Gaga's Grub food truck, took over the space at 3088 W. 13th St. earlier this year. He even put up a Gaga's Grub sign outside.

But Presley, the colorful chef known for the catchphrase "smooch, blessings, feed yo belly," isn't running the business like a typical restaurant. Instead, he's continuing his long-standing practice of putting on what he calls "P.M. Sessions." Groups of six to 12 can book a private evening meal, and Presley — a longtime restaurant cook — will prepare them an eight-course dinner.

Even though tacos are his specialty and what he serves on his popular food truck, the P.M. Session food is not tacos. Presley serves meals centered around steaks, grilled fish, unique potato preparations and homemade desserts. He prefers to let his creativity take over and surprise his guests. He calls his style of cooking "fun, colorful, spunky, sloppy expressionism."

"You have to have an open palate," Presley said.

The dinners start at $50 a person, and Presley will take reservations seven nights a week. He asks customers to bring their own beer or wine. Diners then gather around a unique, handmade half-circle table, and Presley cooks in the kitchen space next door, presenting course after course.

Presley, who worked at a long list of Wichita restaurants, including Timberline and Cibola, moved back to Wichita from Perry, Oklahoma, in 2016 and brought his taco truck with him. He briefly opened a taco restaurant called Gaga's Grub Lil Taco Joint at 1227 S. Seneca. The traffic wasn't good at the spot, so Presley closed the restaurant but continued with the food truck. He also started offering his P.M. Sessions in the spot.

But earlier this year, his landlord sold the building, and Presley relocated his home base to the old Byblos space, which had been vacant since then-owners Rania Taha and Bashar Mahanweh closed it last May. Presley said he was a longtime fan of Byblos and frequented it when Ilham Saad owned it.

Presley also is still taking his truck out three to nine times a week, and he'll also cater in-house dinners.

To book a P.M. Session, email gagasgrub@gmail.com or text or call 580-370-0918.

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