Dining With Denise Neil

Burgers didn’t fly and tacos didn’t take, so this man says he’s done with restaurants

Taco Ville in Haysville closed on Saturday.
Taco Ville in Haysville closed on Saturday.

He’s given it a try — more than one try, actually — but now Willie Lusk says he’s leaving the restaurant business behind.

“I’m done,” he said.

On Saturday, Lusk closed his Taco Ville, the Haysville fast-food Mexican restaurant he opened at the beginning of the year at 240 N. Main. Previously, Lusk had run Johnny B’s out of the space.

Lusk said that Taco Ville just didn’t take, and he didn’t have enough business.

What went wrong?

“I don’t really know,” he said. “I wish I had answers.”

He decided to close when he got behind on his bills and rent even though he and his wife were both working in the restaurant nonstop, he said.

Lusk, a Haysville native, bought a burger restaurant called Johnny B’s from its original owner in 2007. He closed it from 2011 to 2014, but reopened it and was so intent on making it work, he tried many different methods, including adding Mexican food, serving breakfast and offering coupons.

At one point, he put up a comment box where customers could tell him what kind of restaurant they wanted, vowing to change the concept if necessary.

Instead, Lusk closed Johnny B’s in December of 2017. But less than a month later, he was back with a new idea: tacos. Fast-food tacos were something Haysville didn’t have, he reasoned, and that might boost his chances for success with Taco Ville.

It didn’t.

Now, Lusk said, he’s trying to figure out what’s next in his life.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m taking it one day at a time right now.”

A look at 10 of the Wichita restaurants that closed in 2017.

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