Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita’s first Huddle House is open for business

The new Huddle House at 21st and Amidon has one half-circle booth where diners can “huddle up.”
The new Huddle House at 21st and Amidon has one half-circle booth where diners can “huddle up.” The Wichita Eagle

Update:The new Huddle House is now officially open as of Wednesday, Dec. 12.

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The new Huddle House going up at Twin Lakes near 21st and Amidon has looked done for a long time.

Now, it is.

This week, the restaurant — Wichita’s first from the Huddle House chain — has corporate trainers in town working with its new staff, and the restaurant should be open sometime next week, they said, though they could not pinpoint an exact date.

Huddle House is kind of like IHOP in that it serves diner-style breakfast and lunch dishes, and breakfast is available anytime. Local lawyer-turned-restaurant developer Abdul Arif decided to bring the chain to Wichita with the help of his nephew, Tariq Azmi (the new owner of The Donut Whole). They’re opening a second Huddle House at Kellogg and Seneca in Wichita. Construction is underway, and the two say they hope it will be ready before spring.

Arif said he got the idea to open a breakfast restaurant in Wichita two years ago when he was driving around with his nephew late one night. They saw Mort’s in Old Town emptying out at closing time and wondered where those people could go to get a late-night breakfast.

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Wichita’s first Huddle House is set to open next week at Twin Lakes near 21st and Amidon. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

They liked the Huddle House chain, and they pinpointed the 21st and Amidon area, which has been lacking a breakfast restaurant since Kings X closed in 2012 to make way for a new CVS Pharmacy.

Huddle House will be open 24 hours on the weekends only. It’ll open on Friday mornings and stay open until midnight on Sundays. Otherwise, the hours will be 6 a.m. to midnight daily. The overnight hours on the weekends, however, won’t start until the restaurant has been open for about a month, Azmi said.

The Twin Lakes Huddle House is a little smaller than the one planned for Kellogg and Seneca and seats 72. There’s one big half-circle booth in the back (ideal for huddling) and a mix of booths and tables throughout the rest of the dining room.

Huddle House is part of an Atlanta-based chain that started in 1964. According to Huddle House legend, founder John Sparks was trying to decide on a name for his new breakfast chain when one evening, in his restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, a group of boys came in after football practice. One of the boys had a helmet in one hand and a football in the other, and when his friends joined him, they were all leaned in and laughing together. It looked like the were “huddled up,” and Sparks decided to go with the name Huddle House. (He died in 1978, and now the chain is owned by a private firm.)

The restaurant is known for its thick pancakes — just short of an inch thick, one trainer bragged — and its big breakfast menu.

IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, changed its name Monday to the International House of Burgers in a spectacular marketing ploy. Instead of brunch, breakfast or biscuits, IHOB is rolling out a new line of burgers.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.

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