Dining With Denise Neil

This Wichita restaurant got a Gordon Ramsay makeover; Now, owners are reevaluating

It’s been nearly five months since the episode of celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “24 Hours to Hell and Back” featuring Wichita’s Fetch Bistro aired.

And since that day, when the national spotlight landed on the dog-friendly restaurant at 7718 E. 37th St. North owned by Greg and Pamela Buss, the owners have come to realize a few things.

Chief among them, Greg Buss said: Not all of the famous chef’s ideas were quite right for his business.

Since the show aired in late July, the Busses have made some significant changes to the restaurant, including changing its name, expanding its menu and taking on a partner from Ft. Worth who has experience turning restaurants around.

The restaurant, which is now called Fetch Bar & Grill, has all the same decor that Ramsay and his crew added when they made over the restaurant a year ago as part of “24 Hours to Hell and Back,” a show that was a big summer hit for the FOX network and that featured the famously caustic chef trying to save a struggling restaurant in 24 hours.

And they’ve kept many of the dishes that Ramsay and his team of chefs added when they were here, including the fish tacos and the chicken and biscuits. But they’ve dramatically increased the number of offerings on the menu, significantly beefing up the selection for both breakfast and dinner.

They’ve decided they want the restaurant to be seen more as a neighborhood bar and grill, and to that end, they’ve added a full bar and hired a bartender. The word “bistro,” which implies dainty eatery, no longer fits their mission, hence the name change.

Greg Buss said he decided to make the changes shortly after the show aired when he took on a partner — Tony Sawyer, a restaurant consultant based in Ft. Worth. Sawyer had seen the “Fetch” episode of the Ramsay show and liked the concept. He reached out to the Busses to express his interest in helping.

Sawyer said he initially met the couple in Dallas, then in August — a month after the show aired — came to Wichita to see the restaurant for himself. He’s been here ever since.

Most of the changes came from Sawyer’s suggestions. Although he’s a fan of Gordon Ramsay, he said, the famous chef didn’t leave the restaurant with a setup for success, particularly when he suggested they pare the menu down so dramatically.

“I think Gordon really hurt him by leaving him with only nine or 10 items on a dinner or lunch menu,” he said. “That’s just not that much to offer, and it’s not that small of a restaurant.”

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.