Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita restaurateur purchases popular runway-adjacent airport restaurant in Benton

2016: Annual Pumpkin Drop from airplanes fun for all

(FILE VIDEO -- OCTOBER 15, 2016) Pilots Monte Lamar and Tom Rybarczyk break down why throwing pumpkins from a plane more than 1,000 feet in the air is fun for participants and spectators alike at the annual Pumpkin Drop at Stearman Field near Benton.
Up Next
(FILE VIDEO -- OCTOBER 15, 2016) Pilots Monte Lamar and Tom Rybarczyk break down why throwing pumpkins from a plane more than 1,000 feet in the air is fun for participants and spectators alike at the annual Pumpkin Drop at Stearman Field near Benton.

Stearman Field Bar & Grill has a new owner, and Wichita knows him well.

Restaurateur John Arnold just purchased the Benton restaurant, which is loved for its runway adjacent views at the Stearman Field Airport, from owners Monte and Yvette Ysidro. Arnold already owns three Wichita restaurants: Greystone Steak & Seafood at 9719 E. 21st St. North, Deano’s Grill & Tapworks at 9747 E. 21st St. North; and Oak & Pie at 2244 N. Greenwich.

Arnold said he was introduced to the owners by a mutual friend, and he was so impressed with the place, he made them an offer.

“I just thought it was the coolest place I’d ever seen,” said Arnold, who describes himself as an airplane buff. “It’s kind of like a landmark, like Eskimo Joe’s in Oklahoma. In the restaurant world, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The restaurant originally opened in 2010, when airport owners Dwayne and Julie Clemens realized that most small airports that had restaurants in them were always “hopping.” The Stearman Field Airport sits about 21 miles northeast of downtown Wichita in Benton.

They remodeled an existing building at the airport and added a grill, a fryer and a couple of freezers.

Since then, the place has become a popular destination for aviation buffs, and over the years, it’s grown. It now is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and it hosts several events throughout the year, including an airplane pumpkin drop in the fall.

It also draws a steady crowd of people who like to watch the small planes land on the runway just outside, and it’s regular stop for pilots who fly in and out of the airport.

Arnold said he plans to make a few changes at the restaurant, but that he doesn’t want to change the vibe. He wants to update some of the decor, get new tables and chairs and add some TVs where people can watch KU and Wichita State games.

“It’ll be just little touches and not a major overhaul because I think it’s an awesome place,” Arnold said. “I don’t think anything is wrong with the restaurant, or wouldn’t have bought it. It’s pretty neat.”

Arnold said he might make some changes to the menu over time but plans to keep the “core” items that are popular. The restaurant is known for its breakfast and weekend brunches as well as for its burgers, bar food appetizers, pizzas and entrees like chicken pot pie, steak and meatloaf.

The address of Stearman Field Bar & Grill is 14789 SW 30th St., Benton. For more information, call 316-778-1612.

  Comments