Dining With Denise Neil

Doo-Dah Diner has reopened downtown: Take a look inside the bigger, better space

They were going to wait until July 4 to open, but the restaurant was done and ready, so Doo-Dah Diner owners Patrick and Timirie Shibley decided “Why not?”

Opening day for the new-and-improved downtown Doo-Dah Diner is actually today, and already, regular customers have been filing in to check out the six months’ worth of improvements.

The popular diner’s downtown location has been closed since Dec. 30 so that the Shibleys could completely redo the building. When customers step in, they’ll find a massive dining room with seating for 160, a bright new checkerboard floor, big new restrooms, glittery retro booths, a vestibule that will keep weather from rushing in the dining room and more.

Though the space is all new, the Shibleys and their crew have somehow managed to retain the original flavor of the diner, keeping the popular counter, staying with the red-and-yellow color palette, covering the new tables in brightly printed vinyl tablecloths, and rehanging the photos and memorabilia that decorated the diner before it closed.

They’ve also included a tribute to the old diner by hiring Wichita artist Richard Davies to create a large painting of the original space. The piece now hangs in a place of prominence on the south wall and features images of both Timirie and Patrick, their beloved daily customer Richard Holmes and several other employees and regulars.

Wichita painter Richard Davies was commissioned to paint the original Doo-Dah Diner as it was, and his piece now hangs on the wall of the newly remodeled restaurant. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

Opening day has been dedicated to getting used to the new space and the new flow, said Timirie Shibley.

“It’s almost like opening a whole new restaurant,” she said.

The diner has resumed its regular downtown hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The Shibleys originally opened Doo-Dah Diner in an old Radio Shack building back in 2012. It was an instant hit, and customers loved the big plates of caloric goodness, including the Crab Cakes Benny and the Beefy Doo-Dad.

Two years later, the couple also acquired the adjacent space and turned it into a large waiting room and market area, but because waits for a table were always so long, customers would asked why they didn’t add more seating in the big space. The answer was that the tiny kitchen couldn’t handle crowds that big. But thanks to the remodel, it now can.

The Shibleys moved Doo-Dah Diner to a building at the corner of Harry and Webb during the six-month remodel and had intended to keep it as an east-side location. But there were problems with the building, and ultimately, they decided not to stay. It closed late last month.

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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.