“Tight Ends” restaurant gets closer to opening
When he opened his first Tight Ends Sports Bar & Grill in Plano, Texas, in 2015, Tim Dungan was just trying to create the type of place he’d like to hang out, he said.
Dungan, a onetime football tight end for a small college in Minnesota, centered the brand around three concepts.
“The brand we created was to have the best looking staff in any area, to have a killer atmosphere, and to have sneakily, suspiciously great food and beverages,” he said. “That was it. Those three things are the cornerstones of the brand I created.”
The result was Tight Ends, a sports bar that’s known mostly for its waitresses in revealing outfits that are barely there, particularly in the posterior region. After Plano, a Dallas suburb, Dungan opened a Tight Ends in the Houston suburb of League City in 2016. And now, the third is about to open in Wichita.
Dungan signed a licensing agreement for his restaurant concept with a group of five Wichita partners, including local defense attorney Kurt Kerns (a onetime KU football player) and co-owner/general manager Elysia Rizo, who is in the process of finding “the best looking staff” for the Wichita restaurant.
Tight Ends should be open at the end of August, she said. During a tour of the almost-finished space on Tuesday, she showed off a large bar that will have a long list of local beers on tap, a giant Wichita flag mural on the north wall, an outdoor space that will eventually hold patio furniture and fire pits, and a large dining room that should seat around 200.
She also brought two of the restaurant’s future waitresses, who in Tight Ends vernacular are called “appearance models.” They wore cropped, tight fitting football jerseys and short-short-shorts that were cut extra high on the backside. A perusal of the Facebook pages for the Plano and League City stores show that these outfits are among the least revealing that Tight Ends waitresses will don, especially on “Lingerie Friday.”
Dungan was in town this week to check out progress on the restaurant, which was built in a new development at the corner Kellogg and Seneca that had previously been a vacant lot. The new strip center, called One Kellogg Place and built by local lawyer and developer Abdul Arif, has been slowly taking shape this year and also will house a nail salon and a Huddle House breakfast restaurant. (It’ll be Wichita’s second Huddle House, but it likely won’t be open until November or December.)
While in town, Dungan talked about how the Tight Ends concept got started and how he tries to fight negative reception from people who don’t like the idea of the scantily clad waitresses. He and his partners have already faced opposition in Wichita, where last summer, residents of the nearby Delano neighborhood started a petition opposing Tight Ends, saying it wasn’t the kind of family-friendly business they wanted in their neighborhood.
When he was first developing the restaurant, he said, he just imagined a place where he would like to be. He saw it as more of a sports bar than a restaurant, and the name really was inspired by his former position on the football team, he said.
“I was really creating a cool sports bar with a high energy, fun environment where there can be cool events,” he said. “And yeah, it’s going to be a little more sexier than other types of things, but that was a place I would want to go every single day.”
He doesn’t like comparisons to places like Twin Peaks and Hooters, he said, because he thinks his concept is a step above. But he knows those comparisons are inevitable.
“The food and beverage was going to be superior to what the perceived competition was going to be,” he said.
The managers are still working on the menu, which will be similar to the menus at the two Texas restaurants. It will include wings, nachos, sandwiches and steaks, and Dungan said the burgers are especially popular. Everything is made from scratch, he said.
Rizo said the restaurant will get involved with the community in positive ways, and Tight Ends is planning partnerships with the Wichita Thunder and the Kansas International Dragway. They also will have a party bus that will shuttle people back and forth from the new baseball stadium when it’s done.
Over the coming weeks, Tight Ends will finish its hiring, add flooring and furniture and then open the doors.
Rizo said that as construction has continued, people have become more receptive and she hears fewer negative comments. Many people tell her that they like the way the new development has revitalized a once deserted corner.
“People are definitely excited now that they see everything coming into place, that we’re developing the area and that that we’re providing jobs for them and people they know and love,” she said. “I think that has really changed the whole attitude and theme of the neighborhood.”
Stay tuned for updates on Tight Ends’ opening day.