Dining With Denise Neil

A longtime Wichita restaurateur is closing his south side diner, at least for now

He’s had the building at 1215 W. Pawnee since August of 2009, most recently running it as a diner called Gabel’s Family Restaurant.

But at the end of business Sunday, longtime Wichita restaurateur Craig Gabel plans to close the restaurant, he said. His lease is up, and the building needs a face lift. He’s hoping to renegotiate with the landlord, and if he can, he said, he’ll reopen sometime in the fall.

Gabel has owned a string of restaurants in the Wichita area over the last four decades.

He first opened a Gabel’s Family Restaurant in 1989 at Harry and Emporia and ran it there until 2000. He also had Gabel’s Steakhouse at Kellogg and Webb and Gabel’s restaurants near Central and Oliver, Pawnee and Seneca, and Central and West. He also had Mike’s Steak House at 2131 S. Broadway from 2004 until 2013.

In 2009, when he first took over the building in Westway Center on Pawnee, he opened a restaurant called Edy Burger. It closed, and in 2012, he leased it to a couple who operated it as a diner with an attached smokeshop called On the Fly. It was shortlived, and later that same year, he leased the spot to Cathy Hetterscheidt, who opened the spot as Cathy’s Westway Cafe. Then, Gabel did a mini-remodel on the building and ran it as Fireside Cafe.

Gabel’s Family Restaurant will close, at least for now, at the end of business on Sunday. Courtesy photo

In 2017, he decided to change the name to Gabel’s Family Restaurant and focus more on breakfast and home-style dishes.

Gabel, who will open the restaurant from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Sunday, said he wanted to make longtime customers aware of his plan.

“I thought some of the people might want to come in and say goodbye,” he said.