Dining With Denise Neil

What happened to Chris Cakes? Popular Wichita pancake flipper has recently disappeared

If you’ve ever been at Central Riverside Park on the Fourth of July, at the Sedgwick County Zoo on Mother’s Day or any number of church and school fundraisers, you’ve seen Chris Cakes.

The Wichita franchise of the business, best known for its mobile pancake and sausage grill, had been owned and run by Rose Hill’s Kathy Xenos for the past 14 years, and during busy seasons, she would serve at between 30 and 35 events around the area each month.

But Xenos and her husband, Sheldon, have closed the Chris Cakes that served Wichita and relocated to Kansas City, where he continues to recover from a difficult brain surgery. Xenos said she tried to sell the business before she left but was unable to, so she sold her equipment off piece-by-piece.

Steve Hamilton, who owns the Kansas City-based Chris Cakes, said that because there was no one who could take over in Wichita, he absorbed the business into his Kansas City operations. He can still send people to serve in Wichita, but it is only cost effective now to take on larger events, he said.

Word of Xenos’ departure is slowly getting out, but she said she still hears from people who want Chris Cakes to feed the crowds at their fundraisers.

“I still get three or four calls a day,” she said. “I finally shut down the website, but I still get calls.”

Chris Cakes is known for its pancakes made with a nifty batter squirting machine and served with sausage and orange juice. But it is mostly famous for its practice of flipping pancakes through the air for customers to catch on their plates. The chain got lots of attention years ago when it was featured on the old-school Food Network show “Unwrapped,” hosted by Marc Summers.

Xenos served, often with her husband’s help, at dozens and dozens of events and fundraisers and was a fixture at the annual Riverside Fourth of July celebration. A Kansas City crew was able to take over that event this year, Hamilton said.

Chris Cakes doesn’t just serve pancakes. It has several meal options to choose from, including a burgers-and-brats package. Some customers had booked her three years out.

Xenos said she and her husband will miss their customers. They’ll also miss doing all the events, where she went by the flipper name “Short Stack” and he went by “Half Stack.”

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she said. “But at this point, we needed to just do something else.”

Those who want to inquire about booking Chris Cakes in Wichita should visit www.chriscakes.com.

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.