Dining With Denise Neil

Restaurant group’s plans for Augustino Brewing, Sweet Basil, Margarita’s are all off

A restaurant management company that had announced plans to take over a string of longtime Wichita restaurants is no longer involved in most of those deals.

Velocity Hospitality Group, which includes former Fetch Bistro owner Greg Buss and restaurant consultant Tony Sawyer, will not open a second Augustino Brewing Company in the space at where Fetch Bistro closed in April. In May, the partners had announced plans to open the second Augustino and to take over food service at the original west-side Augustino at 756 N. Tyler.

Also, plans for a new Italian restaurant in the former Sweet Basil space that the company announced in April appear to be off. Both the Sweet Basil spot at 2424 N. Woodlawn and the former Fetch space at 7718 E. 37th St. North have for-rent signs in the windows and are available for lease. (Sweet Basil closed in April after 28 years in business.)

The longtime Sweet Basil space is for lease. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

And at Margarita’s Cantina, where in March longtime owner Don Overstake said he’d agreed to partner with Velocity Hospitality Group and to turn over to them the remodeling and day-to-day operation of the 27-year-old restaurant, the deal is off, too. Overstake said things went downhill quickly after he made the deal and he returned from vacation to find things in disarray. He ended the partnership.

Overstake said he’s now hoping to find someone else to either buy or take over running the restaurant.

When contacted by phone, Sawyer said that regarding Augustino, “It wasn’t a good deal. It just wasn’t the right fit.”

He said he didn’t have any comment on the Margarita’s deal and said he was unsure about plans for the Sweet Basil space. Buss did not return calls seeking comment.

The duo is still running the Fetch Bar & Grill in Moundridge.

Buss originally opened Fetch Bistro, a dog-friendly restaurant, in 2016. Last summer, the restaurant appeared on an episode of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant makeover show “24 Hours to Hell and Back,” but by December, Buss said he was undoing some of the changes and had partnered with Sawyer, who he identified as a restaurant consultant from Fort Worth.

The two opened a Fetch in Moundridge in February but closed the Wichita Fetch in April, about a month after they’d announced plans to take over management of Margarita’s.

Margarita’s Cantina owner Don Overstake said he terminated a deal with Velocity Hospitality Group to take over operation of his restaurant. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

Augustine Iacopelli, who owns the west-side Augustino, said his plan for now is to continue forward on his own, serving his beer and a limited pub menu at his original location. An east-side Augustino isn’t out of the question in the future, he said.

“We’re continuing as we had before and gradually adding to a food menu while making our key focus on beer,” he said.

The Fetch space at the Sweet Basil space are available to rent through Caro Development.

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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.