Dining With Denise Neil

New to eat at Towne East: Chick-fil-A, baked potatoes, cookie dough, Karmelcorn, gyros

Chicken and waffles are out, gyros and shawarma are in.

Karmelcorn is moving. Gladspoon is expanding.

You can get baked potatoes stuffed until they’re overflowing, and there’s a Chick-fil-A in the mall, at least for now.

Towne East Square’s food scene is always changing these days, and as it prepares to head into the holiday season, lots of new options are appearing (and some are disappearing.)

Here’s a look at the changes that have happened at the mall over the past several months and some that will happen over the next few weeks.

There’s now a pop-up Chick-fil-A operating at Towne East Square. Courtesy photo

A Chick-fil-A for shoppers: There are now several Chick-fil-A restaurants in town, but there wasn’t one in the mall until earlier this week. The franchisee of the Chick-fil-A at Central and Rock is trying out a “pop-up” on the lower level of Towne East nearest Dillard’s. It’s a portable tent staffed by employees who have hot bags full of Chick-fil-A favorites like chicken sandwiches, wraps and salads. It will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. through the end of the year.

The arrival of Athens: Alert shoppers might have noticed that Taste of Soul Chicken & Waffles, which opened in the J.C. Penny’s-facing side of the food court in December, has already closed. But it will soon be replaced by another vendor who is already familiar in Wichita. Bader Rahali, who opened Marrakech Cafe in Wichita in 2014 but sold it to friends this summer, is opening a new eatery called Athens. It will serve build-your-own wraps and bowls with Greek- and Mediterranean-style ingredients including shawarma and gyro. He’ll also sell baklava. Rahili said he hopes to be open sometime between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.

Taste of Soul Chicken and Waffles is already closed, and a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant will soon take its place in the Towne East food court. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

Karmelcorn on the move: Karmelcorn has operated in the Towne West food court for more than 20 years. But soon, it’ll move across town and take up residence in Towne East instead. Owner Keaton Schultz said that he’ll keep operating at Towne West until the end of October then will move to Towne East and open before the holidays. He’s taking over the space on the upper level just outside of Dillard’s that was recently vacated by the short lived The Green Place. Karmelcorn is known for making its caramel, cheese, cinnamon and caramel peanut popcorn fresh every day in big copper kettles, all within view of customers. They specialize in selling their treats in big gift tins but sell snack-sized bags of the stuff, too.

Gladspoon’s addition: Cliff Bragg, the owner of Milkfloat, opened his new ice cream/cookie dough restaurant at 7330 W. Maple in August. And soon, he’ll have a version of it open in the mall, too. Bragg says his new spot should be ready to go just outside the old Sears space, adjacent to the kids play area, sometime next month.

Hot Potato Bar: This vendor has been open in the mall since early summer, but if you haven’t tried it yet, fall might be the perfect time. Dima Alwanzi opened the little kiosk just outside of Charleys Philly Steaks in the main food court in June. She serves giant, hot baked potatoes that she opens up then mixes with butter, cheese, salt and pepper. After that, customers can stuff their potatoes with whatever they want, and Alwanzi has about 18 different ingredients to choose from, including a variety of veggies and sauces, meats like barbecue chicken, beef chili and grilled chicken, and unusual add-ons like macaroni salad and cole slaw. The most basic potato with just butter, cheese, salt and pepper, is $4.99. A potato with unlimited veggies is $6.49. A meat and veggie potato is $7.29, and people also can get a value meal with chips and a drink.

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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.