Dining With Denise Neil

Air conditioning woes force downtown restaurant to make a quick move

This downtown restaurant space is about to get a new tenant.
This downtown restaurant space is about to get a new tenant. The Wichita Eagle

Air conditioning woes have forced a downtown Wichita to hastily change locations this week.

A Taste of Times Square, which is owned by Ramy Salem and his wife/cook Melissa, closed at the Petroleum Building at 221 S. Broadway last week. It will reopen soon at 217 E. Douglas, the space that’s held many restaurants over the years, most recently Pasta Piazza.

Melissa Salem said the air conditioning gave out at the building and that it was going to be several weeks before it was repaired. Temperatures soared in their dining room to 90 degrees, and it was 120 in the kitchen, she said, and food temperature control became an issue. Portable air conditioning units didn’t help.

The couple loaded the restaurant up in a U-Haul over the weekend and have been parked outside the Douglas spot all weekend. Melissa Salem said they hope to be ready to reopen in about a week.

A Taste of Times of Times Square originally opened at 13th and Grove in 2014.

The menu is filled with sandwiches, burgers, pita sandwiches and breakfast items named for New York City-area neighborhoods and landmarks. Its most popular seller, Melissa Salem said, has been the NYC Taxi Driver, an entree that features marinated halal chicken on a bed of basamati rice topped with lettuce, tomato and the restaurant’s signature yogurt sauce.

A Taste of Times Square also serves breakfast, and Melissa Salem said she plans to add more quick-service items, like crepes, to the menu. Hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The building the restaurant has taken over sits right next to the Lewis Reflection Square Park, which sits on the site of the former F.W. Woolworth dime store and holds a live-sized sculpture of a lunch counter. The restaurant space has been vacant since May 2014, when Pasta Piazza closed. Among the other restaurants that have occupied the space over the years are Holy land Mediterranean Grill, Onyx Bistro and DK Kitchen.