Carrie Rengers

Upscale sports bar planned at 37th, Rock

The almost 7,500-square-foot building at 3731 N. Rock Road has been home to several restaurants in recent years. Highlands Gastropub and Cardroom was the most recent short-lived tenant. Serengeti Grill was briefly there before that, and Black Canyon Grille had a longer existence there before that.

Now, BenchWarmers Tavern & Grill , an upscale sports bar, has a 10-year lease on the space.

"We're very serious and plan on being there a long time," says Pamela Tauman , marketing manager and department head for the Erie, Colo.-based BenchWarmers International . "It's a great spot."

Nathan Farha of Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group represented BenchWarmers in the deal.

BenchWarmers is looking for a second Wichita site but doesn't have it finalized yet.

The first BenchWarmers opened in January in Aurora, Colo., near Denver.

There are only a few of sites so far, but the company is in a huge growth mode.

After a planned opening on July 8 in Centennial, Colo., BenchWarmers plans to open a new site every other week for a year.

"They just feel very confident about their business plan and about the model we have in place," Tauman says. "Since they have the funds to make it happen at that rate, they're just ready to go.

"They're very eager to make their mark."

CEO Kevin Foote is an executive chef, and that helps set BenchWarmers apart, Tauman says.

She says there are "just some little touches that make it better than what you're normally going to find at a sports bar, and we're very proud of that."

That includes roast beef that's carved only once it's ordered, a variety of flatbread pizzas and an expansive selection of appetizers, including all kinds of sliders.

"We pride ourselves on our food," Tauman says. "It truly sets us apart."

She says the atmosphere is upscale as well, with a lot of 50-inch HD televisions.

"Our goal is to have everybody in the restaurant have a clear shot of a TV, so it's fantastic viewing," Tauman says.

In fact, the ability to enjoy a game in a comfortable environment is what prompted Foote to start the chain.

He was at a Colorado Avalanche game with some friends when they overheard people complaining about how cold they were and how it actually would be better to watch the game someplace they could be more comfortable with good food and beautiful women to serve them.

The result? Think Hooters girls in barely-there referee uniforms.

Look for BenchWarmers to open in mid-November or December at the latest.

Financial deal

Not all the furniture is in, and all the signs aren't up yet, but Gary Tomes' Farm Bureau Financial Services office relocated Monday from Webb Road to the Equity Financial Center at 7701 E. Kellogg.

The almost 3,000-square-foot space will include Tomes' office and a team center for new agents.

"It's basically designed for new agents to come on board," Tomes says of the center.

He says it offers them an affordable office, training and a support staff.

Tomes opened his office about a year ago and moved into temporary space at 3351 N. Webb Road.

He's been looking for new space for several months, and then the deal came together very quickly recently.

Nathan Farha handled this deal as well.

Tomes likes the building's location and the fact that his office is on the first floor.

Now, he's just got to finish getting it ready while also handling day-to-day business.

"We've got a few obstacles to overcome."

Special news

When Pho Hot on Pawnee near the Canal Route closes this month, a new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Special will open in its place.

This is owner Dung Nguyen's first restaurant.

Nguyen is not related Danny Nguyen , the owner of Pho Hot, who will continue to operate his Pho Hot Bistro on North Rock Road.

Dung Nguyen plans to serve pho, a noodle soup, along with other traditional Vietnamese dishes.

The new restaurant will open June 23.