Carrie Rengers

Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. to open in January

The former Fork & Fennel space on Douglas just east of Hillside soon will be home to Dempsey’s Biscuit Co.
The former Fork & Fennel space on Douglas just east of Hillside soon will be home to Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. Eagle file photo

Dempsey’s Burger Pub owner Steve Gaudreau is ready to share his latest restaurant concept.

In October, Have You Heard? reported that a sister concept to Dempsey’s, which is in Clifton Square, will open in the former Fork & Fennel space on Douglas just east of Hillside.

Last month, Gaudreau said he wanted to make sure he can pull off the concept before giving details about it.

Now, he’s ready to talk chicken.

“We’ve had a lot of success … with our hot chicken that we run once a month,” Gaudreau says of a regular special at Dempsey’s. “So we decided to spin it off into its own restaurant.”

Dempsey’s Biscuit Co. will serve a variety of hot chicken and biscuit sandwiches.

“We’re a scratch kitchen,” Gaudreau says. “We don’t bring in frozen product. Same as Dempsey’s.”

There will be a biscuit sandwich menu, most of which will feature chicken.

“We’re going to be making our biscuits from scratch,” Gaudreau says.

There also will be a hot chicken menu with fried chicken similar to what he serves at Dempsey’s. There will be differing levels of spice on the chicken. Gaudreau says he’s still working on variations with heat, including a “crazy hot” level.

There will be house specials, too.

“The whole theme of the restaurant is really … more southern-style cooking,” Gaudreau says.

That includes grits, gumbo and etouffee along with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Wichita has just been a great market,” Gaudreau says.

Though he lives in Lawrence now, Gaudreau grew up in College Hill and says he used to go to the East Douglas building when it was a Taco Tico.

Similarly, he used to go to Clifton Square for a candy shop that was just down from his school.

“I’d ask the teacher to use the bathroom, and I’d run out to the candy store,” Gaudreau says.

“It’s fun for me to come back into town and be in the Taco Tico building,” he says. “I want to offer another style restaurant for the neighborhood.”

He says he incorporated the Dempsey’s name with the Biscuit Co. to capitalize on the restaurant’s recognition in the area.

Unlike Dempsey’s Burger Pub, the Biscuit Co. will have casual counter service with food runners who bring food to diners.

“It’s my first time to ever own a casual-counter restaurant,” Gaudreau says.

There will be 16 tables.

“With such few tables, we really need to turn really fast,” Gaudreau says.

He says “the beauty of this” is there will be half the wait time for food.

“It’s a math issue at this point,” he says. “As long as we’re busy, it makes sense to be casual-counter.”

Gaudreau has six restaurants, including ones in Kansas City, Lawrence and Topeka along with the new one, which will open in January.

“Yeah, the timing’s terrible,” Gaudreau says of opening during such a traditionally slow month for restaurants.

“I’m hoping that this will give us a little slower opening to get our legs underneath us.”

Opening has taken longer than Gaudreau planned because the deal took more time to finalize than expected, and he’s been doing updating at the building as well. He says it may be for the best, though.

“I kind of like the fact that we’re going to open on a slow month,” he says. “It … gives us that breathing room.”

If all goes well, this will not be Gaudreau’s only Biscuit Co.

“This is going to be a test store,” he says. “My goal is to obviously own several of them.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers