With what he says is a great deal of ambivalence, Melad Stephan is going to close his Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square after business on Dec. 23.
“You build something … for 10 years … it’s hard to let go, but you know, I was ready to go,” he says.
The closure is not unexpected. In early November, Have You Heard? reported that The Wichita Eagle is close to a deal with developers Dave Burk, Dave Wells and Brandon Steven to move from 825 E. Douglas into remodeled space where Oeno and Associated Integrated Marketing currently are, which is in the same building as CityArts.
Associated is moving to space next to Old Chicago, which is in a building south of Associated’s current office.
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Earlier this year, Burk, Wells and Steven purchased The Eagle’s building and plan to demolish it next year to build a new campus for Cargill.
Neither the developers nor anyone with The Eagle have an update on the Old Town Square deal, but Stephan says he was told he would have to be out of his space by the end of the month.
“There’s no hard feeling,” he says. “They made it right for me.”
When Stephan opened the business at 300 N. Mead in October 2006, Oeno received a lot of attention for its big-city feel, comfortable furniture and hip vibe. It was a place to stop in before or after going to other evening events.
“Oeno has changed a lot over the years,” Stephan says.
He says it became more of a late-night business.
“It’s not my cup of tea.”
With any bar, he says, “You have to revamp yourself every four or five or six years.”
Oeno started with 4,500 square feet and now has 12,000 square feet. That includes the Champagne Room, which is a room for private parties, and extra storage space that Stephan acquired from Associated. He says he toyed with turning it into an event center. That project was on hold when Stephan first learned The Eagle might want his space.
He says he’s been talking with Burk about possibly opening Oeno or another business elsewhere in Old Town.
“He’s trying to get me to go to a couple of spots,” Stephan says.
He says there’s a 50-50 chance it will happen.
Stephan is throwing a party for Oeno’s farewell the night of Dec. 23.
He says he’s been told construction for The Eagle will start at the first of the year.
Stephan, who owns Sabor Latin Bar & Grille on the other side of Old Town Square, says he’s struggling to find the right way to describe how he’s feeling about closing Oeno.
“You know, I’m OK with it,” he says. “It is what it is.”