Just about every restaurant seems to take longer than planned to open, and it’s the same for 6S, Brandon Steven’s new high-end steakhouse on the west side.
There is one chief difference, though.
“I don’t care,” Steven says. “I just literally took my time on this project.”
He’s transforming the one-time Players space at 6200 W. 21st St. across from Sedgwick County Park.
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The methodical pace is a switch for the self-described “full-court press with everything I do” car dealer and poker player whose go-to speed for himself and employees is “fast, fast, fast.”
He has deliberated over decisions such as selecting black terrazzo for the entryway that will lead to white terrazzo in the main dining area. Steven chose the cedar that will top the patio roof overlooking the lake that drew him to the property.
He has gone as far as installing a new ceiling only to change his mind in favor of taking it out to drape one room in a sea of chandeliers.
“It’s going to be like you’ve never seen before in Kansas, and people will walk in and be absolutely wowed,” Steven says. “And that was my goal: to be absolutely wowed.”
The restaurant also may have the distinction of being the first one on the west side to regularly lure diners from the east side.
Steven has long been a west-sider who has driven east when he wants finer dining, but he says he wants something in his own backyard. This restaurant almost is: The lake behind it connects to Steven’s own lake that he and some of his extended family live on.
“I think west-siders are going to take pride in having the … nicest steak restaurant in Wichita right here on the west side.”
He says, “That’s one of my favorite things to do is to have a nice two-hour meal at a steak restaurant.”
Steven says he kept hoping someone else would open what he wanted.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to.”
He’d like to open 6S in September.
“October’s looking more realistic,” he says. “We’re not going to rush it, so if it’s November, I don’t care.”
He says he has already spent twice what he planned.
“Whoops,” he says. “That’s all I can say is, ‘Whoops.’ ”
Steven says he spent $600,000 on the kitchen alone instead of following his plan to save what had been there.
“I just want everything perfect.”
He won’t give his total budget.
Steven says he had planned to save several things in the 9,100-square-foot building but ended up pretty much using only the bricks of the shell.
“When I came in here after we scrapped everything, I looked up and it was nothing but sand. … I was just like, ‘Wow, it would have been cheaper to tear down the building.’
“But I’ve gotten exactly what I’ve wanted out of what we have here.”
Instead of the old-timey advertisements that used to be painted on the exterior of the building, there’s now a sleek gunmetal finish with metal accents.
Inside, the 200-seat restaurant will be divided into seven seating areas.
The Chandelier Room will be the main dining area to the left of the entrance.
Wine walls and cabinets will flank the space, and several of what Steven calls “Hollywood booths” will overlook it along the south wall.
Along the west wall, there will be three booths that will offer private seating for up to six people, drapes to enclose the spaces and antique phones from his grandparents’ estate for when diners want to summon their waiters.
The more businesslike Board Room, which will offer various configurations and lots of audiovisual options, will sit in the southwest corner for corporate functions.
“This room is going to be pretty slick,” says Steven, who says he’s disappointed with most current restaurant meeting options.
The Joe and Esther room, named for Steven’s late paternal grandparents, and the Kansas Room are two private dining areas along the north end of 6S that will overlook the lake.
A photo of Steven’s grandparents – “Two of the greatest people I will ever know” – will grace their room along with their former chandelier and a number of their antiques.
The patio along part of the back of the restaurant is “going to be a sight,” says Steven, who is modeling it after the one at his house.
A large bar area along the east side of the restaurant will have a grill room with a shorter menu and late-night dining. That’s also where a side entrance for the Flying Kitchen is, which will be a take-out service with delivery to diners’ cars.
At the front of the restaurant, there will be a meat locker to greet guests who can eye their dinner selections on the way in.
Steven, who travels a lot, says there are about 30 other restaurants that have been his inspiration for 6S.
“I’ve taken 1,000 pictures,” he says of what he’s found. “Putting all that together has been challenging.”
Helping him is the “very, very detailed” Nyman Group, a restaurant management and consulting group with offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., Las Vegas and New York that is known for clients such as the Venetian Las Vegas, Saks Fifth Avenue and Wolfgang Puck Food Co.
“I’m a pretty picky person, but these guys are over-the-top picky,” Steven says.
Initially, 6S will be open mainly for dinner along with maybe a Friday lunch and a Sunday brunch.
Steven says menu prices aren’t set yet, but he says they’ll be commensurate with those at other high-end steakhouses. He says wine will be a big focus.
A lot of people, including Steven’s brother and business partner Rodney, tried talking him into a franchise instead.
“That’s not what I wanted. I wanted it to be more family style.”
Family is part of his inspiration behind the 6S name.
He and Rodney Steven both have six children. Their brother, Johnny, and their parents each have six people in their families.
The “S” also stands for “success,” but not the kind a lot of people might think, Steven says.
“What’s the key to success today? It’s not about wealth or status, which a lot of people would assume (is) what I … consider to be success, but it’s not. It’s about the experiences that make you happy.”
Once construction is done, Steven says he “absolutely” will walk away from 6S except for when he returns for dinner.
“I want to be a customer. … That’s why I’m doing this.”