Carrie Rengers

Kneaders Bakery & Cafe to open on Friday

Just as the weather is turning cooler and diners are craving more comfort food, Utah-based Kneaders Bakery & Cafe is opening its first Kansas restaurant across from Bradley Fair.

“We are a from-scratch Artisan bakery,” says CEO James Worthington.

“The interior’s really designed to make people feel warm and welcome,” he says. With a fireplace, granite tabletops and other features, Worthington says there’s a “going-home kind of feel that we’re going after.”

He’s in Wichita to help open the restaurant on Friday.

The chain, which has 59 restaurants with this one, is entering the Kansas market with plans for multiple sites. The first is at Laham Development’s property at 1821 N. Rock Road.

Kneaders will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it’s closed.

That’s partly for religious reasons but mostly because “we just want our people to have a break,” Worthington says.

Bread is a big focus at Kneaders.

“We make amazing breads,” Worthington says. “All our breads are made in the store from scratch. Yesterday, they were flour, water and salt.”

His parents, Gary and Colleen Worthington, started the business in 1997.

The dish Kneaders may best be known for, though, is James Worthington’s creation.

“We have some really amazing French toast,” he says.

It’s a dish he created during college “in an attempt to meet the girls across the street.”

“I would go over on Saturdays and make French toast in their apartments.”

Kneaders also has 42 kinds of pastries it makes daily.

The restaurant also roasts turkeys every night.

“It’s not like a cold cut that you might find somewhere else,” Worthington says. “It’s more like an after-Thanksgiving kind of turkey.”

Kneader’s also caters and has a wide array of gift baskets with its products.

“We have these amazing products, and we just thought what better way to get them out to people?” Worthington says.

The Wichita restaurant, which seats 84, has a drive-through and a patio. In addition to food, there are retail items such as aprons and some small home decor pieces for sale.

Christi Royse of J.P. Weigand & Sons handled the deal.

Worthington won’t share details yet about plans for other sites in Wichita or Kansas, but he says, “We’ve got some things in the works.”

For now, he’s concentrating on Friday’s opening.

The first 100 customers to visit will receive free French toast.

“We’ve felt very, very welcomed here,” Worthington says. “We’re excited to be a part of this community.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers