Carrie Rengers

Sasnak Management plans two new east-side restaurants in 2018

One of the new Carlos O’Kelly’s prototypes is this one in Iowa City, Iowa. It features a high ceiling and lots of openness that Sasnak Management president Jon Rolph says leads to more energy in the restaurant.
One of the new Carlos O’Kelly’s prototypes is this one in Iowa City, Iowa. It features a high ceiling and lots of openness that Sasnak Management president Jon Rolph says leads to more energy in the restaurant. Courtesy photo

It’s not exactly his New Year’s resolution because he’s already hard at work on it now, but Sasnak Management president Jon Rolph is going to show the east side of Wichita some serious attention in 2018.

“It’s going to be the biggest year for our company in east Wichita since 1987,” he says.

Plans include combining the north and east Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants “into this new megalocation” that features the chain’s latest prototype.

“It’s unlike any Carlos you’ve ever seen,” Rolph says.

Also, Sasnak will open its second HomeGrown breakfast concept, or “daytime eatery” as its tagline says. The first debuted at NewMarket North in May.

There’s a chance HomeGrown could replace Sasnak’s Good Egg in Bradley Fair or locate elsewhere.

FILE VIDEO -- Sasnak Management president Jon Rolph shows off the company's new breakfast concept, HomeGrown, at NewMarket North. (Carrie Rengers/The Wichita Eagle/May 23, 2017)

Rolph is still finalizing details on both new restaurants. However, in anticipation of the consolidation, the Carlos O’Kelly’s by Towne East Square will close after business Oct. 22.

“The lease is driving most of the timing,” he says. “Ideally we were going to try to do it all at the same time.”

He says all employees will be offered jobs at Sasnak’s other restaurants.

“We’re trying to keep as many of them together as we can.”

The Carlos O’Kelly’s near 29th and Rock Road will continue to operate until the new one is ready.

The new prototype already exists in Manhattan and two cities in Iowa.

“We’ve been working at refining it,” Rolph says.

With each new opening, he says, “We’ve been tweaking it every time.”

There are higher ceilings and more open spaces.

“They way it’s designed, you’re seeing more people, you’re feeling more energy,” Rolph says.

“It’s a much more modern look.”

There’s also an open kitchen, “which is a big difference,” he says.

“To me, they’re beautiful. They’re modern. They’re an exciting place to get to and be.”

Rolph says the design is something that will last.

“When you make these kinds of capital investments, they need to work for a long time.”

He won’t say what he’s spending yet, but Rolph says, “They’re sizable, sizable investments.”

Last year, he spent $450,000 to update the Carlos O’Kelly’s on South Ridge Road with some of the new prototype’s features.

“It’s got a lot of the elements.”

Jon Rolph, President of Sasnak Management, explains how the west-side Carlos O'Kelly's has been remodeled. (Carrie Rengers/The Wichita Eagle/Jan. 9, 2017)

He plans to remodel the Carlos O’Kelly’s near 47th and Broadway in 2019.

As Rolph finalizes details on the new Carlos O’Kelly’s site, he’s also trying to figure out where the east-side HomeGrown will open.

“Everybody’s assuming it’s going to be the Good Egg.”

There is a chance it could be there.

“We’re trying hard because we love that location,” Rolph says.

“We’re really working on the design, if we use that space how we’d transform it,” he says. “But we’re not sure we can get the look we want.”

If HomeGrown goes someplace other than Bradley Fair, he’ll keep the Good Egg “as long as that lease is going and that business is going.”

Sasnak’s headquarters is on the east side near 21st and Rock Road, which is another reason Rolph says he’s excited to turn his attention there.

It was on the east side near Towne East where the first Carlos O’Kelly’s opened in 1987. That restaurant eventually had to move due to Kellogg construction, and it became the site that’s now closing in anticipation of consolidation.

Rolph can’t say how quickly either of the new restaurants will happen except that they’ll be in 2018.

“I’d love to have them both up and going as soon as possible.”

He says finalizing deals is an exercise in patience.

When everything is done next year, there will be three Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants: the west and south sites and the new, consolidated east site.

Rolph says he can’t wait to show off the prototype.

“This is our hometown,” he says. “We’ve been really excited to bring it to Wichita.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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