Carrie Rengers

For at least one day, new Church’s Chicken owner proves everyone wrong

Church’s Chicken finally opens at 13th and Oliver

(FILE VIDEO -- NOVEMBER 2018) The much-anticipated Church's Chicken is finally open at 13th and Oliver.
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(FILE VIDEO -- NOVEMBER 2018) The much-anticipated Church's Chicken is finally open at 13th and Oliver.

It looks like Mike Jizzini gets to say, “I told you so.”

Jizzini is a new Church’s Chicken franchisee, and he wanted to choose 13th and Oliver for his first one, but he says everyone told him not to do it.

His brother and business partner told him to pick somewhere else.

The Church’s Chicken corporate office said it would be much better to locate near other restaurants elsewhere in the city.

Even his friends told Jizzini he could do better.

He says he believes in the area, though. He notes that there aren’t a lot of other restaurants and businesses.

“There’s nothing here,” Jizzini says.

The QuikTrip and Wal-Mart at the intersection closed in 2016.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s opening, hungry potential diners kept stopping by wanting food.

“I can smell it,” one person said. “You can’t hide it from me.”

The chain used to be in Wichita, but all of its restaurants closed in 2015.

The new Church’s was slammed immediately upon opening Tuesday.

Cars at the drive-through backed up throughout the parking lots at the Providence Square development at the northwest corner. At times, cars backed up onto 13th Street. Customers waited more than an hour for food.

Five hours later, the lines were just as long.

Inside the restaurant was standing room only, with lines for food snaking around tables.

Many people took off work to get to Church’s when it opened.

One person drove two hours from Great Bend just to eat there.

The Great Bend diner says Church’s biscuits are her favorite, and even Jizzini says he can’t believe how good they are.

“It blew my mind.”

Some people came for the chicken, but many people said it was the fried okra and Bombers — fried jalapenos and cheese — that drew them.

Jizzini says he was chastised by a number of people even before the restaurant opened for not having corn nuggets on the menu. He says he didn’t know they were an option but will rectify the oversight within a month or so.

He says he wants to be responsive to requests.

Jizzini also says he loves that half of his staff live so close to the restaurant that they walk or ride their bikes there.

He’s already working on his second Church’s at Pawnee and Broadway, but it’s the 13th and Oliver site that Jizzini is particularly invested in.

“I really think this neighborhood will support us.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com.
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