Carrie Rengers

Popular Old Town Square restaurant closes as owner reimagines the concept

Hana Cafe fans likely will panic when they first hear this news, but there’s no need.

The popular Old Town Square restaurant has closed, but it will reopen this fall after owner Eunice Kim is through reimagining the restaurant — including the space, the food and the experience as a whole.

“We’re inspired by the enthusiasm we see everyday downtown,” Kim said in a statement. “It’s motivated us to envision new ways to set the pace and offer new tastes and better experiences for our customers.”

The Korean and Japanese restaurant opened on the east side 23 years ago and moved downtown in 2006. Kim substantially remodeled in 2010, but her latest idea isn’t a mere remodeling.

Kim is rethinking everything.

That includes the food, though longtime favorites will remain on the menu.

Hana serves traditional Japanese sushi along with dishes from Kim’s native Korea.

She likely will add more Korean food and some Japanese-Korean fusion dishes as well.

Kim also wants to reinvigorate the interior and exterior spaces.

She even wants to address service, including possibly offering more opportunities to see dishes being prepared. Collectively, Kim wants it all to contribute to a new customer experience.

“Seasonally, it’s the perfect time to take a step back and refresh with the slower pace of the end of summer,” she said.

Also, Kim said the closure of Kanai on the west side left a bit of a space to fill in the market.

“With the closing of Kanai, there’s a little bit of a gap in the availability of high-quality sushi.”

Kim said she’ll be ready to have a soft reopening by early fall.

When she made the move downtown from the east side, Kim had to open before the interior was even finished due to customer demand.

“Every day I have 30 or 40 people call,” she said at the time, “so I can’t wait anymore.”

This time, she said, “We’re not going to make Wichita wait that long.”

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.