UPDATED — Wichita, meet the New Neighbors.
Sweet Spot owner Fei “George” Yang is opening the restaurant at the former Neighbors Bar & Grill, which closed after owner Chuck Giles was shot and killed in his driveway on July 19 following work and a trip to the grocery store.
No arrests have been made.
Yang plans to keep the home-style cooking restaurant, which is on 21st Street just west of Amidon, as it has always been.
He has not purchased Giles’ old recipes, but he has hired three of his former cooks.
Yang is working to open a similar comfort-food restaurant in McPherson next to Starlite Lanes.
The Wichita New Neighbors could reopen as early as late this month.
“It’s kind of, like, bittersweet,” says Connie Schrader, Giles’ longtime partner who also worked at the restaurant.
“I’m glad something’s going to go in there,” she says. “I hope they have success. I do.”
However, Schrader says, “It didn’t have to happen this way.”
Meaning, she says, Giles didn’t have to die.
“It still should be the original Neighbors,” Schrader says.
“We had a hell of a run. It just ended too soon.”
Giles’ daughter, Ashley Watson — who also worked at Neighbors — is emotional about the change but also wishes Yang and his new business well.
“I wish them good luck,” she says. “I hope all their customers really like it.
Like Schrader, though, Watson says she wishes things could be different.
“I wish that my dad was still alive.”