Carrie Rengers

Rookies fills the Shoeless Joe’s void

Rookies is opening in the former Shoeless Joe’s Old Fashioned Burgers & Phillys space, but general manager and co-owner Anthony Sowden is no rookie restaurateur.

In addition to an extensive restaurant background outside of Kansas, Sowden says he helped open the Jimmy’s Egg that used to be at the Shoeless space, which is in the Clear Lakes shopping center on 21st Street just west of Amidon.

Sowden, who has been in Kansas since 2010, also has worked at Ya Ya’s EuroBistro and Larkspur. He says he had good experiences at those restaurants but had frustrations at some others here and has been wanting to have his own business.

Important issues for him are cleanliness and speed.

“We’ll pump the food out … especially at lunch.”

The restaurant initially will be open for breakfast and lunch. After the holidays, it will be open for dinner as well. Sowden says he doesn’t want to open for dinner until he has a liquor license.

Sowden says a health inspector has been out to visit the restaurant, and he says she was impressed.

“She can’t believe it’s spotless,” he says. “The health inspector said she’d have to bring people into the place to see it.”

Along with some sports memorabilia that was at Shoeless Joe’s, Sowden says he and his partners have brought a lot more in. He says that “$250,000 in sports memorabilia has been put into the place.”

That includes boxing trunks signed by Muhammed Ali, training gloves and wraps signed by Jack Dempsey and a former Municipal University of Wichita football.

“It’s not like any sports bar here in Wichita,” Sowden says.

Along with traditional breakfast items, there will be a variety of sandwiches, salads, burgers, steaks and seafood.

“We’ll still have the same great Philly cheesesteak,” Sowden says of what Shoeless Joe’s was known for.

He says there will be “a lot of Spanish flair on our menu due to the neighborhood, obviously.”

Hours initially will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekends.

Look for Rookies to open on Monday.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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