UPDATED – Abdul Arif, the man who has to be the busiest combination lawyer and restaurateur in Wichita, is at it again.
In addition to opening at least one Huddle House in Wichita, he’s also working on a deal to buy the former Granite City building at NewMarket Square, the center at 21st and Maize Road where he already owns Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria.
“The old owners have accepted the contract, and we’re in the due diligence period,” Arif says.
“Basically, it’s a sports bar and grill with, ah, skimpy uniforms,” Arif says. “We’re still searching for the right name to put on there.”
Shocker Knockers is one idea.
“That seems to be real popular, but the whole idea is to be very subtle,” Arif says.
After getting some instant online feedback Tuesday morning after Have You Heard? reported his possible plans, Arif has one thing to add.
“This was just a joke,” he says of the name. “It got the intended reaction.”
Arif had looked at bringing a Wild Pitch Sports Bar & Grill franchise to Wichita but decided against it.
“The advantage to us was just a little bit marginal,” he says. That name “doesn’t really mean anything to Wichita.”
Arif says his main focus is to make his concept local and not too obvious.
“Of course, Twin Peaks makes no bones about what it is,” he says. “We don’t want to be so overt.”
That’s because Arif thinks the younger generation wouldn’t like it.
“The millennials obviously are much more sensitive to sexual nuances than my generation,” he says. “The millennials are much more sophisticated. They would be repelled by a very overt message.”
So why even do a concept like that?
“There’s a market for it,” Arif says. “The restaurant concept is going wild.”
He says concepts such as Granite City and TGI Fridays are “so old and dated. There’s no growth in that segment.”
“In the end of the day, everybody likes to look at pretty girls and drink beer.”
And what about women?
Arif says there are places that appeal more to women with buff young men as servers.
“I just don’t think Wichita’s ready for something like that, or there’s not enough segment here maybe,” Arif says. “Of course, we don’t want to be partial, but I just don’t know yet if I’m brave enough to do something like that.”
Arif is about to start a Facebook contest that runs through almost mid-January to name the restaurant.
Some of the choices include Busted Bourbons, Perky Jugs and Double Trouble, each with the tagline Local Brews with Views.
The contest winner will receive $1,000 and free beer for two for a year.
Shocker Knockers is on the voting list, but Arif stresses that it isn’t actually his choice.
“I don’t want to take on Wichita State.”
He thinks Cheers Taphouse would be more resonant.
“That kind of captures the essence of it.”
Arif says he wants women and children to be comfortable coming to the business.
“Otherwise, it would look like a strip club, and we don’t want that.”
A second site on the east side is a possibility, such as at K-96 and Greenwich or even in the vacant former Granite City space at 21st and Webb Road.
“We don’t want to limit ourselves to just Granite City,” Arif says.
Still, those former restaurants, which closed this fall, have beer tanks that Arif says would be ideal to hold a lot of beer.
“We’re talking to a bunch of local breweries.”
The “we” includes partners Nick Nichols, Kyle Hughes, Emmanuel Kolluri and a female silent partner.
“This is a very well-funded, well-organized thing,” Arif says. “And we’re going to hopefully go regional in the next few years.”
Look for results of the naming contest by Jan. 15.
A look at 10 of the Wichita restaurants that closed in 2017.