It was early in the pandemic when Zoe’s Kitchen closed, but finally, there’s a replacement for the former Waterfront restaurant.
“Since that’s such an important location, we had to be selective about who would ultimately land there,” said Stephen Clark II of Clark Investment Group.
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, a New York-style pizza that’s known for coal-fired brick oven pizza, is coming to the building on the northwest corner of 13th and Webb Road, in front of Whole Foods Market, next spring.
“This started in Brooklyn,” Clark said. “We’re excited to be able to bring a little New York flavor to Wichita”
Randy Simon, the co-founder and former CEO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, where he’s still chairman of the board, and a former Panera Bread franchisee helped introduce the concept to the Waterfront.
“I was glad to put everybody together on that,” said Simon, who knows Grimaldi’s CEO Joe Ciolli.
“The concept is just an excellent concept,” Simon said. “It’s the kind I would enjoy associating myself with, but I’m also very content just to be a frequent user.”
Simon said that one thing that distinguishes the chain’s pizza is the fresh mozzarella cheese that sits in clumps on top of the pizza instead of being shredded.
“You can just see the whole pad of mozzarella just laying there on your pizza.”
Simon goes to Grimaldi’s restaurants in Kansas City, Dallas and Scottsdale, which is where he eats with Ciolli.
“We always make a pizza run at Grimaldi’s.”
Simon said so many Wichitans seem to long for a Cheesecake Factory, but he said Grimaldi’s makes its own cheesecakes and cannoli.
“If they want good cheesecake, they’re going to have it . . . as soon as they get this store open.”
The restaurant also serves calzones, salads and appetizers.
The Wichita Grimaldi’s will be the 43rd nationally and will feature what the chain describes as a “classic New York decor with the brand’s signature red and white checkered tablecloths, handcrafted wine bottle chandeliers, and iconic black and white still photographs of New York City.”
Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, who handles leasing at the Waterfront, represented the center in the deal.
There will be 68 seats inside and another 50 on a covered patio that has heaters and fans.
“The food, the company and its people are all very high quality,” Clark said.
“It’s a great place for families,” he said. It “should do very well there.”