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Landmark Real Estate News

WaterWalk may corral eatery

Tuesday, August 15 2006 12:00 AM
The Saddle Ranch Chop House could soon be coming to the corridor, developers say

WaterWalk in downtown Wichita is close to signing its first destination restaurant, Saddle Ranch Chop House.
The restaurant is the first in a series of high-profile entertainment restaurants that WaterWalk officials hope to sign. They say it's just another sign that the project is taking off.
WaterWalk developers expect to sign the lease by the end of the week, president Tom Johnson said.
Saddle Ranch, based in Los Angeles, is a steak place but has a varied menu, including s'mores for dessert. It includes dancing, plentiful video screens and boot-shaped shot glasses. And while it might be western, it's not really country.
A "high-energy rock western chop house," is how official Ashley Casillas described it Monday.
Saddle Ranch may be best known for its mechanical bull, which has made appearances on "Desperate Housewives," "American Idol," "Sex and the City" and other television shows, the company said.
"It's just a place you don't want to leave," said broker Brad Saville of Lnadmark Commercial Real Estate. "You plan to go to dinner and the the movies, but there's so much to do there you wind up canceling your plans for the rest of the night."
The company has three restaurants, including one that recently opened near the Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County, and others under development.  The first two Saddle Ranches are on the Sunset Strip and at Universal City in the Los Angeles area.
Johnson said Saddle Ranch fulfilled the development's requirement of being fun, broadly appealing and unique.
"It's not your typical sit-down restaurant," he said.
The key to bringing people downtown is the entertainment, say the developers, and Saddle Ranch has plenty of that.
Saville, who is working to bring in restaurant and retail tenants, is talking with three other major entertainment restaurants and a number of non-destination restaurants and unusual retailers.
WaterWalk's developers are counting on Saddle Ranch and the other destination restaurants to pull people into the development to eat, shop and perhaps even work.
"The project can't survive with just one," Johnson said. "You've got to have a critical mass."
Saddle Ranch is part of an acceleration of activity at WaterWalk. Now that the city has begun its reconstruction of streets and utilities through the project, the developers can start building.
Work will begin this fall on the development's largest building, a condiminium building with retail and parking, and the adjacent amphitheater. Construction will start on the Board of Realtors building after that.
All of that construction will allow Saville and other agents to sell the development more successfully, Johnson said.
"We hope to see a lot of stuff come together a lot quicker than it has," Johnson said.

Dan Voorhis
The Wichita Eagle

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