Huddlehouse in Twin Lakes

Entrepreneur | WStudios21

Wichita’s first Huddle House is open for business

The new Huddle House at 21st and Amidon has one half-circle booth where diners can “huddle up.” DENISE NEIL The Wichita Eagle.

Update: The new Huddle House is now officially open as of Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Now, it is. This week, the restaurant Wichita’s first from the Huddle House chain has corporate trainers in town working with its new staff, and the restaurant should be open sometime next week, they said, though they could not pinpoint an exact date. Huddle House is kind of like IHOP in that it serves diner-style breakfast and lunch dishes, and breakfast is available anytime. Local lawyer-turned-restaurant developer Abdul Arif decided to bring the chain to Wichita with the help of his nephew, Tariq Azmi (the new owner of The Donut Whole). They’re opening a second Huddle House at Kellogg and Seneca in Wichita. Construction is underway, and the two say they hope it will be ready before spring.

Arif said he got the idea to open a breakfast restaurant in Wichita two years ago when he was driving around with his nephew late one night. They saw Mort’s in Old Town emptying out at closing time and wondered where those people could go to get a late-night breakfast.

They liked the Huddle House chain, and they pinpointed the 21st and Amidon area, which has been lacking a breakfast restaurant since Kings X closed in 2012 to make way for a new CVS Pharmacy.

Huddle House will be open 24 hours on the weekends only. It’ll open on Friday mornings and stay open until midnight on Sundays. Otherwise, the hours will be 6 a.m. to midnight daily. The overnight hours on the weekends, however, won’t start until the restaurant has been open for about a month, Azmi said.

The Twin Lakes Huddle House is a little smaller than the one planned for Kellogg and Seneca and seats 72. There’s one big half-circle booth in the back (ideal for huddling) and a mix of booths and tables throughout the rest of the dining room.

Huddle House is part of an Atlanta-based chain that started in 1964. According to Huddle House legend, founder John Sparks was trying to decide on a name for his new breakfast chain when one evening, in his restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, a group of boys came in after football practice. One of the boys had a helmet in one hand and a football in the other, and when his friends joined him, they were all leaned in and laughing together. It looked like the were “huddled up,” and Sparks decided to go with the name Huddle House. (He died in 1978, and now the chain is owned by a private firm.)

Huddle House 1 | WStudios21

This story was originally published December 6, 2018, 8:44 AM.

Huddle House 1 | WStudios21

Not one but two restaurants are going into this space near 21st and Amidon

If you frequently drive past the Twin Lakes Shopping Center near 21st and Amidon, you've probably noticed a big building going up that's way fancier than its neighbors.

In fact, the building has been slowly going up at Twin Lakes ever since April (and even briefly toppled over during a particularly strong spring storm).

Restaurant fans in the area who have been wondering what is planned for this space will be glad to hear that it will soon be home to not one but two new eateries.

On one side of the new building, which sits between Wendy's and Pizza Hut facing 21st Street, will be Wichita's first Huddle House. Local lawyer-turned-restaurant developer Abdul Arif is behind the Huddle House, which is a 24-hour diner in the vein of IHOP that specializes in breakfast. He's hoping to have it open by Sept. 15. At the moment, the nearest Huddle House to Wichita is in Emporia.

The building also will hold another Wichita Chick N Max, a concept that Max Sheets first introduced to Wichita when he opened a shop in the old Freebirds World Burrito spot at 410 N. Hillside in January. He followed up with a store at 2530 N. Greenwich in April.

Though he's signed the lease for the Twin Lakes spot and plans to go forward, Sheets is still waiting on a variance to the deed restriction that will allow him to add a drive-through, which is an important part of his plan. Once it's resolved, he'll move forward with plans and permits, he said. Sheets will likely have his third Chick N Max open at 37th and Maize before the Twin Lakes restaurant is done. Construction on the west-side store will begin in the next week or two.

Arif, who last year bought Passage to India and recently helped with the purchase of The Donut Whole, is planning another Huddle House at the northeast corner of Seneca and Kellogg. He just purchased a nearby house that will help clear the way for his development, which also will include apartments, and should be able to start planning in earnest soon.

Huddle House 2 | WStudios21

This story was originally published June 27, 2018, 4:28 PM.