Downtown's new destination

Written by Joe Stumpe

A whirlwind. Intense. And a lot of fun. That's how Alicia Gregg describes managing Walkers Bar & Venue and Jettys Pizza, the biggest restaurant/bar to open in downtown Wichita in memory.

"Half the time I don't even know what day it is," Gregg said.

That's an exaggeration, of course, but a little disorientation would be natural for anyone running side-by-side establishments with a combined capacity of 450 people.

Especially two places with as distinct personalities as these. Jettys is a beach-themed, family-friendly pizza place with huge specialty pies and a big loft.

Walkers, on the other hand, is a classic watering hole with lots of exposed brick and ceiling beams dating back to its construction in 1908. Drink specials, live music and waitresses that Gregg says "everyone falls in love with" make for a festive atmosphere.

The two are connected by a walk-through,with the Jettys kitchen also supplying Walkers customers with appetizers and entrees.

Located across the street from Intrust Bank Arena, Walkers/Jetty's is the first drinking and dining establishment to launch in what city boosters have long hoped would develop into bustling entertainment district, similar to Old Town across the Missouri Pacific railroad tracks.

"The arena's events are great for us, but we are also attracting a crowd of people who normally don't come downtown to bars," Gregg said. "We've definitely already made an impression. Plus, all the media attention has been awesome. It's kind of made us the new 'it' bar."

Of course, Wichitans are known for converging on any place that's new. To keep their interest, Gregg is promising service second to none. One difference-maker, she said, is a menu of upscale cocktails with names like the Snickerdoodle, Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, Banana Split and Slip Me a Mickey (the last a tribute to principal owner Mickey Lynch). There are plenty of specials for the beer-and-shot crowd as well, and Gregg and her bartenders are constantly coming up with new ones.

"That's the cool thing about being in charge, because I love creating unique drinks and shots," she said.

Walkers presents live music four nights a week, ranging from jazz and singer-songwriters on Wednesday and Thursday to full bands that pack in dancers on the weekends.

So far, the biggest challenges have been logistical. Gregg said people "are getting wise" to the fact that practically unlimited parking is available at the arena on days when there is no event there. There's more on nearby streets, no further away than Old Town's parking garages are from its attractions.

Plenty of people had figured that out on a recent Saturday. Jetty's filled up as soon as a comedy show at the arena finished, and Walkers did the same as people packed in before, during and after a Wichita State Shockers basketball game. "Whoosh full with a line out the door until eleven," Gregg said.

Walkers Bar & Venue/Jetty's Pizza | 220 S. Commerce | Walkers: 316.260.9988 | Jettys: 316.250.5998

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