Taking the helm at Hurricane

Restaurant veteran Luis Lopez

Written by Joe Stumpe

Hurricane Sports Grill, the beach-themed hangout known for fun food and cold drinks, has new ownership determined to make its service just as notable.

“There are three things you’ve gotta do day in and day out: service, quality and value,” said Luis Lopez, who became a co-owner in October. “When you order a beer, it should come in two minutes, not seven minutes.”

Luis is a familiar face in Wichita’s hospitality industry, having owned Emerson Biggins and several other drinking and eating establishments over the past two decades. Now he’s bringing that background to Hurricane Sports Grill, which was started two years ago by a group of businessmen who liked eating out but were short on restaurant experience.

Luis was recruited by Jim Petrich, the only one of the original investors to remain. The two have known each other for years, starting when their sons played youth sports together, and continuing now that their grandsons are doing the same. Both also have deep roots on the city’s west side, where Hurricane is located.

“This place is unique,” Luis said of Hurricane, which also has a large patio. “I love the shrimp tacos, fish and chips, and burgers. We’ve got all the frozen drinks, like you’d have at a resort.”

Steak, seafood, wraps, sandwiches, salads and a variety of appetizers and desserts round out the menu. Hurricane’s specials include all-you-can-eat wings (in two dozen flavors) on Monday night for $15.99, half-price pints on Tuesday and $3 Coronas on Thursday. The bar offers shuttle service to Wichita State basketball games, DJs and live entertainment on a regular basis, and enough TVs to satisfy the most rabid sports fan.

Luis, a native of Venezuela known as “Big Lou” from his days as a power-hitting Wichita State baseball player, acknowledges that family tragedy played a role in his taking on the new venture at Hurricane: Six years ago this month his son, Luis Beltran Lopez III, was killed in a car accident. The younger Lopez had managed the west-side Emerson Biggins, which his family owned at the time. Understandably, the young man’s parents were crushed. Only family and friends kept them going, with daughter Erica doing much to keep the Lopez businesses running.

In a way, the chance to return to the west side and go into business with Petrich offered Big Lou a chance to reconnect and move forward at the same time.

“We’ve got to do what we do best — that is, be involved in the community,” he said. “We’ve got to carry on life and live normally.”

Hurricane Sports Grill
8641 W. 13th St. N., Suite 111
Wichita, KS 67212

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