Favorite south Wichita diner, closed for updates for weeks, is finally ready to reopen

·2 min read

Fans of Fat Ernie’s, the longtime family diner at 2806 S. Hydraulic, have been missing their favorite restaurant.

It’s been closed for remodeling for nearly a month, and although owner James Fincher tried to reopen it late last week, a drain collapsed in the kitchen and he had to close up shop again after only two days.

Now, Fincher said, he’s finally ready to reopen Fat Ernie’s for real. The restaurant, which has operated for 22 years, will be back in business on Friday morning.

“We’re ready to get open, and all of our employees are dying to get back to work,” he said.

Hours will return to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Fat Ernie’s is closed on Sundays for now because of staffing but Fincher hopes to resume Sunday hours soon, he said.

Fat Ernie’s at 2806 S. Hydraulic will reopen on Thursday.
Fat Ernie’s at 2806 S. Hydraulic will reopen on Thursday.

Fincher closed the restaurant earlier this month for some upgrades, which included expanding the kitchen, adding storage in the back, replacing the booths and putting down new carpet on the restaurant’s north side.

Originally, the work was supposed to take only a week, but crews ran into problems and it dragged on. Fans of Fat Ernie’s home cooking and homemade pies have been going through withdrawals.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” Fincher said. “When they see our vehicles pull in, people swarm the place.”

Fincher’s father, Ernie Fincher, opened Fat Ernie’s in 2000 and ran it until he died in 2019. James Fincher then took over.

The diner, known for its breakfast, fried chicken, catfish, burgers, pies and blue plate specials, was in need of some TLC, Fincher said.

“We’ve been trying to update it,” he said. “It’s been a while, and we had some extra money saved up.”