Old Chicago popular new spot in town





Old might be part of it's name, but it's the new kid in town, and it's proving quite popular.

Old Chicago, 1010 Stone Creek Drive, has been open for a week now. A glance at the full parking lot will tell you it's doing pretty well for its opening week.

Molly Basham, marketing director for Samy's Spirits and Steak House, which is also owned by Amro Samy, said the restaurant served 1,000 patrons during a two-day period for its soft opening. Food was complimentary, but the drinks people purchased were collected for Heartland Heroes, raising $7,301 for the charity.

The 6,000-square-foot restaurant features pizza made from scratch and 100 different selections of beer from around the world. It's open from 11 a.m. to midnight daily. Custom fire features add to the warm atmosphere, which describes itself online as a family-oriented place to make memories.

The charitable soft-opening is a hallmark of Old Chicago restaurants across the country, and a website about the company says that giving is inherent to the restaurant chain's culture.

"Each month Old Chicago donates thousands of pounds of surplus food to local hunger organizations and hosts hundreds of monthly fundraisers to benefit local charities," the website says.

The first Old Chicago was opened by a group of friends in Denver in 1976. Their business plan was to have the best lineup of cold beer in town with great pizza in a place that treats everyone walking in the door as family.

It was that family-oriented concept that attracted Samy to the restaurant, which he has opened as part of a $25 million development going in across from Schulman's Crossing, itself a $25 million development.

"I am excited for the new addition of Old Chicago, bringing something to the community with new choices," Samy said. "We have a great team at Old Chicago, and part of that is because of the training Old Chicago Corporate provided for us, the on-site training."

Another concept Samy stresses with all of his projects is the use of local labor and contractors whenever possible.

Basham said there were about 75 construction workers at any given time working on Old Chicago, including subcontractors, and they have hired 130 individuals for various positions inside the restaurant.

In addition, they called upon local businesses to help with many of the finishing touches, which makes a definitive estimate of the total economic impact difficult to pinpoint.

"JR Audio did the televisions, Pyramid Plumbing did the plumbing — we are big believers in supporting the community and making sure we keep our money here in Garden City," Basham said.

Old Chicago is just the first phase of development at the Stone Creek location. Also coming online will be a 96-bed hotel and a 25,000 square-foot water park, with 10,000 square feet of water surface area, which will be open to the public.

An aquatics design engineer out of Kansas City has been hired to design what Samy hopes will become a destination point for a 150-mile radius surrounding Garden City. Groundwork for beginning the hotel construction starts in May, Basham said, and then the water park will follow.

The general contractor for Old Chicago, the hotel and the water project is American Warrior, which is a company owned by Samy. American Warrior also is building some apartments near Garden City High School.

Basham said all the duplexes there have been rented and almost all the homes are either sold or have contracts pending. That location had a construction crew of 100 to 150 at any given time, including subcontractors, all local.

Governor Sam Brownback is coming to town for Pioneer Estate's ribbon cutting 11 a.m. Wednesday, Basham added, because it used a state-backed program through the Kansas Housing Development Corp. He also is slated to attend the Old Chicago ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. the same day.

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