Emerson Biggins in west Wichita applies to become nightclub

Emerson Biggins, a restaurant and bar at 21st and Maize, is seeking approval to operate as a nightclub, offering a DJ, dancing and music.

Emerson Biggins, a restaurant and bar at 21st and Maize, is seeking approval to operate as a nightclub, offering a DJ, dancing and music.

The Wichita Eagle

One of Wichita’s most popular west-side restaurant bars is planning to break into the nightclub scene.

Emerson Biggins Sports Bar & Grill at 21st and Maize was recently remodeled with a more open-floor layout, making room for a dance floor and stage for local bands and DJs. Now, it’s applying for a zoning change to operate as a nightclub and a license to operate as an entertainment establishment.

Sharon Dopps, general partner of the west Emerson Biggins, said the restaurant will continue to function primarily as a sports bar when college or professional sports are on television.

“But our hopes are to have a DJ and some small bands in here when sports aren’t on,” Dopps said. “When sports are on, obviously, we’re a sports bar. Sports will come first.”

Dopps said Emerson Biggins is looking into starting up “Wild West Wednesdays” — a mix of “a little bit of hip hop and a little bit of country” music and dancing — and more of a club scene Thursdays through Sundays.

“We want to take our clientele that’s already coming out and give them a reason to stay and enjoy themselves longer,” Dopps said. “Several years ago, some of our regulars have said, ‘I love coming to Biggins, this is my home bar, it’s like Cheers, everybody knows my name. But it’s kind of like the same old thing, you see the same people and you just like sit there if sports aren’t on TV and get to sit there and talk to people, but there’s not a whole lot to do.’

“So I took that and kind of ran with it,” Dopps said. “And so now we knocked down the walls to our pool room, so you can see into the restaurant, towards the dance floor area. We have an arcade where people can play and hang out. We’ve really been looking to give people a reason not to leave.”

The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved the zoning change last week, but it is still winding its way through the approval process. The District 5 advisory board approved the zoning change Monday night and it could receive approval from the City Council later this month.

Emerson Biggins is also applying for an entertainment license.

The nightclub designation and an entertainment license would allow the restaurant and drinking establishment to provide a DJ, dancing and live music.

“The next step is just getting that entertainment license and the city seeing how we’re going to handle security, what we would do if there was an altercation or how we’re going to deal with making sure that minors aren’t drinking — stuff like that,” Dopps said.

This story was originally published June 7, 2022 10:59 AM.

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Chance Swaim covers investigations for The Wichita Eagle. His work has been recognized with national and local awards, including a George Polk Award for political reporting, a Betty Gage Holland Award for investigative reporting and a Victor Murdock Award for journalistic excellence. Most recently, he was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. You may contact him at cswaim@wichitaeagle.com or follow him on Twitter @byChanceSwaim.

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