Many people would say that Wichita is nothing if not a "foodie city" with seemingly endless dining options. One relatively new option is Lola's Bistro, tucked inside The Collective retail development at 21st and K-96. The restaurant, which was included in Dining with Denise Neil's recent "List of 10 Hidden Wichita Restaurants That are Worth Searching Out," serves what owner Michael Abay describes as New American cuisine. The menu includes items like crispy lumpia, seared duck breast, and banana leaf halibut, and our visit left our mouths watering for more.
Abay is also the restaurant's chef and developed a love of cooking early on in his life by learning from his mother and grandmother ('lola' means 'grandmother' in the Filipino language). He was trained at the New England Culinary Institute and is a familiar face in the Wichita restaurant scene, having worked at the Olive Tree Bistro, Tallgrass Country Club, and at the Kansas Spine & Specialty Hospital before opening Lola's Bistro in October 2017. Learn more about this hidden gem in this Member Minute profile.
Please tell us a bit about your business.
Lola’s Bistro is a locally owned restaurant that has been serving New American cuisine since we opened in October of 2017. Our 12 employees offer our guests upscale food and service in a relaxed atmosphere. Our menu features dishes with French, Italian and Asian influences, including several recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother.
To what do you attribute your success?
Personally, I can attribute success to the upbringing I received from my parents. They taught me to be respectful and considerate of others.
At the restaurant, it’s all about my wonderful staff. We are a small team but they work so hard at what we do. Each day before we open, we sit down together for “family meal.” I think this builds comradery between the front and back of the house and allows us to best serve our guests, many of whom we also consider family.
Why did you join the Chamber and what do you find most valuable about Chamber membership?
We joined the Chamber to become part of the Wichita business community. I wanted to network with and learn from more established business leaders.
What is the best thing about working with businesses in the Wichita area?
I have loved seeing the new pride that Wichita has in Wichita.
Describe a recent win.
We’re a young business, so every successful event feels like a win. This Valentine’s Day, we served 99 reservations, which was an increase from 75 in 2018. That uptick felt like a win for our whole team.
Do you have new feature that might interest our members?
We are now serving Sunday Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We invite you to join us for brunch soon!
We also have a back room that seats 24 people. It can be reserved for corporate or personal usage.
What is something people may not know about you or your organization?
That we’re here! We don’t have a huge marketing budget, so we rely on the Chamber, Visit Wichita, social media, word of mouth, and our regulars who bring their friends to spread the word about the restaurant.
Where do you see your organization in five years?
My goal is to have continued growth in this location. I want to lay a solid foundation and keep offering Wichita a different style of cuisine. Eventually, I’d like to begin offering lunch hours, catering services and to install a patio. But for now we’re focusing on the foundation.
What about your organization are you most passionate?
My staff – the food is secondary. You can have the best food in town, but bad service can derail the entire experience.
Favorite business app (and why)?
I use Instagram for marketing, since our product is so visually appealing. And we use Open Table to accept reservations in a seamless manner.