There’s a new kiosk at Towne East Square. It’s called Hot Potato Bar. But you’ve probably never heard of it unless you’ve randomly popped by the mall because Towne East Square has not made a single mention about them on any of their social media pages despite having a combined reach of over 15,000 followers.
Every time I go to the mall, I’m always interested to see what new little food places are there and came across them.
7700 E Kellogg Dr
Wichita, KS 67207
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm
The concept is simple. Here’s how they described it:
Come and enjoy Hot Potato Bars signature hot oven baked potatoes with your choice from a variety of toppings. We serve only the highest quality potatoes, prepared in a clean environment in the best and friendliest manner. Some of our toppings include freshly cut vegetables, special salads, pasta and even something for all the meat lovers out there. Our goal is to provide the absolute best experience for our customers through our passion to serve.
First you started off with what you wanted. A plain potato ran $4.99. You could order a veggie potato for $6.49 with unlimited veggie toppings. Potatoes with one choice of meat were $7.29 but also included unlimited veggie toppings. The meal deal was an additional $2 and came with bagged chips and a bottled drink.
I decided to go with the meat option since I’m a carnivore. The meat options were bbq, bacon, chicken so I opted for BBQ. Chili would be a great addition if they wanted to expand the offering. There were plenty of veggies to choose from so I added in everything except for black olives. There was also an assortment of sauces you could add like ranch dressing, bbq sauce, hot sauce, sriracha, etc.
Here was the end result. It was a big warm hot potato just as the name suggested. I loved it but I also loved baked potatoes in general. The macaroni salad on top and the bbq stuffed inside made it even better. It wasn’t too heavy of a meal but for as large as a potato as it was, it wasn’t too filling.
I spoke to the owner for a little bit and they’ve been open for a little over two weeks. They are a local family here that wanted to start a business.
I started to feel really bad because I’m just not sure how many people will want to pay a $5-8 for a baked potato even when they can load it up with veggies. I know it’s a common price around town. But I think that price tag works when there’s more meat on it like some other BBQ restaurants in town where there are other options for food available and not strictly potatoes. While I enjoyed partly due to my love of baked potatoes, it could be a reach for the market here. I think for the most part there are two subsets of diners in Wichita. One group who is very tight with their money and cannot stand to eat food they could easily make themselves; they are very choosy when dining out and that’s totally fine. Then there is another group who will spend whatever as long as it’s extremely good and worthwhile. I’m not sure traveling to a mall to get a baked potato is worthwhile though. This place will likely survive only on the traffic of the mall. And please don’t get me wrong, I want them to do well.
Then on top of that, they don’t seem to get much support from Simon Mall Properties in getting the word out. You would think that paying rent and opening up a business in a mall, you’d get some level of support. I see places like Occidental Management help market and support their tenants. That doesn’t seem to be the case for the restaurants at Towne East. The last food post on their Facebook page was back in April 1 for The Green Place which I believe has since closed down (don’t quote me on that though). Mall businesses are tough enough as is so anybody who rents a spot out there should get as much support as possible to help get the word out.
What I liked about it was it’s simple and convenient. It’s a meal I could easily take with me and eat at while browsing around in the mall. The container was sturdy enough for that. I guess we’ll just have to see how Hot Potato Bar fares through the rest of the year.
To nominate your restaurant or event to be considered for a review, please email us with your restaurant information. We are always open to suggestions.