I was talking with my dealer in Wichita on a visit there late last year and he was telling me of a place over on the west side of town that had great reuben sandwiches by the name of the Yolo Grill. I had to be back in Wichita a few weeks ago and I decided to seek out the Yolo Grill to get a reuben. However, when I got there I found that they didn't have reubens any longer. And here's the back story as to why they didn't have reubens on my visit.
Aaron and Cindy Cline both had longtime jobs that began to bore them. They decided that they didn't want to work for anyone any longer and they looked for opportunities to become their own boss. They thought about opening their own little restaurant and looked at a small drive-in on N. West St. in Wichita. (see map) The building had originally been one of the first Sonic Drive-In franchises back in the 60's. When the franchise owner closed down that location for a larger location, the building started on a long revolving march of restaurants that included a burger joint, a couple Mexican restaurants, a Chinese food restaurant and a place that specialized in Sloppy Joe's. I'm not kidding. So when the Cline's decided to lease the building for their endeavor, they were met by skepticism from friends who felt the building was cursed.
I believe it was one of their children who came up with the Yolo name - an acronym for "You Only Live Once". They opened their restaurant in August of 2013 and quickly became famous for not only their reuben sandwiches, but their flat grilled burgers, as well.
Things went well for awhile, but suddenly Yolo would be closed for periods of time throughout the summer of 2014. The Cline's finally closed Yolo in October of last year adding to the lore that the little building is cursed. It wasn't long after the Cline's closed their door when one of their regular customers, Chris Byars, took a chance on the place and bought the kitchen equipment from the Cline's and leased the building. Cline had no restaurant training - he calls himself a "home cook" - and after some cleaning and touch-ups, he reopened Yolo in December of last year.
I got into Wichita around 1 p.m. and headed over to Yolo to get a reuben. But, as I said, their menu doesn't feature any reuben sandwiches. But they do have burgers and that's what I ended up getting. They have fresh cut French fries and real homemade onion rings, but I just just went with the burger.
Yolo Grill is not very big. There's - maybe - six or seven tables in the place. I took a seat at a table in the back room that had only four four-seater tables in it. There was some artwork on the wall in sort of a hodgepodge way, but the place was far from spartan.
The girl who took my order at the front counter brought my burger out to me. It was a 1/3 pound flame-broiled burger that was topped with Swiss cheese, fresh lettuce, onion slice and a slice of fresh tomato. This thing was tall on its own - you can almost imagine what Yolo Grill's gargantuan burger, the Tombstone would be like. It features 6 of the 1/3 pound burger patties with cheese on top of them. I saw a picture of it. It looked huge.
The taste of the burger was very good. I'd rather have a flat-grilled burger over a chargrilled burger, but this was juicy and tasty. The veggies on the burger were very fresh and crisp giving the burger a good outdoor/summery taste quality. The bun was light and held together very well. I was impressed with this burger.
Even though I went in with the idea of getting a reuben - even my stomach was craving a reuben - the consolation of getting a burger didn't dampen my feelings about my visit to Yolo Grill. The place is pretty basic. The menu is basic, but everything is fresh and house-made, and it's a great place for a fast-casual meal without going to a chain restaurant. I hope that the new owner is able to make a go of this quaint little place because he has a very good burger.