September 27, 2021

Well-known bartender the victim of Old Town club shooting

Preston Spencer — the man killed early Tuesday morning at a Wichita nightclub — was a father, a husband, an aspiring businessman and a well-known, popular member of the Wichita bartending community, his friends said on Tuesday.

Spencer, 34, was killed during an overnight shooting at Enigma Club & Lounge at 351 N. Mosley in Old Town. Police say that the shooter, who is still at large, was kicked out of the club after getting into a fight but returned and fired multiple rounds with a handgun through the windows from outside. Five women in the club were also injured.

On Tuesday, Spencer’s close friend Emma Mast said that he was at the club to hang out with co-workers from Twelve, the restaurant at 12111 W. Maple where he worked as the bar manager. His sister, cousin and a few other members of his friend group joined him as well.

When the shooting started, Mast said, Spencer put himself in front of his cousin, who is pregnant. The cousin, Mast said, was checked out at the hospital and she and her unborn baby are both okay.

“Preston did what Preston does,” she said. “He protected his friends and family.”

Spencer, a “teddy bear” of a guy who was well over 6 feet tall, had been married to wife, Kendra, for almost two years. Their son just turned 5, and they also have a 3-year-old daughter.

He was a friend to all he met, Mast said, a former Heights High School football player who had just launched his own bartending and catering business called 316 Proof.

“He was the light of the room,” said Mast, who met Spencer when both worked at the bar Larry Bud’s and who later introduced him to Kendra. “He made every single place feel like home, no matter where it was. He made sure everyone was seen and happy.”

Preston Spencer, second from right, is pictured with his wife, Kendra, and their two children. Courtesy photo

Twelve was closed for business on Tuesday as Spencer’s co-workers tried to absorb the tragedy, said owner Bryce Kuhn. Spencer, who was a charmer, had worked for Kuhn for five years, having returned to lead the bar three years ago.

Kuhn said that Spencer last worked at the restaurant on Saturday night. Several Twelve staff members had joined Spencer at the club earlier in the evening on Monday but left shortly before the shooting started.

Spencer was the “consummate entertainer,” Kuhn said, the kind of bartender who attracted a following. The irony of the situation, Kuhn said, was that if Spencer had encountered an angry patron at his bar, he would have been able to make him a cocktail and have him laughing in no time.

“People came just to sit at his bar even if he was so busy that service was slower,” Kuhn said. “They wouldn’t care. They just wanted to be in his presence feel his charm.”

Spencer worked over the years at places like Larry Bud’s, The Tin Lizard at the Kansas Star Casino and at Old Chicago, Kuhn said, and he counted among his friends many of Wichita’s best-known chefs and bartenders.

Friends of the Preston family have started a GoFundMe that has so far raised more than $20,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Anyone with information about the case or shooter is asked to leave a tip with Wichita police detectives at 316-268-4646 or Wichita-Sedgwick County Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.