Monthly Archives: April 2009

You don’t say

“They’re grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!!!”

Steve Onken, development director of the Sedgwick County Zoo, doing a Tony the Tiger impersonation to describe the tiger cutouts on billboards around town to promote the zoo’s new tiger exhibit

Westway Plaza gets a facelift

Along with what you might call some serious spring cleaning, Westway Plaza at Pawnee and Seneca is going to be completely refurbished as well.

“We plan to renovate the entire mall,” says Jeff Davani, who represents the Southern California-based owner of the center.

Westway is 224,905 square feet including outparcels.

“We bought it last summer,” Davani says. There were renovation plans from the beginning, but then the economy changed things.

“Suddenly the banking industry went crazy,” Davani says. “We changed our view after we (found) out money is hard to come by.”

That meant renovations were delayed — not canceled.

After the first phase of cleaning the center, Davani says, renovations started “slowly but surely.”

The owner is spending his own money to renovate but still needs $2 million to $3 million to finish. A new facade for the aging center is part of the plans.

“We’re very commited to do what it takes to get it to look beautiful,” Davani says.

And to attract new tenants to boost occupancy.

“We need to bring some people in.”

Little Monk’s coming to the south side

The first of what could be three or four Wichita-area restaurants called Little Monk’s Asian Grill is going to open by June 1 at 4734 S. Broadway.

“We thought this was a great location for our first venture,” says Jose Mendez, who is opening the restaurant with Nathan Gasser. “We’re trying to be value priced, but our food will be the best that you can have.”

Most entrees, which Mendez says will have a largely Chinese influence, will be in the $5 to $6 range.

Mendez describes the restaurant as fast casual, meaning it’s a step up from fast food, but it’s not a traditional full-service restaurant.

The Little Monk’s name came after a lot of thought.

“We brainstormed a ton of names,” Mendez says.

They thought Little Monk’s is catchy and fun, which Mendez says should match the bright and colorful atmosphere at the restaurant.

“It’s pretty playful.”

Janet Rine finds Salvation — and more work

legionThanks to Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita may once again be home to a speakeasy like ones that were here in the ’20s and ’30s.

In fact, Caffe Moderne owner Janet Rine may open one in what she says is an actual former speakeasy location.

Her husband, physician Grant Rine, has Old Town Architectural Salvage at 126 N. St. Francis, which is a former American Legion building just north of the new arena.

“The building it resides in has become too valuable,” Rine says. “We want to make better use of that store.”

churchSo this week, the Rines purchased the former Immanuel Baptist Church at 147 S. Hillside and plan to move the salvage store to the former school on the property. More on that in a minute.

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Beadazzled finds a new home

bead

And now in the final bit of Old Town news for the day . . .

Beadazzled is moving from its space of two years next to Caffe Moderne across Old Town Square to the space between Uptown Bistro and Sabor.

“We’re working around the clock to get it done,” says Beadazzled owner Julie Freige, who recently made the decision to move and hopes to be open by Wednesday. “I believe that the location is much better than where I’m at.”

Freige likes the space for its visibility and thinks it will be easier for customers.

The retail portion of the shop will be slightly smaller than it is now, but the studio where there are bead-making classes is much larger.

Beadazzled’s new space is where Best Cleaners once was and Amanda Goner later planned Label Wine Boutique & Spirits.

“It’s a little scary right now to take my little nest egg and invest it,” Goner says. “It doesn’t mean I won’t open one in the near future.”

Goner is director of marketing and design for Melad Stephan’s Empire Restaurant Management, which includes Uptown Bistro and Sabor among other restaurants.

Stephan had planned to use the space behind Label Wine Boutique for overflow seating from Uptown Bistro and Sabor. But Freige wanted all of the space.

“I’m going to regret it later,” Stephan says, “but that’s OK.”

Ballroom comes to Old Town

ballroom

Old Town already had Rhythm, but now it has a ballroom named in its honor.

Josiah Ryan (shown here with his dog Prix) is opening Old Town Ballroom Friday in the former Rhythm Ballroom space at 630 E. Douglas just down from Old Mill Tasty Shop.

“I just thought it would be a good opportunity to take it over and start my own business,” says Ryan, who rented space from the previous owner.

He changed the name to encompass all kinds of dancing.

“We’ll be teaching pretty much anything you’ve seen on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ ” Ryan says.

That could be belly dancing, the Charleston or the Lindy Hop.

Ryan will give private lessons to groups and individuals seven days a week.

You don’t say

“Tip cows. . . . Watch tumbleweeds roll by. . . . Catch a connecting flight.”
— Some entrants’ responses on what there is to do in Wichita for Go Wichita’sSearch for Wichita Skeptics” contest, which was judged Wednesday (winners will be announced later)

Mosley Street Market set to open

There are already a lot of meet-and-greet spots in Old Town, so why not add a “swap-meet-style enterprise,” too.

That’s how Lonna Chappelle and Vikki Stone are describing their new Mosley Street Market, which opens May 8 at 312 N. Mosley next to the Courtyard by Marriott at Old Town.

“It is a flea market-type venue,” Chappelle says. “We’re going to have new merchandise, antiques, collectibles. We’re trying to get local artists and crafts people.”

The 15,000-square-foot building has room for about 50 vendors. So far, 15 have signed up for the 144-square-foot, $70 spaces.

“We know with the amount of Wichitans out of work right now, a lot of them have hobbies, a lot of them are very talented craft people,” Chappelle says. “We wanted to be able to offer them an affordable venue where they could display and sell their items.”

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Charlie Badeen eyes the west side

beer

Restaurateur and bar owner Charlie Badeen is looking for space on the west side for a new concept similar to his Mulligan’s Pub on the east side and O’Brien’s Irish Pub near Scotch & Sirloin.

“I think we’ll stay with the Irish theme,” Badeen says. “It seems to work.”

Badeen used to have a Mulligan’s, which is known for its pizza, on the west side at 1335 N. Tyler where Los Cocos Mexican Restaurant is today.

“It did really well,” he says.

Badeen closed only when someone — not anyone with Los Cocos — offered him twice what he had invested in the space.

Along with some of the fare he offers at Mulligan’s and O’Brien’s, Badeen says he’d like to add hamburgers, which he doesn’t offer at the other venues because he doesn’t have the right hoods for cooking them.

Badeen isn’t looking for a huge amount of space.

“Small bars work,” he says.

Why Wong’s closed

Curious readers have been wondering what happened to Wong’s at 7603 W. 21st.

After 10 years in business, owner Duong Nguyen decided business had gotten too slow. Her lease was up, so she decided to close.

The last day of business was March 29.

Nguyen says she’ll consider reopening one day when the economy is better.

Customers have already been asking her to reopen.

“Now is not the right time,” Nguyen says.