Daily Archives: April 30, 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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