WICHITA — Since last year, Ben Arnold of Corporate Caterers of Wichita has been eyeing the former Olive Tree Bistro banquet hall at Comotara Center at 29th and Rock for expansion.
He didn’t think a deal would happen, though, because he doesn’t need the former Olive Tree and Chelsea’s restaurant space.
“It was too much space,” he says.
Now, he’s worked out an arrangement with RP Realty Partners to take just the banquet room.
RP will lease the two restaurant spaces for retail.
Antoine Toubia, the late founder of the company, first opened a restaurant there in 1987.
Arnold will sign a lease for the 13,200 square feet of banquet and kitchen space Friday.
By May 1st, following some remodeling, he’ll be ready to accept catering functions for up to 400 people.
He will keep his space at Douglas and West through the end of the year, and customers can choose to have events on the west side or the east side.
Then, in January, Arnold will close the west-side banquet facility and move his kitchen east.
“It’s slow enough that I can kill business one week without it killing me,” Arnold says of timing it for early in the year.
The kitchen in his new space needs extensive remodeling, Arnold says, so he’ll continue to cook on the west side until next year’s move.
In addition to catering events at the east-side space, Arnold says customers also can rent the room and use another food provider.
Arnold and his wife, Denise, will sign a 10-year lease for the banquet room.
Isn’t that a big commitment?
“Yes, it is.”