Monthly Archives: May 2011

Crown Uptown Theatre’s future is in limbo

UPDATED — The fate of the Crown Uptown Theatre is in limbo.

Earlier this month, Have You Heard? reported that Uptown Management Group, which took over the theater near Douglas and Hillside in 2009, was almost $150,000 behind in state and federal taxes.

Now, the group is locked out of the theater, and it’s unclear when or if it will be let back in.

Karen Morris, whose late husband, Ted, founded the dinner theater, still owns the building. She changed the locks Monday.

Morris isn’t commenting yet.

The situation appears to be in flux.

Robert Brinkley, manager of the Uptown Management Group, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The theater’s website, which was working early today, is not online now.

The theater is between productions. “Pump Boys and Dinettes” wrapped on Sunday.

There’s a new theater group that hopes to raise enough capital to buy the Crown Uptown building and start a new company. No one with that group is talking publicly yet, either.

Look for more developments later this week.

Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce has presidential aspirations for this year’s annual meeting

WICHITA — The Secret Service served Wichita media outlets with some papers today.

Fortunately, perhaps, for us, it wasn’t the real Secret Service.

A quite official-looking young man sporting a signature dark suit and shades and carrying a black briefcase delivered invitations to a 10 a.m. Tuesday news conference to announce the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting speaker.

The Nov. 3 event “has the potential to go down as our organization’s biggest ever,” the invitation declared.

One media member received a second sealed envelope while at lunch. It contained a $2 bill.

A tip, you might say.

Clearly, with the Secret Service involvement, it appears a former president will be this year’s speaker.

But which one?

Read More »

Eccentricity to move this week and change names to Sister Moses

WICHITA — More than a year ago, Eccentricity owner Linda Burton planned to move within Comotara Center at 29th and Rock Road to the former Olive Tree Bistro space.

Thursday, she’s finally doing it.

“It’s been a long process, but we’re here,” she says.

Along with the expansion into 3,800 square feet, Burton is changing the name of the eclectic shop — it sells women’s clothing, home furnishings and bath products — to Sister Moses.

That’s also the name of a new line of clothing she’s created.

“We’re going to have it exclusively for this store right now,” Burton says.

Her plan is to eventually sell it at other shops as well.

Burton chose the Sister Moses name for a couple of reasons.

First, she calls just about everyone who walks in her shop “sister.”

“I’m always like, ‘Hey, sister, how ya doin’?’ ”

Burton also identifies with Moses, as in the Ten Commandments Moses.

“He was a numbers man. Think about it,” she says. “That would be me.”

Eccentricity also was a tricky name for people, Burton says.

“It was a big mouthful to say. No one ever pronounced it right.”

Burton has changed the name of her shop once before. When she opened 20 years ago, she called it Cricket & Co.

She’s not afraid to change the name again.

“Everybody asks me that,” Burton says.

She’s just thrilled to be in her new space, regardless of the name.

“It’s good. It’s all good.”

Gemstone Jewelers to expand with Estate Jewelry and Gifts, Jewelry on Consignment

WICHITA — Patti Schrag’s Gemstone Jewelers has been open in Derby since 2007. Since then, more and more people have been bringing old jewelry to her store to scrap for money.

“Some of these rings and bracelets are beautiful,” Schrag says.

“I hate to just buy their gold and scrap it,” she says. “I look at it, and I think to myself, why would I do that?”

So Schrag, who expanded to 900 square feet at 200 N. Baltimore in November, got to thinking.

“I’ll bet I can do a whole little store attached to this one,” she says she thought.

So now she’s opening Estate Jewelry and Gifts, Jewelry on Consignment to sell previously owned jewelry.

In addition to wanting money for gold, Schrag says some people have high-end pieces from divorces or deaths in their families, and they don’t know what to do with the pieces.

“I understand the frustration of customers,” Schrag says. “What do you do with this stuff?”

She’ll open the new shop on June 6 in 600 square feet attached to her current store.

“It really works pretty excellent.”

You don’t say

“I really needed a drink about a month and a half ago.”

Tanya Tandoc, whose month-and-a-half old Tanya’s Soup Kitchen now has beer and wine available along with a new patio

KMUW, 89.1, makes changes in response to budget cuts

WICHITA — Public radio station KMUW, 89.1-FM, has made some changes in response to previous and possible pending budget cuts.

“Cost savings is kind of what we’re all about these days,” says director of radio and general manager Mark McCain.

“We’re really struggling with the whole funding — the uncertainty of the future here.”

Since 2009, the station has lost $50,000 in state money and about $12,000 from Wichita State University, and more cuts are a threat.

The station is streamlining where it can, which includes the elimination of an accounting position and jazz show host Barry Gaston’s part-time job.

McCain says resources are being reallocated to news coverage.

“That local news piece is really what’s going to keep us distinctive,” he says of what he calls “that NPR style” of reporting.

The station also has eliminated its HD broadcasting for now, which includes 24-hour BBC streaming.

McCain says while there was an HD audience, it wasn’t big enough to justify the cost of operating that transmitter and paying an annual fee.

Gaston’s shows — “Jazz Cafe,” which aired weekdays from 7 to 9 p.m., and “Moonglow,” a jazz interview show that aired Sundays from 8 to 10 p.m. — will no longer air.

“We’re not really eliminating jazz,” McCain says.

There’s now a show called “Night Train,” hosted by KMUW’s Chris Heim, that airs from 10 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday.

Gaston has mixed feelings about the change, in part because of his day job producing radio and television commercials nationally through Gaston Marketing.

“It always would be an effort for me to get over and record and have the time I need to devote to my company,” he says.

When Gaston started at KMUW in 2000, he was a volunteer. Eventually, WSU officials said he had to be paid. Gaston says he didn’t need the salary and gave it away to charity.

When he was told this week that his position was eliminated, Gaston says he offered to return to being a volunteer, but he says he was told that wasn’t possible.

Gaston says he understands the station’s financial situation and hopes listeners continue to support it.

However, he says he doesn’t appreciate how his departure was handled.

“I felt kind of shoved out the door,” Gaston says.

“I never really got to say goodbye to the numerous listeners we had,” he says. “I didn’t want to just disappear on them.”

McCain says, “I can understand that, but at the same time we had to plan for the changes we needed to make and integrate those as we thought best.”

What Gaston calls the “less-important time position” of jazz at 10 p.m. shows the station is now not as committed to jazz.

He’s disappointed for himself and listeners.

“Yeah, it’s a sad deal.”

You don’t say

“It’s fairly new too; built in 1925!”

PrairieFire Coffee Roasters general manager Jeff Deitchler commenting in an e-mail about his company’s coffee roaster, which he says gets better with age much like a barbecue smoker

PackAdemics to be featured on Lifetime show “The Balancing Act”

WICHITA — Wichita’s PackAdemics is going to be featured on Lifetime’sThe Balancing Act.

“It’s all about how to balance your life as a mom,” says PackAdemics co-owner Mary Blasi.

That’s what her company helps with, too.

“They wanted to feature us because they think we’re such a convenient venue for a mom.”

The 2-year-old company creates packs of school supplies so parents don’t have to make several stops collecting necessary items.

Blasi says it takes her average customer four minutes online to shop, which she says makes “it an extremely easy process for the busy  mom.”

She says she simply built on the idea that PTOs and other groups have done for years.

“I’ve just created it so it’s so stinkin’ easy.”

The show will air at 6 a.m. on May 31.

“They think it’s so cool,” Blasi says of Lifetime. “The majority of moms just hate and dread doing back-to-school shopping.”

Spice Merchant gets a new coffee roaster

WICHITA — A fire in the Spice Merchant’s longtime coffee roaster last year has led to a new roaster this year.

“Since that happened, we . . . made a decision to order a new roaster that is modern and up to date,” says Bob Boewe, who owns the store with his wife, Sue.

The new roaster, custom manufactured by the U.S. Roaster Corp. in Oklahoma City, is supposed to arrive today.

The Spice Merchant’s other roaster is about four decades old. Before being at the store downtown on East Douglas, it had been at a coffee roasting company in Barcelona, Spain.

Coffee residue had gotten built up in the exhaust venting.

“It got hot enough that it ignited,” Boewe says.

“It’s one of those things somewhere in the back of your brain (that) says you ought to clean the flue,” he says. “That’s what we hadn’t done. Luckily we were back in business the next day and had the roaster running the day after that.”

Boewe says the new roaster is environmentally friendly because it recycles the wasted hot air that goes through the roaster and cleans it up by getting rid of the smoke in it.

“Instead of having to reheat the air from room temperature, it takes that hot air that you already have and runs it back through the roasting chamber,” he says. “All that hot air now just goes up the chimney, so to speak.

“It’ll save us on utilities.”

That’s a good thing, Boewe says, because “it’s quite an investment for us.”

He says the roaster is “very programmable” and makes great coffee.

“It just does a beautiful job.”

Boewe taste-tested it in Oklahoma.

Customers can have their first tastes Friday if all goes well.

“We’re hoping.”

You don’t say

“It’s a very unique job. (For) one thing, you get to work for Wink.”

– Former Hartman Arena general manager Eric Blockie, who is helping Wink Hartman Sr. find his replacement since he’s taken a job as GM at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas