Monthly Archives: October 2012

You don’t say

“The whole motivation for this is kind of allowing people to feel the pulse of what’s going on in these businesses while they’re driving down the street.”

– The OnionTree’s Bridgit Yinger, who is organizing a brainstorming session to change city regulations on what businesses can place on sidewalks (tentatively on Nov. 28 at the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.)

Cafe Bel Ami owner sues landlord and property manager over parking

WICHITA — The owner of Cafe Bel Ami is in a parking dispute with his landlord and the company that manages the O’Rourke Title Building at 229 E. William, where the downtown restaurant is located.

Nabil Bacha filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Harry Najim, Bacha’s lawyer, says his client has nonexclusive use of the entire parking lot during certain hours and that reserved signs hinder that.

He says customers “don’t want to go in the restaurant and come back and find their car gone.”

Troy Palmer, president of Simon Palmer Properties, says he can’t discuss the dispute much beyond saying that there is one.

“We really hope to have it resolved before Friday,” he says. “We’re still kind of negotiating.”

There’s a temporary restraining order that forced Palmer to remove the reserved signs for now. A hearing is set for Friday.

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NuWay plans new way to sell its burgers

Chris Stong of NuWay holds one of the chain's a crumbly burgers and the new shipping container that will send the burgers around the country.

WICHITA — As NuWay Facebook (“NuWay Burgers”) followers have already gleefully discovered, the Wichita chain is in the process of preparing to ship its crumbly burgers nationally.

“Most everything is in place,” says director of operations Chris Stong. “We’re hoping to roll this out before Thanksgiving,”

He says there have been a number of tests to see how the plan might work.

First, he and his family ordered other frozen shipped food, such as Omaha Steaks and Chicago deep-dish pizza.

“We were just trying to see how others did it,” Stong says. “We’ve just never had the ability to do it.”

The chain settled on some Styrofoam containers that fit in a box with dry ice, which led to the next test. How do the frozen patties hold up in shipping?

“It seems to work pretty well,” Stong says.

He says the idea for shipping came from customers, who for years have been calling to order frozen patties.

“After several years, we finally go the hint: Hey, people like this.”

So the chain complied.

“All the stores keep a couple dozen available for anybody to come in and buy,” Stong says.

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Howard’s Optique to move within Bradley Fair; new retailers coming soon

WICHITA — The Howard’s Optique at Bradley Fair is moving, but not far.

In December, the store will move between Sephora and Jason’s Deli, which are also in Bradley Fair.

“The relocation of Howard’s Optique will allow us to assemble approximately 4,000 square feet of space to accommodate new tenants,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development.

“We have a waiting list of stores and restaurants that would like to be at Bradley Fair,” she says. “They will often wait on the sidelines until we find the right space … for them.”

When Howard’s leaves its current space, that will free up about 2,000 square feet next to the former FranklinCovey store, which was also about 2,000 square feet. A new retailer or retailers will go in the approximately 4,000 square feet.

With the Howard’s move, the more than 40-year-old store is adding more accessories and gift items.

There are six Howard’s Optique stores in Wichita. The Bradley Fair store opened in 1998 and carries eyewear from such brands as Cartier, David Yurman and Robert Marc.

Look for more news soon about what retailer or retailers may be moving into Bradley Fair.

You don’t say

“It’s not our total desire, but you know, you gotta do what you gotta do.”

– Rev. Fred Hayes, whose New Life Church in Delano is selling contents of the church Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 to raise money to stay in its building at 411 S. Martinson

Wink Hartman Sr. hires Iowa-based VenuWorks to manage Hartman Arena

Wink Hartman

WICHITA — A new company is going to manage the 4-year-old, 7,200-seat Hartman Arena in Park City.

Wink Hartman Sr. has hired Iowa-based VenuWorks, which will book events and handle food and beverage services among other things

Previously, Hartman and his staff have been running the arena.

“I was not doing a very good job,” Hartman says.

“We need to book more events. You know, more concerts, more local events, and I just felt like it was a time for a change in management to try to meet our objectives.”

VenuWorks president Steven Peters started the company 16 years ago to manage arenas with 5,000 to 10,000 seats.

The company manages United Wireless Arena in Dodge City and the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

Peters says his goal with Hartman Arena is clear.

“One word: events. We’ve got to bring more events.”

Hartman Arena has been averaging close to 50 events a year, including soccer games with Hartman’s Wichita Wings and football games with his Wichita Wild.

“Most of our arenas, we try to do 90 a year,” Peters says.

Being the smaller arena to the larger Intrust Bank Arena isn’t a negative, he says.

“That can be the really enviable place to be.”

Peters says there are more shows to fill 6,000 seats than 12,000.

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Drainage work under way at 31st Street South and Greenwich, but Greenwich Plaza still a few years away

WICHITA — South-siders and others passing by the 31st Street South and Greenwich area are wondering what’s going on at the southwest corner of that intersection. It used to be home to horses, but now the horses are gone and machinery to move dirt is in their place.

“It’s really not a new development,” developer Len Marotte says. “It’s something we planned years ago called Greenwich Plaza.”

The property, which is 8.2 acres, already is zoned for limited commercial use. The development likely is still a few years away, though.

“It’s basically a diversion project for drainage,” Marotte says of the work being done. It “opens up the middle portion of our site for development.”

He’d been letting a friend with horses use the property for grazing. Once machinery arrived to fix the drainage, the horses had to go.

“We didn’t want to, you know, scare the horses,” Marotte says.

He says he hasn’t started marketing the property and has “no immediate plans for anything at the moment.”

“It’ll probably be several years,” Marotte says. “It’s still very rural out there. … QuikTrip’s not knocking our door down to locate there.”

With the drainage work, though, he says “maybe I can get it moving a little quicker.”

You don’t say

“I’m thrilled it’s such a hot commodity.”

Ambassador Hotel general manager Michael Frimel on how all 11 of the hotel’s $2,000 New Year’s Eve packages sold before invitations even went out (other price ranges are still available)

Jim’s Builders Hardware in Delano closes

WICHITA — After more than three decades in business, Jim’s Builders Hardware in Delano is closing.

“We’re just closing because of the economy,” owner Jeanne McKiernan says. “It’s really a melancholy situation. We didn’t want to close.”

McKiernan’s late husband, Jim, and a business partner started the company in Kechi in 1979. The store then moved to Delano and has been at a couple of different addresses. It’s been at 567 W. Douglas since 1987.

“This business was built around builders building homes,” McKiernan says. “Builders stopped building homes, so consequently that had a big impact on this business.

“That’s the whole thing.”

Though McKiernan says she’s in business until Oct. 31, the store already is closed to the public. Mainly, she’s now packing boxes.

McCurdy Auction will auction the property and its contents on Nov. 28.

The 5,000-square-foot building was built in 1907.

The construction market has been down for years, but McKiernan says she tried to hold out as long as she could. Finally, she decided she had to close.

“When your business isn’t making money anymore, that’s the clue.”

Former Frida’s Mexican Grill owner looks to reopen in Old Town

WICHITA — Fans of the former Frida’s Mexican Grill may not have to keep dreaming of piratas, the tasty cross between a taco and a panini, much longer. They could be a reality early next year.

Owner Mario Quiroz is looking to reopen the restaurant, this time in Old Town.

“I would like to do something there,” Quiroz says.

He’s eyeing several possibilities but doesn’t have a deal yet.

Frida’s, which closed in 2010, used to be just west of 21st and Amidon near Thai Binh.

Quiroz hasn’t decided if he’ll resurrect the Frida’s name, though he thinks it’s likely.

Fans of the former restaurant don’t have to worry about what he’ll serve, though.

“I know I will use the Frida’s menu for sure,” Quiroz says. “I had a lot of followers.

“People are still asking me . . . ‘Hey, when are you going to reopen Frida’s?’”

His answer:

“As soon as I can get in a good spot.”