Monthly Archives: November 2012

More than four decades after opening, Aleta’s Bras & Lingerie is closing

WICHITA — Aleta Williams has a simple explanation of why, after more than four decades in business, she’s closing her Aleta’s Bras & Lingerie shop.

“When you’re almost 81, it’s time to go, don’t you think?”

Her customers beg to differ.

“That’s what I hear every day when they walk through the front door: ‘What am I going to do without you?’”

The shop, which is at the southeast corner of Central and Edgemoor, has faithful customers worldwide. Williams is devoted to them, too.

“You’re doing such a service for women,” she says. She’s especially happy to help women who have had mastectomies.

“If I could just fit bras and help my customers, if that’s all I had to do … I’d stay here, and I’d fall over dead,” she says of happily staying on till she dies.

Williams hates paperwork, though, and she’s had enough.

She never wanted to be in the business in the first place.

Williams’ late husband, Hal, approached her with the idea in about 1970 after reading a Parade story about a couple who sold bras.

“We’re going in the bra business,” he told his wife.

“I fought him tooth and nail,” Williams says.

“Now you don’t expect me to go out and put women in bras and girdles?” she said to him.

“He saw the business angle of the bra business,” Williams says.

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You don’t say

“I want to be one of the 1 percent. But the problem with the 1 percent is there’s only 1 percent of them. If you want to build a business model that’s really far-reaching and world-changing, then it’s got to fit everybody.”

Josh Umbehr of Atlas MD quoted in a Bloomberg Businessweek story this week on concierge medicine

State closes A Bicycle Service over taxes

WICHITA — Alcoholic Beverage Control agents with the Kansas Department of Revenue this week seized the assets of A Bicycle Service in Derby. The state says the company owes $56,254 in state withholding tax.

Owner Richard Bledsoe couldn’t be reached for comment.

The state closed all three of Bledsoe’s stores, include A Bicycle Service shops in Andover and El Dorado.

In a press release, the state said, “Only after several unsuccessful attempts does the department take the action of seizing assets, which in this instance resulted in the business being closed.”

Mike’s Wine Dive owners to open the Hill Bar and Grill in the former Barrier’s space

Brothers Brent (left) and Brad Steven in front of the former Barrier’s building at Douglas and Oliver, which they’re going to transform into the Hill Bar and Grill.

WICHITA — As some residents of Crown Heights are organizing a group to protest a bar and grill going in the former Barrier’s space at Douglas and Oliver, the restaurateurs hoping to open it are ready to share details.

Mike’s Wine Dive owners Brent and Brad Steven plan to open the Hill Bar and Grill — named for the hill in College Hill — in 5,100 square feet of the building in March.

Mike’s is in the center at the northwest corner of the intersection. The Hill will be on the northeast corner.

Though Brad Steven says the Hill will be a great place to catch a game, he says, “It’s not going to be a sports bar.”

“Our focus will be a wide selection of craft beers as well as American food,” he says. “Basically, we’re going to be specializing in beers the way we specialize in wine at Mike’s.”

There will be 25 beers on tap and craft beers from around the world.

Brent Steven describes it as “kind of like an ale house.”

He says the idea is “a place that’s totally different than Mike’s.”

Where Mike’s is more fine dining, he says, he and his brother envision the Hill as “more of a hangout spot.”

“It will appeal to a wider audience than Mike’s does.”

There will be seating for about 150 customers.

There will be an outside patio facing Douglas that is within the front of the building and will serve as an area for smoking. There will be another patio that wraps around the east side of the building.

There will be another 2,400 square feet left in the building for another business.

The Hill’s hours aren’t set yet, but the Stevens are thinking 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. most days and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends.

The hours are a key issue for some residents.

“You can go on the news and see all the time what happens in Old Town at 2 a.m.,” says Melinda Foley, who is president of the Crown Heights Neighborhood Association.

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Hana Next Door will open in 2013

WICHITA — Eunice and Jay Kim are still planning another expansion of their Hana Cafe in Old Town Square, but it won’t happen next month as they originally thought.

“We’re still working on it,” Eunice Kim says.

She says Hana Next Door, which is taking the space the Wichita Police Department substation previously occupied, will open sometime in early 2013.

The new Hana concept is slightly different from the traditional Korean, Japanese and sushi dishes Hana Cafe offers. It will have express-style Korean food that diners can take to go. There will be limited seating as well.

The new restaurant also will have more tofu and vegetarian offerings along with salads and what Kim calls “healthy food.”

We’ll let you know an opening date as soon as there is one.

Mattress Firm to open at New Leaf Plaza

WICHITA — Mattress Firm, which just opened a new store near Central and I-235, is opening another new store on the west side. This one will go in the former Hollywood Video space at New Leaf Plaza, the shopping center at 21st and Amidon that used to be known as Marina Lakes. This will make the chain’s seventh Wichita store.

“If you look at the map of Wichita, we’ve got most of the shopping areas covered,” says franchisee Emmanuel Giannas, who has two partners in the business.

Giannas says the time is right to go to that area.

“That was once a very much highly shopped area,” he says.

With the addition of the Walmart Neighborhood Market at New Leaf, Giannas expects it to be a popular area once again.

“It’s going to bring back a lot of shopping to the area.”

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You don’t say

“We’re here anyway. Why not?”

– Dave Chaffin of Shoeless Joe’s Old Fashioned Burgers and Phillys on serving breakfast now that nearby King’s-X Diner has closed, even though “we are probably the most unorthodox breakfast place you’d ever want to find”

Teppanyaki Grill Sushi Buffet to open on West Kellogg next to Best Buy

WICHITA — What likely is going to be the biggest restaurant in Wichita is going to open in January.

Teppanyaki Grill Sushi Buffet is going to open in 13,000 square feet at 6710 W. Kellogg next to Best Buy.

“We can hold about 400 people,” says project manager Ricky Cui.

He’s with Minneapolis-based Teppanyaki Grill Buffet, a company that has six buffet restaurants so far, including locations in Omaha, Neb., Sioux Falls, S.D., Chicago, Lawrence and two in the Minneapolis area.

Cui says the company is interested in Wichita due to its proximity to Lawrence.

He says the restaurant will have 12 buffet tables, each of which holds about 20 to 30 items.

The restaurant’s specialties are sushi and Japanese-style teppanyaki, but there are other kinds of Asian and American food available.

Cui says the chain is looking for a Kansas City location. He says if the Wichita restaurant does well, the company may consider a second location here as well.

‘Til We Meet again obtains license to sell Vatican caskets, urns, grave markers and memorial products

WICHITA — If a business person would like to do business with the Vatican, is it as easy as calling up and asking?

Almost. At least that’s how it seemed to go for Nathan Smith and Traci Smith-Cone of ’Til We Meet Again, the casket store at Towne West Square that’s turning into a national chain.

The day after Thanksgiving, Smith says he and Smith-Cone signed a deal with the Vatican for Vatican-licensed merchandise.

“We are the only source for retail for all Vatican caskets, urns and memorial products throughout the United States,” Smith says. “It’s been something we’ve been working on for quite some time.”

Another company used to have the exclusive license, he says.

“That company that was doing that fell on some hard times and bad management and are no longer in existence,” Smith says.

When he heard that, he says he called the Vatican to inquire about the license.

“Through a lot of negotiations and talks, we thought it brought a lot of value to have that license from the Vatican,” Smith says. “It’s going to be a pretty big license for us.”

The company is in the process of working with the Vatican and several manufacturers on developing lines for caskets, urns, grave markers, jewelry and keepsakes.

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West-side Baskin-Robbins closes for the winter due to lack of drive-through

WICHITA — The west-side Baskin-Robbins store near 21st and Maize Road has closed for the winter.

“It’s more economically feasible at this point to temporarily close it down for the winter and then reopen in the spring,” says owner David Cortez.

He’s not closing the east-side Baskin-Robbins near 21st and Webb Road. He expects business to remain strong there through the winter because 50 percent of his sales come from the store’s drive-through.

“We just don’t have a drive-through at the west store,” Cortez says. “It’s real tough because … of how it’s laid out.”

Coming into the store can be a bigger hassle in winter weather. Also, it can be difficult for parents with children in car seats.

“You’ve got a lot of soccer moms who don’t want to get out of their car,” Cortez says. “It’s very convenient to have that drive-through.”

He wants to find a way to have one.

“I’m looking at some options.”