UPDATED — Shorty Small’s last day in business in Wichita was Feb. 24.
“Yesterday was a very emotional, very hard day,” says Cindy Harsha, vice president of the Oklahoma City-based company.
“I just can’t begin to tell you how emotional and hard it was.”
The restaurant opened more than seven years ago on the southwest corner of 119th and Maple in the Westlake shopping center.
“We opened to some really great numbers,” Harsha says. “Then, after about a year or so, things were dwindling.”
The restaurant initially was a fast-casual concept, but Harsha says the neighborhood wanted something more, so the chain remodeled into a full-service restaurant.
She says diners “really had a lovely reaction to that.”
Sales didn’t remain strong, though.
“Wichita seems to have suffered some economic hardships,” Harsha says. “We’re not the only ones the economy has been mean to.”
Road construction in the area didn’t help either, she says.
Another retooling of the restaurant last year also helped, though.
“We did have a nice little bounce back of sales this last spring,” Harsha says. “It seemed like a curtain fell down this summer.”
“It just was pretty devastating to sales.”
Sales have been better since Christmas, she says, “but not enough.”
The chain, which at one time had eight restaurants and now has four, had planned on an east-side site as well.
“We never got that west side one quite profitable enough,” Harsha says.
“We worked really hard to keep Wichita … on the team,” she says. “It wasn’t for lack of effort.”
Harsha says the restaurant had great employees and great landlords in Bill and W.G. Farha.
“They were wonderful and supportive and really looked for ways to be a great partner.”
She says she hopes to work with them again on another Shorty Small’s one day.
“We would love to serve Wichita again in the future,” Harsha says. “I think people loved our food.
“It’s been a good experience. It’s just unfortunate that it wasn’t profitable.”