Daily Archives: Sept. 11, 2013

You don’t say

“I may be persuaded to return to work on the family farm in Oklahoma if I can get my uncle to buy one of these things.”

– Mayor Carl Brewer’s comment Wednesday at the grand opening of a new Straub International facility in west Wichita, where a $450,000 piece of equipment was parked in the background

Ambassador Hotel may align with Autograph Collection by Marriott

WICHITA — Wichita’s Ambassador Hotel, which has struggled since opening in January, may become part of the growing Autograph Collection by Marriott.

“I’m looking into soft brands,” says Paul Coury, chairman of Tulsa-based Coury Group.

The soft brand trend allows boutique hotels to retain their independence but align themselves with the power of a large chain.

Coury won’t confirm if he’s working on a deal for the Ambassador to become part of the Autograph Collection.

He does say, though, “If we were to do anything, it’s a good fit for what we do.”

Coury says a soft brand would allow the Ambassador to keep its name and individual style “but still maintain certain standards.”

“We’re not where we originally hoped to be by now,” he says.

“I don’t think we did as good of a job as we needed to to get the major demand generators exposed to our product.”

He’s referring to groups and businesses that can commit to annual contracts with hotels, often at the start of each new year.

“We’re getting ready to burn through 2013 pretty quick,” Coury says. “Once January rolls around, based on the feedback we’ve been receiving … we’ll reach the original projections.”

There are several hurdles, he says.

“Sometimes things don’t go the way you project,” Coury says. “I made some mistakes. I misread the market on some things.”

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Ribbit Computers owner to open Golden Corral and possibly Jack in the Box

WICHITA — Ribbit Computers owner Alex Harb has been interested in the restaurant business since college, and now he’s finally getting ready to open one of his own.

“I just wanted to wait for the right opportunity to do it,” he says.

His first foray into the business will be with a Golden Corral in Raymore, Mo., followed by three more in the Kansas City area in the next five years.

What he’s planning for Wichita is a little more exciting, depending on your dining preferences.

“We’re talking to Jack in the Box,” Harb says.

He’s had a couple of meetings but has had to put talks on the back burner for a bit. Harb says he expects to sign a deal within six months to do three Jack in the Box restaurants in Wichita. He says he loves the chain’s tacos and was impressed with how the California-based company operates.

“I think Wichita will really embrace that brand, and it will do really well in Wichita.”

Harb says North Carolina-based Golden Corral is a good company, too. A franchisee already has two in Wichita, so Harb says doing any Golden Corrals here is not an option for him.

Once he signs the Jack in the Box deal, Harb says it’s not clear how long it would take to get the restaurants open.

“Usually these things take some time,” he says. “Finding the site sometimes can be a little difficult.”

Once he has the sites, Harb says it takes 120 days to build each of the restaurants.

Harb is a 2004 graduate of Wichita State University.

“While I was going to college, I worked in restaurants,” he says. “I really wanted to open a restaurant by the time I was done.”

He says he realized he needed business experience first.

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