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.
“The restaurant business is really tough,” Harb says. “You can’t make mistakes.”
Now, he has five Ribbit Computers and three Computer Depot stores.
“Thankfully, I did well with the computer business,” Harb says.
“I have a really good team that works with me,” he says. “I’m surrounded by the right people.”
That makes opening another business much less complicated, Harb says.
“I’m halfway there for any other business. … Things are easier for me to explore other options. Of course, I don’t want to do it too fast.”
Why torture himself at all by going into such a tough business?
“Trying to make a living,” he says.
“I honestly enjoy it,” Harb says. “ I really do. I’m the kind of guy that wants something different every day.”