Monthly Archives: January 2014

Papa Murphy’s waits on expansion plans

UPDATED — Papa Murphy’s is not going to open a new store in the 21st and Amidon area this year as planned, but it likely will happen next year.

Last year, the chain of take-and-bake pizzas started letting customers know about its plans for 21st and Amidon. That’s when the chain and its nine stores in Wichita were owned by Papa Murphy’s corporate.

Now there’s a new owner, Papa’s Partners, which is a group of partners from Kansas City.

“You know how it goes when you take over new ownership,” says district manager Bryan Martin.

He says the owners are going to focus on best practices for now and put off expansion plans until later.

“The focus is the nine stores that are preexisting right now,” Martin says.

“Wichita’s definitely an area that we’re looking to grow. It’s definitely a market that Papa Murphy’s is excited about being in, and we’re looking into it.”

You don’t say

“Good thing these guys aren’t in the amputation business.”

– County Manager Bill Buchanan in a Facebook post about his dentist’s office, which called after a Thursday root canal to say, “We did the wrong tooth.”

Spear’s Restaurant & Pie Shop selling to longtime employee

Randy Spear, right, is selling Spear's Restaurant & Pie Shop to longtime general manager Dan Crandall, the first person outside of the Spear family to own the restaurant.

Randy Spear, right, is selling Spear’s Restaurant & Pie Shop to longtime general manager Dan Crandall, the first person outside of the Spear family to own the restaurant.

WICHITA — Officially, Dan Crandall has been the general manager of Spear’s Restaurant & Pie Shop for most of the 26 years he’s worked there.

Unofficially, he’s known as “the pie guy.”

Now, he has a new title: owner.

“It’s really one of these neat deals,” Crandall says. “It’s kind of a progression of things that I’ll just take over.”

The business has been in the Spear family since Gene and Betty Spear founded it in 1956. Spear’s had a chain of six restaurants at one time. Now, it has one restaurant at 4323 W. Maple.

The Spears’ son, Randy Spear, first became a co-owner in 1980. Through the years, various family members have been part of the business, but Spear has been the sole owner for the last decade.

“It feels really good going with Dan,” Spear says of selling. He calls it “kind of a mixed blessing, I guess.”

“It would be much harder if it was someone else coming in that we weren’t familiar with. Dan has been a strong member of our team for so long that it’s very easy for it to happen now.”

Crandall says he’s “worked with him very, very closely over the years” and he “pretty much (knows) everything there is to know about it.”

Still, he says, “it’s a really scary venture.”

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You don’t say

“It was a surprise.”

– Restaurateur Syed Jillani, who owns Kababs, Olives & Pitas and Wichita Private Chef’s Catering, on being sued for back rent at 366 N. Rock Road where he had hoped to open a restaurant but never did

Demolition work under way at Twin Lakes in preparation for possible development

WICHITA — In preparation for possible new development, there’s demolition work under way at Twin Lakes, the shopping center at 21st and Amidon that once was Wichita’s premier retail destination.

“The owners are demolishing two portions of the property to clear ground for a new development, but they don’t know what that new development is going to be,” says Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, which manages the property.

The Colorado-based owners “thought it would be better to demolish portions of the center that were obsolete.”

Saville says a couple of areas of the center have been difficult to rent in recent years. That includes the former Sears automotive center on the south side of the property. Saville says the owners are considering doing a multifamily residential development there.

The former cinema at the center, which last was home to Aaron’s, also is being demolished. Saville says that area, which is on the west side of the property along Amidon, could potentially be used for a freestanding retail outlet.

We’ll let you know what happens.

i9 Sports franchise opening in Wichita

WICHITA — It’s not uncommon for kids to grow up wanting to be sports stars, but sports enthusiast David Allen had a more unusual dream. He wanted to have a Christian-based youth sports league.

“I like God, and I like sports,” he says. “Why not mix the two?”

That’s his ultimate dream, but for now Allen is starting with i9 Sports, a Tampa-based franchise that’s a youth sports league geared to girls and boys ages 3 to 14.

“Our main objective is to help kids succeed in life through sports,” Allen says.

The name, according to the i9 Sports website, symbolizes its nine approaches to sports: “imaginative, innovative, interactive, integrity-driven, impassioned, inspirational, instructional, insightful and inclusive. i9 Sports literally means ‘i to the 9th power’!”

Allen says the program is about building confidence and leadership skills.

Initially, i9 Sports will offer coed flag football, soccer and T-ball in Wichita.

“We’re looking at fields on the east side just for this season,” Allen says.

The season starts April 26 and goes through June 21.

The next season, which starts in late July, most likely will include west-side fields as well. Allen hopes to add Derby fields by the fall season.

“We’re looking to expand season by season just so we can be closer to everybody.”

He’ll add basketball, possibly this summer, and may add baseball as well.

Allen says it’s all about skilled development “rather than the winning-at-all-costs mindset that is so prevalent right now in youth sports.”

That means all players will have equal playing time, regardless of their skill levels.

Players will be divided into teams by age, weight and height.

“We pride ourselves in fun,” Allen says.

He says that’s often missing in youth sports today.

“An alarming amount of kids are dropping out of youth sports because of that.”

Parents play an important role, Allen says.

“We have a parent pledge,” he says. “We’re there for the kids … so act accordingly.”

Allen says it’s to help avoid “crazy parents on the sidelines.”

“It’s just a guide for parents to follow so they go into the season not acting crazy,” he says. “In youth sports we really don’t need that. You want to build children up … and that’s really what the pledge says.”

Allen was in karate when he was little. Then he played basketball, football and baseball. He was a sports management major at Barton Community College.

“I really felt like sports helped me succeed,” Allen says.“I just love sports.”

He’s originally from New York state. Then Allen moved to North Carolina followed by Kansas where his physician parents – his mother is a plastic surgeon, and his father is an ophthalmologist – came to practice.

Kevin Allen and Susan Lovelle-Allen are co-franchisees with their son.

Allen says he’s in the marketing phase of the business now. Parents can sign up their children at www.i9sports.com. There’s also an in-person signing Feb. 1 at Craftapalooza & Fabulous Vintage Market at Century II.

Though much of his dream is coming true, Allen says since the franchise isn’t Christian based, “I’m not going to do the God part.”

He hopes to in the future, though, through a different business than i9 Sports.

“That’s going to give me the background to maybe jump into doing something on my own.”

Profinium Inc. files foreclosure suit against Real Development

UPDATED — Minnesota-based Profinium Inc. has filed suit against Real Development and its principals, Michael Elzufon and Dave Lundberg, to foreclose on a few pieces of property they own here.

“It’s not nearly as icky as it might sound,” Elzufon says.

“Profinium’s great people,” he says. “We have a very long … and very good relationship with this bank.”

At issue are portions of the Petroleum Building at 221 S. Broadway and Broadway Plaza at 105 S. Broadway.

“We owe more than they’re worth,” Lundberg says.

Elzufon says the filing is mainly about one thing for Profinium.

“They need to protect their interests.”

Also, he says, it’s “for us to continue to make our exit out of various assets that we’ve had down there.”

Lundberg says there are liens and a couple of mortgages on the properties.

“In order to clean up the title, they’re going to foreclose on it,” he says. “It’s all worked out, but they filed it anyway. Their attorney jumped the gun a little bit.”

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You don’t say

“It’s not the happy thing you’re thinking of.”

– City planner Jess McNeely referring to “vacation,” which is the elimination of restrictions on property

Abuelo’s inching closer to west-side deal

WICHITA — Abuelo’s, the Mexican restaurant chain that opened at the Waterfront in April 2004, is working on a deal for west-side space.

“It’s been a good market for us,” Abuelo’s director of marketing Melanie Carroll says of Wichita.

She says the Lubbock-based company is always looking for growth opportunities and believes Wichita could sustain two Abuelo’s restaurants, but she won’t share details beyond that.

Landmark Commercial Real Estate president and CEO Brad Saville, who represents Abuelo’s in Wichita, says the chain is eyeing three west-side sites and hasn’t yet determined where it will go.

Other sources, though, says Abuelo’s is getting closer to a deal at a site near the Kellogg and Ridge Road corridor not far from where the new Twin Peaks is going to open.

Earlier this month, Have You Heard? reported that Twin Peaks, which already has an east-side site, is going to open at 7325 W. Taft. It will be in a building across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread, which is south of Maple and Ridge.

The area is becoming a hot spot for restaurants such as Applebee’s, McAlister’s Deli, Chipotle Mexican Grill, IHOP and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers among others.

Look for more news on Abuelo’s in the months ahead.

River City Trolley & Charters to expand to Davis, Okla.

WICHITA — Not quite a decade after opening their trolley charter service in Wichita, Homer and Julie Price are ready to take their River City Trolley & Charters to another city.

“We get a lot of calls,” Homer Price says. “We’ve got a really good reputation for being great in the business.”

The chamber of commerce in Davis, Okla., most recently called.

“They wanted us to come,” Price says. “It kind of looks promising.”

Price says Davis is a small town that has a lot of tourist attractions around it, such as the Arbuckle Mountains, a large candy factory, a sizable campground and a zipline.

“They’ve got a lot of things.”

Price says tourist charters are the best kind because of the ease of collections.

“They step on, they pay, they step off.”

With events such as weddings, Price takes some money up front but then has to collect on the back end.

“We do weddings mostly,” he says.

The business also does shuttles for conventions. Price says he won’t take passengers bar hopping like some charters do, although he points out he has “nothing against bar hopping.”

The Prices try not to do any charters late at night.

“Our business has picked up every year,” Price says.

River City started with one trolley and now has three. Price expects to expand in Davis once he’s there.

“I’ll probably wind up with two trolleys, maybe three.”

It may not be until late this year that the Davis trolley service opens.

“Well, it’ll be a while,” Price says. “I don’t like to overload myself with finances.”

In addition to securing financing, Price says he has to find a place at which to do business. He says he thinks he found a building, and it happens to house a former coffee shop. He says he’d like to bring back the coffee shop in addition to starting the trolley service there.

Price says the Davis inquiry, among others, makes him think about expanding to other markets.

“I have given it some thought because I get so dang many calls,” he says.

“Our business has just worked out really well for us.”