Daily Archives: Feb. 5, 2014

You don’t say

“I have a voice for newspaper.”

– Maize superintendent Doug Powers in a Facebook comment about how he’s glad it’s not his voice on the school’s recorded message about cancellations

Phil Ruffin buys Florida oceanfront property sight unseen, but it’s no joke

UPDATED — There are a lot of jokes about waterfront property in Florida that someone would like to sell you sight unseen.

The oceanfront property that billionaire Phil Ruffin purchased in December – without even looking at it – is no joke on him, though.

“We went down there and looked at it at New Year’s, and it’s a beautiful piece of property,” Ruffin says. “It’s a luxury property.”

The price may be even more attractive. Ruffin paid $6 million for 500 feet of oceanfront property on almost 12 acres in Vero Beach for which the previous owners paid $17.5 million.

“It was a bargain,” Ruffin says. “Someone took an $11 million hit.”

There used to be a Radisson hotel on the property, but it was torn down after a storm.

“Once that happens, you have to start over again,” Ruffin says of rezoning for potential hotel use.

He’s going to go through the rezoning, but Ruffin says he isn’t sure what he’ll do after that.

He might build a new hotel.

“Or we might flip it.”

Ruffin, who owns Treasure Island in Las Vegas and the Wichita Marriott on Corporate Hills Drive, says he likes investing in land.

“I’d rather have land than money right now,” he says. “Money’s not worth a lot. It’s very hard to invest our money and make anything off it right now. The interest rates are so low that money markets are not good, and stock markets are a little bit jumpy, so land is a pretty good investment right now in hot areas.”

So, ah, what are those hot areas that perhaps the rest of us may invest in?

“Well, Florida’s real good, and Vegas is getting better, and Wichita’s not bad,” Ruffin says.

“I like my little hometown. I’m not sure they like me, but I like them.”

Verizon Wireless converts NewMarket Square store to Smart Store

WICHITA — The newly expanded Verizon Wireless at NewMarket Square opens Thursday with a new concept.

“We are opening what we call a Smart Store,” says spokeswoman Brenda Hill.

“We’ve really completely redesigned the customer experience inside the store,” she says. “Now the way the store is organized is … really focused on the way that customers use wireless.”

Only 100 of Verizon’s 1,700 stores across the country have this concept so far, and this will be the first one in Wichita and second one in Kansas.

“This is a big deal for us to have one of the first,” Hill says.

She says an employee called an experience specialist will greet customers when they enter the store.

“A lot of times customers come in the store, and they really don’t know what they need,” Hill says. There’s a lot “that they don’t know wireless can help them with.”

She says that might include ways to save money on home energy or devices to measure fitness goals.

The store will have four major zones to cater to various needs.

Read More »

Longtime favorite Brints Diner to reopen

brintsdinerWICHITA — Brints Diner is once again going to reopen.

Larry Bud’s Sports Bar & Grill founder Larry Harmon is taking over the business, which is near the northeast corner of Lincoln and Oliver.

The restaurant is in one of Wichita’s last remaining Valentine buildings, which are metal, mobile diners that Wichita’s Valentine Manufacturing built between 1938 and 1971.

The more than 50-year-old Brints closed in late 2012, but then about this time last year, Neighbors Restaurant & Bar owner Chuck Giles and his girlfriend, Connie Schrader, reopened the business. Running two restaurants proved to be too much, so building owner Homer Morgan found someone else to run Brints. Then it closed again last month.

Harmon, a Mississippi native, says a diner has “been in my thoughts for a while.”

“I just always wanted a diner,” he says. “When I was a kid down South, my dad used to take me and my four brothers to this diner where you could get sausage biscuits for 10 cents a piece. I thought it was cool.”

Harmon says his sports bars are doing well.

“The kids are running … those,” he says of his children. “And so I thought, why not? Let’s do something fun and different, so here we are.”

Harmon says he was a Brints customer from “back in the day.”

He plans to reopen Monday. Hours will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“We are going to serve a killer chicken fried steak and eggs and some good burgers and some shakes and malts,” Harmon says. “We’re going to fire it up and do it to it.”