Category Archives: South side

Oliver’s Little Italy to close Saturday; owner may reopen new restaurant

UPDATED — Scott Cosentino is closing his Oliver’s Little Italy on Saturday.

He says the restaurant at 1930 S. Oliver, which opened in late September, was in a bad location, had no money, no point of sale system and not very good help.

“Shall I continue?” he says.

Cosentino, a New Jersey native, hopes to open another restaurant soon with a financial backer. He says this time it may be in Wellington or Park City.

He says the one issue Oliver’s Little Italy didn’t have was a problem with the food, which Cosentino says he’ll prove once again when he reopens.

“I would show all of the restaurants of the town how to make good Italian food, because they don’t know.”

Hair Factor Barber Shop closes after 56 years; contents to be sold at auction

WICHITA — Janice Chambers is in the antiques business, but when it comes to selling the contents of her husband’s barbershop, she’s decided to let Hudson Auction handle it.

“He never threw anything away,” Chambers says of her husband, Don, who owned Hair Factor Barber Shop for 56 years.

“Oh, it was horrible.”

Don Chambers closed his barbershop after business March 21.

Most recently, the shop was at 1923 S. Hydraulic, although Chambers often made house calls for those who couldn’t visit him and volunteered to cut the hair of veterans.

Janice Chambers says it took three 18-foot trailers to move the contents for the April 6 auction. The 1 p.m. auction will be at 2009 N. Mosley.

There are all kinds of barbershop items for sale, including a couple of revolving barber’s poles.

“Everything under the sun you can imagine,” is how Janice Chambers describes what’s for sale.

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Sweet Willy’s Hillbilly BBQ to open on South Seneca

WICHITA — Insurance salesman Randy Hare has a number of inspirations for opening his own restaurant, Sweet Willy’s Hillbilly BBQ, near 47th and South Seneca.

“I got my roots from the Ozarks and from tasting the good Carolina barbecue around,” Hare says.

willy“Plus, my wife needed a job,” he says of his wife, Pam.

Hare has been the manager at City Life Cafe, where Youth for Christ kids have a chance to learn on the job, and he says he wants to offer them another place to do that.

The Hares are planning to open Sweet Willy’s at 4628 S. Seneca in about three weeks.

“It’s just going to be a little 30-seater,” Hare says.

He says they’ll also have catering, a drive-through and a food truck.

Hare plans to smoke the restaurant’s meat in front of the restaurant in view of passersby.

“If you’re down at the Sonic, you’re going to be able to smell my smoke.”

That’s part of his plan.

“You’ve got to have something.”

Hare says he’ll have smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs and a number of unusual offerings, such as traditional Poutine french fries with cheese curds in a brown gravy, inspired by Canadian partner.

Hare says he’s going to keep his insurance job as well.

“Unfortunately,” he says, “it’s against the law for me to give somebody a steak to buy a life insurance policy.”

Possible DCF lease on South Oliver may not be ‘at the goal line’

The U.S. Postal Service is vacating this building at 2601 S. Oliver, but whether the state Department for Children and Families moves in isn't as certain as it once was.

The U.S. Postal Service is vacating this building at 2601 S. Oliver, but whether the state Department for Children and Families moves in isn’t as certain as it once was.

UPDATED — In February, a state official told Have You Heard? that the Department for Children and Families was “at the goal line” for signing a deal for space that the U.S. Postal Service is vacating at 2601 S. Oliver.

Apparently, though, someone has moved the goal line. The players in the lineup may have changed, too.

“We’re still exploring all of our options and haven’t made a final determination on that yet,” says Theresa Freed, a DCF spokeswoman. “That is one of the options that we’re considering.”

That sounds a lot less certain than when Mark McGivern, director of the Office of Facilities and Procurement Management within the state Department of Administration, used the goal line analogy.

Does that mean the postal deal is less likely than it had been?

“I wouldn’t say that it is any more or less likely,” Freed says. “As a department, we don’t discuss contracts until they are finalized.”

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the Finney building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30. More than 550 of those employees are with DCF.

The city presented the state with what a state spokesman called “a very aggressive lease renewal offer” last summer, but the spokesman said DCF has needs the Finney building can’t fulfill.

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, has voiced concerns from the beginning regarding DCF and other agencies vacating the Finney building. He wonders what the holdup is now.

“That’s another concern in an ongoing series of concerns about how … good of a decision the move is in total,” he says.

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Despite appearances, Knipp’s still in business; Brandon Steven’s car wash isn’t

WICHITA — What looked to be the Knipp’s car wash on North Rock Road between 13th and 21st streets has closed, though it hasn’t been a Knipp’s for some time.

“Years ago it used to be ours,” says Todd Knipp. “For some reason they never took any of our signage down.”

Brandon Steven owns the car wash and says he had to close it to have more room for his Super Car Guys.

“We need the space so bad,” he says.

“It’s too bad,” Steven says. “I love that car wash.”

He’s referring customers to Joe’s Seat Cover & Carwash, which his uncles own.

There’s a Knipp’s store on Harry just east of Southeast Boulevard that sells automotive appearance products and also offers detailing services. It does not have a drive-through car wash, though.

“This year starts our 40th year,” Knipp says. “I hope to make it another 40.”

Boost Mobile and Big E’s Vapor Shop to open in center on South Seneca

WICHITA — The building that Aisak Corp. recently purchased at 3122 S. Seneca has a couple of new tenants that will be opening in the next week or two.

Boost Mobile is taking about 1,200 square feet for its fifth Wichita store.

“We don’t have anything in the South Seneca area,” co-owner Shumair Tanjwani says.

In addition to a lot of traffic in the area, Tanjwani says a lot of other mobile phone dealers are nearby.

“That’s why I decided to go there,” he says. “We kind of work off each other. It’s kind of like a mall. People go to one stop to shop for certain things.”

Traffic count also is what’s driving the owners of Big E’s Vapor Shop to open in about 1,700 square feet at the center.

“The traffic count is crazy high in that area,” says Sherri Hischke, who owns the business with Eldon Simmons and Dixie Zellner.

They also have stores near Lincoln and Rock Road and 21st and Tyler.

The stores sell vapor equipment, juice and cigarettes.

All Family Insurance is the only tenant currently in the South Seneca building. There’s still space left to lease there.

Dancing in Paradise to open in former Bingo Palace on South Hydraulic

WICHITA — Steve Trent enjoys dancing so much, his wife, Diane, encouraged him to make a career of it instead of operating heavy equipment as he had been.

“You’re getting too old to do that stuff,” Trent says his wife advised.

So the two are opening Dancing in Paradise at 2841 S. Hydraulic where the Bingo Palace closed late last year.

“My wife and I are dancers,” Trent says.

He used to host singles dances in Dodge City and also had a successful New Year’s dance party at the former Loyal Order of the Moose 138 space near Central and Zoo Boulevard, where they used to dance before it closed.

“We’re not really going to be a dance studio,” Trent says of his new business.

Nor is he going to be a club that’s open to the public.

“It’s kind of going to be halfway in between.”

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State close to deal for Department for Children and Families space on South Oliver

The possible future home of the Department for Children and Families.

The possible future home of the Department for Children and Families.

WICHITA — The state is close to a deal on new office space for the Department for Children and Families, the largest of the state agencies at the city-owned Finney State Office Building at 230 E. William.

DCF is considering the 96,000 square feet that the U.S. Postal Service is vacating at 2601 S. Oliver.

“It’s at the goal line is how I would describe it,” says Mark McGivern, director of the Office of Facilities and Procurement Management within the state Department of Administration. “We’re still working things out.”

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the Finney building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30. More than 550 of those employees are with DCF.

The city presented the state with what a state spokesman called “a very aggressive lease renewal offer” last summer, but the spokesman said DCF has needs the Finney building can’t fulfill.

“You kind of had a little bit of what I call a crowd-control issue,” McGivern says.

He says he wants to put “them in the building that they say they can be most effective in.”

“The agencies are my customers, and I try to put them in places that they say work best for them at the best possible prices for the state,” McGivern says. “We did this (with) the idea of helping the agency better serve their customers.”

The South Oliver building is on a bus line, and it’s a one-story building, which McGivern says is ideal.

“It’s much more I’ll say ready to go,” he says. “It’s much more conducive to what they say they need the way they have their programs designed.”

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Pirate Pete’s to reopen following retooling

WICHITA — Pirate Pete’s hasn’t walked the plank, but it’s not open right now, either.

“We decided, OK, it’s time for a change,” says Peter Miller, a partner in the business.

The restaurant at 1648 S. Rock Road, which is near Harry and Rock, has been through various owners, managers and incarnations through the years. Miller and partner Ken Gorges never intended to be restaurateurs.

“We’ve been the accountants … for 10 years almost,” Miller says. Their accounting office is across the street from the restaurant.

Various issues with the business led them to close it temporarily to remodel the building and retool the menu. They’ve also found some new managers and partners.

“I’m running a little ragged,” Miller says of running between the businesses. He expects Pete’s to reopen next week. He’s shooting for Feb. 18.

Miller says there will be new floors, new walls and a simplified menu.

“And once all that gets done, I’m just back to doing the books.”

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.”