Lawyer Abdul Arif buys Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — Abdul Arif swore he’d never do it again, but he’s getting back in the restaurant business.

Arif says he closed on a deal Wednesday to buy Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria in NewMarket Square and plans to make some changes, though incrementally, and expand with more restaurants.

Years ago, the lawyer says, he had a couple of Indian restaurants “that I lost my shirt on.”

The difference now, he says, is his tenant at Sutton Place, Gerard Rodriguez of Anna Murdoc’s Cafe, is going to run Avivo in addition to having an ownership stake in it.

“We made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, just like the pizza mafia guys do,” Arif says jokingly.

He says Rodriguez went to culinary school and has a passion for food.

“I’m not passionate about food like these guys who go to culinary school,” Arif says. “You can’t get them to shut up.”

Tony Suellentrop, whose family started Avivo, says other demands prompted the sale.

“We have a lot going on,” he says.

Read More »

Mayflower Clinic to move to Sutton Place

WICHITA — Two years after opening, the Mayflower Clinic is getting a home of its own in downtown’s Sutton Place and is expanding its services as a result.

The free medical clinic, which India native and Wichita attorney Abdul Arif and some friends founded to give back to the community, has been open on weekends at Douglas and Rutan where neurosurgeon Eustaquio Abay II has an office.

Abay and his wife, orthodontist Emeline Abay, donated the space. Arif says they’ve been exceedingly generous, but he wanted the clinic to be able to expand what it offers.

“We were looking to move so we can offer more services … on weekdays.”

The clinic saw more than 1,000 people in 2012.

“We had to do what we had to do in the beginning to get started,” Arif says. “The old model was the slapped-together-so-we-can-get-started model.”

The clinic will locate in 1,400 square feet at 209 E. William. Arif says there’s room to expand as well.

“Absolutely. That was the whole idea.”

Physicians will continue to donate their time for medical care on the weekends.

“The reason for our success is we’re open weekends,” Arif says.

He says many people can’t afford to take time off from work during the week.

“We try really hard to focus on the working uninsured.”

The clinic now will be open seven days a week and will offer mental health services during the week.

“We’re starting this big pitch to offer mental health services,” Arif says.

He says there’s a need for Spanish-speaking counselors and for counselors who can help patients who can’t afford the care.

“There’s a massive demand we found.”

Arif says it’s a timely decision with the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

“With these god-awful shootings … there’s such a renewed emphasis on mental health,” he says.

“We chugged along for two years, and now it’s time (to) move on up … and do more bigger and better things because the demand is so huge.”

Two Alterations By Sarah and Millers Dry Cleaners to add Golden Tuxedo rentals

WICHITA — Alterations by Sarah and Millers Dry Cleaners partners Abdul Arif and Craig Miller, who share locations, are expanding two of their businesses to include tuxedo rentals as well.

“The dynamics of having the tux business as part of the dry cleaners and the alterations is a perfect fit,” Arif says.

They’re partnering with Gary Golden who has Topeka-based Golden Tuxedo and Hygienic Golden Touch Cleaners.

“The dry cleaning business has had its ups and downs,” says JD Deines, who is with both Topeka companies.

Pairing with the tuxedo business can help the bottom line, he says.

Deines says he used to think the businesses are related like distant cousins.

“They’re actually more brothers and sisters,” he says. “It’s just worked really well.”

Deines says it’s important to measure a tuxedo correctly.

“That’s where … we found that this makes a lot of sense.”

Also, he says once a tuxedo has been rented, it has to go to a dry cleaners to be cleaned.

“It’s a good combination.”

Deines says the companies decided to share their story with other dry cleaners to expand the concept.

“So our first market that we chose is actually Wichita.”

Arif and Miller will renovate their stores at 1210 S. Rock Road and 10555 W. 21st St. to include a Golden Tuxedo at each shop.

Read More »

Red Barn owners to open Anna Murdoc’s Cafe downtown in Sutton Place

UPDATED — The Red Barn restaurant has been a popular place for Wichitans to visit on their way to Lake Afton. Soon, they’ll be able to get some of that cooking downtown as well.

Gerard Rodriguez and his family – including his father, Michael, sister, Belle, and cousin, Isaiah Hill – are opening Anna Murdoc’s Cafe in Sutton Place at Market and William.

“We’re given a really good opportunity to do some fun stuff downtown,” Gerard Rodriguez says. “We’ve got a lot of good ideas, a lot of talent.”

His whole family is helping ready the space, which used to be the Daily Grind.

Lawyer Abdul Arif and his partners in Dragon Estate, a group that purchased the first floor of Sutton Place earlier this year, also are partners in the restaurant and will help promote it.

Rodriguez at one time worked for Cargill doing process analysis of soybean cooking oil “and got bored out of my mind.”

Then he went to culinary school. He’s trained as a pastry chef and a sushi chef.

“And now I’m doing barbecue, Mexican and breakfast out in a barn,” Rodriguez says. “It’s been a crazy, crazy journey so far.”

Read More »

Dragon Estate investors buy floors in Sutton Place and Broadway Plaza and plan more purchases downtown

WICHITA — What started as a real estate search for a law office has led Abdul Arif to become a new investor in downtown along with several of his friends and business associates.

The members of the group, who operate under the name Dragon Estate, are Asian immigrants.

“This is our home,” Arif says of how they now view Wichita. “This is where we believe in.”

The other investors are Mui Nguyen, who owns Roof Mechanics; Vinh Le, a Boeing engineer; and Tariq Azmi, a systems engineer with CGF Industries.

“This group of guys (is) who I normally hang out with,” Arif says. “They’re always looking to do something.”

Boeing has told Le he has to move to Seattle. He doesn’t want to, though, so that’s part of the group’s motivation.

“They’re looking for investments and things to keep him here,” Arif says.

So far, they’re investing in downtown one floor at a time.

“Someone told us there’s a good deal at Sutton Place,” Arif says of the building at Market and William.

Real Development owns several floors there. Two floors that others own are in foreclosure.

So far, Arif and his associates have purchased the first floor of Sutton Place.

Arif says he’s in negotiations to buy the foreclosed floors as well.

Once the group has more floors, its plan is to develop residential condos there.

That’s also where Arif will move his Arif & Haeri law office.

Arif says the first floor of Sutton Place will remain office space. He’s also in negotiations for a new restaurant to move into the former Daily Grind space on that floor.

“I’m supposed to sign a lease fairly quickly.”

All About Business, a marketing and consulting firm, also is moving its office there.

Read More »

Alterations by Sarah and Millers Dry Cleaners expand their retail partnership

WICHITA — Some small businesses struggle to compete against big chains, but Alterations by Sarah and Millers Dry Cleaners have found a way around that.

“This is kind of a neat little concept how mom and pops have banded together,” says Alterations co-owner Abdul Arif.

The companies share space near 21st and Maize and Kellogg and Greenwich and are preparing to merge their third and fourth sites.

It’s what Arif calls a strategic partnership to reduce overhead, improve customer service and co-brand to increase their market presence.

“You know, it’s worked out really good,” says Craig Miller, who owns Millers with his parents, Betty and Danny.

“We think it’s a neat little . . . business model,” he says.

The Millers’ first venture with Arif was in 2001 near 21st and Maize.

Arif was looking for west-side space, and he couldn’t find anything less than about $30 a square foot, which he says was too high for him.

The Millers were looking for a new store then, too, and Arif suggested sharing retail space.

Then, in 2008, they moved together near Kellogg and Greenwich.

Now, the Millers at the Cherry Creek shopping center at Harry and Rock is moving across across the street to the Alterations space at 1210 S. Rock Road. Millers will open there March 1.

Next week, Millers will open at the Alterations space at McConnell Air Force Base.

“Anyone that has to . . . open a retail (store) knows the expenses involved with doing that,” Craig Miller says. “Just the sheer square footage cost of rental and utilities.

“We’re able to cut that in half.”

Read More »