Hassan Ballout to open Albero Cafe in former Bocconcini Italian Eatery space

WICHITA — A new Italian restaurant is opening in the former Bocconcini Italian Eatery space near Central and Oliver, and many Wichitans will recognize the owner.

“I’m going independent,” says Hassan Ballout, who has been at Bella Luna Cafe on East Central for a decade.

“I’m going to open my own little show.”

Ballout is Lebanese, but he says, “I love Italian food.”

He plans to call the restaurant Albero Cafe.

Ballout says “albero” means “tree” in Italian.

“My last name, Ballout, means oaks, an oak tree,” he says.

Also, Ballout says, his daughter and niece like the name, so that won over some others he was considering.

In addition to working at Bella Luna, Ballout has also worked for the Hyatt Regency Wichita and Latour Management.

“You can only grow so much with any company,” he says.

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Sleep Number to open at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — A new Sleep Number store is opening at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road this summer.

The 2,500-square-foot store will open in the former Verizon Wireless space in the same center as Bella Luna Cafe.

Verizon expanded to part of the University of Phoenix’s former space. That’s in the same building as Kay Jewelers and Scottrade.

Sleep Number is part of Select Comfort Corp. of Minneapolis.

April Reed of Slawson Cos. handled the deal.

Look for more information closer to the store’s opening.

Verizon Wireless to expand at NewMarket Square and Tallgrass Centre

WICHITA — Verizon Wireless is expanding two of its Wichita stores, which both happen to be at Slawson Cos. properties.

The chain has a new store under construction at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road, where there has been an expansion boom of late.

“We’ve had a lot of stores over the last couple of years that have expanded,” says April Reed, who handled the Verizon deals.

That includes expansions by Maurices, Personally Yours, Hallmark and Starbucks.

“We’ve been on a roll in terms of tenants expanding,” Reed says.

Verizon currently has 2,500 square feet in the same building as Bella Luna Cafe. In the first quarter of 2014, it will be moving to 5,200 square feet and taking most of the University of Phoenix’s former space. That’s in the same building as Kay Jewelers and Scottrade.

“It’ll be an updated space,” Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Hill says of the store.

Reed says there are 1,400 square feet of the former university space left to lease.

At Slawson’s Tallgrass Centre development on the southwest corner of 21st and North Rock Road, Verizon is expanding as well.

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Loft to open this fall at Bradley Fair

WICHITA — Finally, Bradley Fair can reveal the reason behind its game of musical chairs, business style.

Loft is coming to the center at 21st and Rock Road this fall.

“We have been working with them for quite some time,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development.

“It’s been one of our most-requested stores,” she says. “We do listen, and we do appreciate when our customers give us their … input on what stores and restaurants they would like for us to have at Bradley Fair.”

Formerly known as Ann Taylor Loft, the women’s clothing store is something of a hipper younger sister to Ann Taylor. There are 500 of the stores nationwide.

The store will locate between Talbots and Bella Luna Cafe where Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry and College Hill Cleaners are vacating.

Randy Cooper’s is moving to where Howard’s Optique used to be. Howard’s moved from its freestanding space to new space between Sephora and Jason’s Deli in the first round of moves to prepare for Loft.

College Hill Cleaners is moving to where Origins used to be.

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Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry and College Hill Cleaners to move within Bradley Fair; new national retailer coming soon

WICHITA — The latest round of musical chairs — business style — is almost over at Bradley Fair.

“The first piece of the puzzle was moving Howard’s Optique, which we did at the end of last year,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president at Laham Development.

Howard’s moved from its freestanding space to new space between Sephora and Jason’s Deli.

Now, Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry is moving into the freestanding building that Howard’s left. Amy’s Hallmark shop already is there.

Cooper’s impending move has been one of the worst-kept recent retail secrets, but now that it’s happening, she’s eager to talk.

“I am so thankful that George Laham has given me this opportunity,” she says of the center’s developer.

“I probably wouldn’t have stepped out on my own and done it,” Cooper says. “It just makes it so much more convenient for our customers to visit.”

Her new space will be 4,000 square feet, which is about 20 percent more than what she has now.

“So we can grow and be a better store and offer new lines and offer more of some lines that we have,” Cooper says.

College Hill Cleaners also is moving. It’s taking 1,300 square feet where Origins used to be and will have a new after-hours box for customers to drop off items needing cleaning.

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Olives & Pitas to open in former Red Mesa Grill space on North Tyler

UPDATED — He’s not planning “Grilled Cheez” for the menu, but Kababs owner Syed Jillani finally is ready to open a restaurant in the former Red Mesa Grill space at 756 N. Tyler.

Jillani moved his catering business, Wichita Private Chef’s Catering, into the space four years ago. Three years ago, he announced plans to open Grilled Cheez to serve a combination of American and European food.

He says the economy forced him to put those plans on hold. Now, Jillani has decided to open Olives & Pitas, a Mediterranean restaurant, there instead.

That’s even though the economy still isn’t where he’d like it to be.

“It’s too long, me sitting on this building for three years,” Jillani says. “I need to change my thinking based on the market needs.”

He says there’s no Mediterranean food in the area except for Bella Luna Cafe near 21st and Maize.

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Southeast corner of Central and Oliver ready for development, including a restaurant

WICHITA — It’s been a long time coming, but developer Christian Ablah has acquired an entire city block on the south side of Central near Oliver and is preparing the property for development.

“I’m just basically preparing this for future development,” says Ablah, a broker with his family’s Classic Real Estate.

“I’m just trying to clean up the area,” he says. “The project’s taken a lot longer than I thought it ever would.”

Ablah is close to a deal with a restaurant that would go in the former Dillons store on the southeast corner of the intersection.

There’s talk that it could be a certain Mexican restaurant looking to expand.

“I can’t do the guessing game, but I can tell you it is a sit-down restaurant,” Ablah says.

Part of his demolition of nearby duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes is to make room for parking for the restaurant.

“All the demolition will be complete in a couple of weeks,” Ablah says.

He says any new development will complement what Nathan Toubia is doing with his Bocconcini Italian Eatery next to the former Dillons.

Ablah hopes to close on the restaurant deal in a couple of weeks, but he’s working on other leases as well.

“There’s a lot of demand right now for office — large office space — as well as retail,” Ablah says.

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Fresh Fruit Bouquet Co. to move to College Hill Plaza

WICHITA — After five years in Piccadilly Square at Central and Rock, Trish Jasnoski is moving her Fresh Fruit Bouquet Co. to College Hill Plaza.

That’s the 14,000-square-foot center where Bella Luna Cafe is on East Central.

“I just think it would be a big advantage for us to have that street presence,” Jasnoski says.

Her current store is behind another business, she says.

Jasnoski thinks the walk-in traffic will be better, too.

“There will be a lot more people than where we’re at right now.”

Jasnoski sells fresh fruit and vegetable bouquets, chocolate-dipped fruit and smoothies. At her new space, she’ll add self-serve frozen yogurt and toppings.

She’ll have two yogurt flavors to start.

“I’m really excited about that,” Jasnoski says.

She hopes to be in her new space by the first of July to capitalize on yogurt sales.

Adam Clements of Builders Inc. handled the lease.

“Now that is fully occupied,” he says of the center.

Clements says Fresh Fruit Bouquet is a great addition to College Hill Plaza.

“The recipe of tenants we have over there is really complementary to each other.”

Clements says the 100 percent occupancy is a good sign in what’s been a difficult retail market.

“That’s kind of a glimmer of light.”

Flying Donuts to open Wednesday on East Central

WICHITA — Nothing says Thanksgiving like a doughnut.

OK, maybe that’s not the case, but Tricia Davis says opening her new Flying Donuts the day before Thanksgiving isn’t a bad idea.

“We’ll provide breakfast,” she says. “A lot of people won’t be cooking breakfast.”

The shop is opening next to Bella Luna Cafe on East Central.

In addition to doughnuts, Davis will serve croissants, sandwich croissants and kolaches.

Hours are 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week except, of course, on Thanksgiving.

Flying Donuts to open on East Central by Bella Luna Cafe

WICHITA — Tricia Davis is yet another laid-off worker who is reinventing herself in the food industry.

Davis had been an engineer at LSI for eight years when she was laid off more than a year ago. Since then she’s been mulling a doughnut shop.

In November, she’s opening one next to Bella Luna Cafe on East Central.

“It’s going to be called Flying Donuts because we’re in Wichita, and we wanted to capture the Air Capital City of the World. We wanted to support Wichita.”

The mascot will be a flying doughnut with wings.

The business will be in 1,200 square feet between Bella Luna and State Farm.

Davis will have a limited amount of seating.

She’d hoped for a drive-through, but she couldn’t find a suitable spot.

Davis likes the traffic in that area and being by Bella Luna.

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