Contractor Larry Cook files mechanics lien against YO-B owner Nabil Bacha

WICHITA — Contractor Larry Cook has filed a mechanics lien against YO-B owner Nabil Bacha for $87,882.

On the advice of his attorney, Cook says he won’t comment, but Bacha has plenty to say.

“The construction was embarrassing,” Bacha says of Cook’s work on the new Old Town Square restaurant, which opened in February in the former Luca Italian Kitchen space, which previously was Uptown Bistro.

Bacha, who also owns Cafe Bel Ami, says it took Cook “seven months to do four walls” during which time he saw three other area restaurants either renovated or opened.

“I don’t know why that’s such a hard time for him to do. Maybe he should not be in the construction business to start with.”

Cook’s attorney, Frank Ojile, doesn’t address specific claims by Bacha, but he says that “basically, we deny his claims.”

“My client hasn’t been paid, and we filed the mechanics lien, and I probably won’t have further comment … because of possible future litigation.”

Bacha says renovating the space for YO-B, a burger and yogurt restaurant, was supposed to be an $80,000 project and was to be completed by Oct. 15.

Cook “never delivered,” Bacha says.

“I had to have him redo so many things that were wrong,” he says. “Nothing was going right.”

Bacha says he paid almost $79,000 and then Cook told him he needed more money. Bacha says Cook kept changing the amount.

Bacha says he pointed out issues with the bill, and he says Cook told him he would take care of them. Instead, Bacha says, he got the lien.

“All of a sudden, that’s what I saw.”

In addition to saying he doesn’t owe Cook anything more, Bacha says he lost a lot of money due to the delays, and he’s left disillusioned with the process.

“I’m professional. I have never been through something like this.”

YO-B still opening in Old Town Square

WICHITA — Cafe Bel Ami owner Nabil Bacha is still planning to open YO-B in the former Luca Italian Kitchen space in Old Town Square, but when?

“Good question,” he says.

Bacha says he’s no closer to naming an opening date than when he announced the venture in August.

First, he thought the gourmet burger and yogurt business would open in mid October. When that didn’t happen, Bacha predicted mid November. That’s not going to happen, either.

“I would hate to tell anybody anything because I already failed twice,” Bacha says.

He says a reasonable guess would be December.

“Things are going very slowly right now.”

Bacha says he has many things on order.

“We’ve taken everything out, and we’re redoing everything.”

Yo-B diners will have the option of ordering from a kiosk. Bacha says he’s trying to be trendy and appeal to young customers.

“It is just a simple concept,” he says.

Opening, though, is not so simple, and that’s why Bacha says “it’s just kind of scary to pinpoint a date.”

Aflac regional office moves from west side to O’Rourke Title Building downtown

WICHITA — The regional Aflac office has moved from the west side to 2,010 square feet at the O’Rourke Title Building at William and Broadway.

“We just wanted to get downtown,” says regional manager Kathy Wiedemann.

She says part of the reason is to have a more centrally located office, but also, she says, there’s “just a little bit more energy downtown.”

Not to mention there’s also the Cafe Bel Ami factor. The restaurant is located on the building’s first floor.

“You know, we just got done eating lunch there,” Wiedemann says of her first day in the new office on Monday.

“It’s just so convenient,” she says. “It’s fun being down here.”

Tony Utter of Utter Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

Wiedemann says there’s been extensive remodeling and painting in Aflac’s new suite except for her office, which once belonged to Pat O’Rourke of O’Rourke Title.

“I’m sitting right now in his old office,” Wiedemann says. “I didn’t touch his office because I just like it the way it is.”

She says it has old, wood paneling.

“It might sound kind of ugly, but it’s really not,” Wiedemann says.

“Imagine all the deals that went on back in the day when he was in here,” she says. “So it’s kind of neat to be in his office.”

Luca Italian Kitchen closes; YO-B to open

UPDATED — Melad Stephan has sold his Luca Italian Kitchen.

Another downtown restaurateur, Nabil Bacha, took possession of it this afternoon.

“We wanted to bring something a bit different,” says Bacha, who owns Cafe Bel Ami at 229 E. William.

He considered doing something possibly called Bel Ami Bistro, which would have been similar to Stephan’s popular Uptown Bistro that was at the entrance to Old Town Square before Luca.

Bacha decided that’s too much like what is already in Old Town, though.

“They’re all competing against each other,” he says of sit-down restaurants there. “There’s just too many.”

Bacha decided to go another route with yogurt, custard and one really, really tasty burger, which he says will be similar to the popular In-N-Out Burger on the West Coast.

The name is tentatively YO-B, for yogurt and burgers.

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Cafe Bel Ami resolves its lawsuit over parking at the O’Rourke Title Building

UPDATED — Cafe Bel Ami’s parking situation at the O’Rourke Title Building finally is resolved, although so far no one is sharing details.

Restaurant owner Nabil Bacha filed a lawsuit against his landlord at the building at 229 E. William after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Through an e-mail, Simon Palmer Properties says there’s now “an amicable resolution,” although president Troy Palmer won’t elaborate on it.

Bacha didn’t return calls for comment, but his attorney, Harry Najim, says, “It is a fair and equitable resolution of the lawsuit.”

The Simon Palmer e-mail regarding the resolution says: “The building owners are pleased to have one of Wichita’s Finest Downtown Restaurant as a long-term tenant.”

Go! Steaks and Cafe Bel Ami owner Nabil Bacha is working on a new project

WICHITA — Some west-siders were disappointed when Nabil Bacha closed Go! Steaks near 21st and Tyler, but there’s hope for the future.

“The concept might resurface, but not anytime soon,” Bacha says. “I’m already deep into a different project. I don’t know if I can do two at the same time.”

Bacha, who also owns Cafe Bel Ami downtown, started Go! Steaks seven years ago to sell and deliver steaks and sides. He hoped to create a chain.

He’ll revisit the concept after getting his next project off the ground. Bacha isn’t sharing details about it yet.

“It’s kind of still … hush-hush.”

There’s little Christmas cheer in the parking lot at Cafe Bel Ami downtown

WICHITA — The parking situation still isn’t resolved at Cafe Bel Ami.

Cafe Bel Ami owner Nabil Bacha recently filed a lawsuit against his landlord at the O’Rourke Title Building at 229 E. William after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Simon Palmer Properties president Troy Palmer, who manages the property, said he hoped to have the situation resolved in a matter of days. That was in late October.

“Tell him Christmas is coming, too, OK?” said Bacha’s attorney, Harry Najim, at the time.

Najim was successful in getting a restraining order that forced Palmer to remove the reserved signs. The situation was only temporary until a hearing last month.

As Palmer says, “Yes, Christmas is coming, and the signs are back up.”

Metro Grill IV a possibility for downtown

WICHITA — At long last, Michael Gonzalez is looking to bring his Metro Grill downtown.

“Since Day 1 at the mall, they’ve been asking me to come downtown,” he says of customers from his Metro Grill stand at Towne East Square. “They’re dying for us to go downtown.”

In addition to the mall location, Gonzalez has a sit-down Metro Grill at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb Road, and another restaurateur has Gonzalez’s former Metro Grill in Andover.

The downtown location, which would be close to Cafe Bel Ami near South Broadway and East William, isn’t official yet.

“This is not 100 percent,” Gonzalez says.

He says he’s only in talks with a developer, who approached him.

“If it’s a sweet deal, I’ll take it.”

Cafe Bel Ami owner sues landlord and property manager over parking

WICHITA — The owner of Cafe Bel Ami is in a parking dispute with his landlord and the company that manages the O’Rourke Title Building at 229 E. William, where the downtown restaurant is located.

Nabil Bacha filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court after reserved signs were placed on certain parking spots that he says his customers have a right to use.

Harry Najim, Bacha’s lawyer, says his client has nonexclusive use of the entire parking lot during certain hours and that reserved signs hinder that.

He says customers “don’t want to go in the restaurant and come back and find their car gone.”

Troy Palmer, president of Simon Palmer Properties, says he can’t discuss the dispute much beyond saying that there is one.

“We really hope to have it resolved before Friday,” he says. “We’re still kind of negotiating.”

There’s a temporary restraining order that forced Palmer to remove the reserved signs for now. A hearing is set for Friday.

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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.

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