Issa brothers buy Scotch & Sirloin

Scotch & Sirloin, 5325 E. Kellogg Photo by Megan True/ TheWichita EagleWICHITA — Mike Issa now confirms what Have You Heard? reported last month.

He and his brothers, Ty and Ali, have purchased the Scotch & Sirloin.

“The Scotch is the oldest institution in Wichita,” Mike Issa says.

There actually are older restaurants, but Issa says, “We really believe this is Wichita’s tradition restaurant. We would love to be part of it.”

The Issas officially take over Jan. 16.

The brothers first approached majority owner Lindy Andeel a couple of years ago about buying the restaurant, which is on East Kellogg between Oliver and Edgemoor.

“We got busy with other venues,” Issa says of the delay.

The Issas own Larkspur Bistro & Bar in Old Town, YaYa’s EuroBistro in Bradley Fair, Hereford House at Terradyne Country Club, Heat Cigar & Hookah Lounge near Central and Rock and some IHOP restaurants in Wichita and Emporia.

Mike Issa is going to be more of a presence at the Scotch than his brothers.

“I’m going to be at the Hereford House, too,” he says of where he generally can be found already.

Issa says he and his brothers are able to do so many restaurants with “great help” and a “great management team.”

Karl Bachman is the new general manager the Issas hired to work at the Scotch. He’s already there.

Longtime general manager Sonny Glennon is still there, too.

“He’s still part of the whole package with us,” Mike Issa says.

Whether Glennon is still a co-owner in the business is unclear. Glennon referred questions to Issa, and Issa says only, “He’ll be working with our team 100 percent.”

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Scrap Management of Kansas opens to public with Wichita and Park City sites

WICHITA — After already serving industrial clients in the area, Scrap Management of Kansas opened to the public Monday.

The division of Kansas City-based Midwest Scrap Management is in the former Cargill space at 29th and Mead.

“We’re actually a little bit bigger than your … ma and pa stores that you see,” says Ken Mueller, CEO of the Kansas division.

He says the 20-acre former Cargill site is ideal because the lot is concrete, which makes deliveries more convenient, and has rail service.

“It’s really a great receiving yard for our business.”

Also, Mueller says, “We can access the consuming markets very easily out of here.”

Mueller says the company already has about $2 million worth of equipment ready to go, “which allows us to be in business quickly.”

The company will have another 80 acres in Park City in the 45th and Hydraulic area.

“We’re going to make our largest investment up there,” Mueller says.

There will be an auto shredder business there by the end of the summer at the latest. Mueller expects the company to make a $15 million to $20 million investment in Park City.

“We expect to expand into the Oklahoma City market as soon as we get this one well under way.”

The company also operates in St. Joseph, Mo.

The Kansas division has five employees now, but Mueller expects to have as many as 70 in a short period.

“Our goal is to ramp up as quickly as we can.”

Sullivan, Higdon & Sink lands Sonic account

WICHITA — “Route 44s for everyone!”

That’s how one Sullivan, Higdon & Sink employee heralded the news on Facebook that the agency landed Sonic as a client.

“It’s a great start for the new year,” says Lathi de Silva, vice president and director of brand reputation.

The agency’s Kansas City office will handle what’s called below-the-line communications for the chain’s 3,500 drive-ins nationwide. That includes in-store communications and any communications on Sonic lots. It also includes menu boards and any localized marketing for specific stores.

“We’re really building … what we call our food value chain practice,” de Silva says.

She says the agency serves clients from farm to fork on the food chain, such as Cargill and Borden Cheese.

“It’s just good for everybody to have these kinds of brands in our backyard,” says Sam Williams, SHS managing partner.

Though most of the work will be done in Kansas City, he says the Wichita office will offer support.

“Every time you win a national brand, it’s just huge when you’re a small, independent agency,” Williams says. “The thrill of winning never changes no matter how many times you’ve done it.”

He says the agency’s food connection goes back to the days it did print work for Pizza Hut when it was headquartered in Wichita.

“A farm-to-table strategy is very much in our DNA,” Williams says. “It’s been part of what we like to do for a long time.”

Ben Arnold behind on taxes but says it’s not nearly as much as the IRS claims he owes

WICHITA — After taking care of some tax trouble he had with Corporate Caterers of Wichita a few years back, Ben Arnold hoped to never be behind again. He is, though, and he’s as forthright as ever about it.

“I do owe taxes,” Arnold says. However, he says he doesn’t owe anywhere close to the approximately $250,000 the IRS says he owes.

“If I did, I would be in Mexico right now. That would just be an obnoxious amount you would have to owe for a period that covers 12 months.”

Arnold believes he owes only about a third of what the government says he owes. The issue, he says, is the IRS says it didn’t receive documentation from him.

“They assess a tax if they don’t have documentation in front of them,” he says.

Arnold says his accountant had sent proper documents and that he personally has now sent them a second time.

“That’s why I’m really, really frustrated.”

Arnold rapidly expanded his BLA Enterprises with catering at Comotara Center and two corporate cafes, Cafe 151 at Cargill and Cafe Intrust at Intrust Bank. He also owns AVI Seabar & Chophouse, which he opened late last year in the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview.

“When I started this expansion, most of (the businesses) worked. A couple did not,” Arnold says. “We hit a very large pothole, and we’re filling it in.”

The largest pothole is AVI.

Arnold says in AVI’s first two months of business in 2011, it lost $75,000.

He says it was like “if you just popped a balloon, everything fell out.”

By August, Arnold says losses were down to $1,900.

He says September and October were profitable, and he believes AVI can be an almost $1 million-a-year business.

“We’ve grown to like it.”

Arnold says he now owes less than $16,000 on the business’ taxes.

He says another issue is the unprofitable banquet facilities he has in 9,000 square feet at Comotara.

“That’s one part of the business I’ve got to do something with. … I love my location, and I don’t want to leave it.”

Arnold says his catering is doing well and is on track to gross between $3.2 million and $3.3 million this year.

He says the cafes also “are extremely healthy.”

Arnold says it’s a “long, drawn-out process” getting tax discrepancies corrected, and while he’s frustrated, he’s not fazed despite the fact that he and his wife have used personal savings to cover some debt and have paid themselves almost nothing throughout the year.

“No one plans to fail,” Arnold says. “Any small business has struggles. You do what you’re supposed to do. … I don’t see this as a huge obstacle for me to overcome.”

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.”

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Caterer and restaurateur Ben Arnold adds another cafe to his menu

WICHITA — Apparently a catering business, five hotel and military base banquet operations, two cafes and a restaurant aren’t quite enough to keep Ben Arnold busy.

So, as of Monday, he’s adding another cafe to the lineup.

Arnold will now operate Intrust Cafe at the Intrust Bank building downtown. It’s a private cafe that mostly serves bank employees along with some tenants in the building.

The approximately 3,000-square-foot cafe is a bit bigger than Cafe 151, which Arnold runs at the Cargill building downtown. That’s open to the public, as is Cafe Comotara, which Arnold has at Comotara Center at 29th and Rock Road.

“I won’t put any kids through college with the money I make off of these cafes,” he says. “It’s all about the partnership of just two great organizations that are based here in Wichita.”

There are many more partnership opportunities he receives, Arnold says.

“I get approached constantly.”

Arnold says he tries to be strategic about which deals he accepts. He thinks the Intrust Bank connection potentially can lead to more catering for his Corporate Caterers of Wichita.

Isn’t it all a bit much, especially since his new A.V.I. Seabar & Chophouse at the Drury Plaza Broadview just opened Monday?

“No, not at all,” Arnold says. “You surround yourself with great people, and you can do anything.”

Ben Arnold’s Corporate Caterers of Wichita to open Cafe 151 at Cargill headquarters

WICHITA — Ben Arnold confirms what Have You Heard? reported last week: He’s taking over the restaurant operation at Cargill’s Wichita headquarters where Piccadilly Express used to be.

Which leaves one big question for the guy who has already taken on new headquarters for his Corporate Caterers of Wichita and struck a deal to do the restaurant and catering at the Broadview Hotel and still has his catering space at Douglas and West:

Is he a crazy man?

“It’s not as big as it seems,” Arnold says of taking on one more thing.

The new restaurant will open in mid-November or early December.

It will be called Cafe 151 for its address at 151 N. Main.

The cafe will be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for breakfast and lunch.

All breakfasts will be $4 or under, and all lunches will be $6 or under.

Arnold says his agreement with Cargill will allow him to serve food at reasonable prices.

“It’s a two-way street,” he says.

“I have a long-term relationship with Cargill. I’ve been catering for them for the last 10 years. They know me very well.”

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Ben Arnold of Corporate Caterers of Wichita may take over Cargill restaurant space

WICHITA — It’s really hard to believe, but Ben Arnold may be taking on another venture.

The owner of Corporate Caterers of Wichita has taken on a lot in the last year, such as expanding the space at his Douglas and West headquarters, leasing a large, new space at Comotara Center and signing a deal with the Broadview Hotel.

Now, Arnold may be Cargill’s top choice to take over the restaurant space at the company’s Wichita headquarters at 151 N. Main.

“I am very interested in the space, and would love the opportunity,” Arnold says.

“I have not signed a contract on the space, so to confirm this information would be premature.”

Piccadilly Express had been operating at the building for 13 years but last month was told it didn’t make the cut in Cargill’s decision about future food services.

The restaurant closed immediately.

Look for news on Arnold’s possible deal soon.

Piccadilly Express at the Cargill building downtown closes

WICHITA — After 13 years in the Cargill building downtown at 151 N. Main, Piccadilly Express has closed.

“Last Friday, Piccadilly was notified that they were not going to make the cut for those being considered to provide food services here in the building,” says Cargill spokesman Mike Martin.

“They were given three weeks’ notice and basically given the notice as soon as it was decided they would not make the cut, and they ceased operations immediately.”

No one with Latour Management, which owned the restaurant, returned calls for comment.

This is the latest restaurant in what has become the dismantling of a dining dynasty in Wichita.

Latour’s Chelsea’s Bar & Grill and Olive Tree Bistro were evicted from Comotara Center late last year.

The west-side Piccadilly closed in 2005.

The east-side Piccadilly and Bagatelle Bakery are the only restaurants Latour has left.

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Avenue Style to return to Garvey Center

WICHITA — Avenue Style is returning to the Garvey Center, where it used to be years ago.

The salon currently is in Cargill’s Wichita headquarters at 151 N. Main.

Cargill needs the space, though.

“Since we’ve been open 37 years downtown . . . we decided we better stay in the same area,” co-owner Keith Shaw says.

He says the salon is taking 3,300 square feet on the first floor of the Page Court building.

“We’re going to have a brand new look,” Shaw says.

“It’s going to be very elegant, let’s just put it that way. We’re spending lots of money.”

The salon will open in the new space May 4.

Piccadilly Express also has to vacate its space at the Cargill building, but Piccadilly owner Latour Management is negotiating with Cargill to move into the Avenue Style space.

Cargill wants to keep a food-service provider in the building and is getting close to a contract with Latour.