Sasnak Management closes 17 Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants — none in Wichita — in repositioning move

UPDATED — No Wichita Carlos O’Kelly’s are affected, but Wichita-based Sasnak Management has closed 17 of its Mexican restaurants in order to reposition the company.

“It’s been gut wrenching,” says president Jon Rolph.

However, he says, “We have 22 strong locations moving forward.”

Rolph says some of the company’s restaurants across nine states were too big, some weren’t in the right places, and all weren’t performing as well as the ones the company is keeping.

“That’s where these decisions were born out of,” Rolph says. “We just decided to face the pain all at once rather than just drip, drip, drip.”

Rolph says he’s looking a decade out in his planning.

“We said, you know … let’s make the hard decisions and set this company up so we can pour our money into where we’re growing. I know it’s strange to hear that when you’re closing stores it’s part of your growth strategy … but that’s true in this scenario.”

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Abuelo’s inching closer to west-side deal

WICHITA — Abuelo’s, the Mexican restaurant chain that opened at the Waterfront in April 2004, is working on a deal for west-side space.

“It’s been a good market for us,” Abuelo’s director of marketing Melanie Carroll says of Wichita.

She says the Lubbock-based company is always looking for growth opportunities and believes Wichita could sustain two Abuelo’s restaurants, but she won’t share details beyond that.

Landmark Commercial Real Estate president and CEO Brad Saville, who represents Abuelo’s in Wichita, says the chain is eyeing three west-side sites and hasn’t yet determined where it will go.

Other sources, though, says Abuelo’s is getting closer to a deal at a site near the Kellogg and Ridge Road corridor not far from where the new Twin Peaks is going to open.

Earlier this month, Have You Heard? reported that Twin Peaks, which already has an east-side site, is going to open at 7325 W. Taft. It will be in a building across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread, which is south of Maple and Ridge.

The area is becoming a hot spot for restaurants such as Applebee’s, McAlister’s Deli, Chipotle Mexican Grill, IHOP and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers among others.

Look for more news on Abuelo’s in the months ahead.

Twin Peaks has west-side space, and it isn’t where anyone suspected

The west-side Twin Peaks will be on the north end of this building across Ridge Road from Carlos O'Kelly's and Panera Bread.

The west-side Twin Peaks will be on the north end of this building across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread.

WICHITA — There’s been a popular guessing game of where the west-side Twin Peaks might go. As it turns out, it’s not opening at any of the spots most people thought it might.

Franchisee Rusty Rathbun considered most of those sites, but he’s settled on 7325 W. Taft instead.

“It’s been overlooked from a retail perspective,” says Dan Unruh of InSite Real Estate Group.

The building, which is across Ridge Road from Carlos O’Kelly’s and Panera Bread, was built as office space that most recently was home to American Family Insurance.

Gallery Expressions will be Twin Peaks’ neighbor to the northwest across a parking lot, and the Lowe’s at Maple and Ridge Road is just north of that.

“This one kept coming up as a great site if we could just make the building work,” Unruh says.

InSite is part of South Ridge LLC, a group that purchased the 16,800-square-foot center where Twin Peaks is going.

Rathbun says he seriously considered about 15 properties before deciding on the Taft site.

“It works because of the traffic count and all the number one restaurants in the area,” he says.

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You don’t say

“He said we could bring one thing to the table that no one else could. Lunch.”

Jon Rolph, the emcee at the Business Leadership Network of Sedgwick County kickoff lunch on Thursday, on county Manager Bill Buchanan asking Carlos O’Kelly’s to be the group’s lead employer

Costco may be close to a Wichita deal

WICHITA — Wichita, you just may get your wish for a Costco — maybe even relatively soon — though how close the company is to a deal depends on who you talk to.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, which sells bulk items similar to Sam’s Club stores, has been eyeing Wichita again.

“I came to the market to look at the market on a macro basis,” says co-founder and executive chairman Jeff Brotman. “I didn’t like anything I saw.”

Brotman says that “without disclosing our deepest, darkest secrets,” he can say that the locations he looked at didn’t fit with the way the market moves, meaning its natural trade areas.

“I have a mild interest,” Brotman says. “I’m interested in everything, right? . . . It’s just hard to focus on things that aren’t burning priorities.”

That’s not how others tell it. According to them, Costco is close enough to a deal that a 2013 opening isn’t out of the question.

Even Brotman says, “Let’s just assume it was true: I wouldn’t tell you about it. Even after we get a property under control, we don’t talk about it until after we have permits.”

In summer 2010, The Eagle conducted a poll of what businesses Wichitans would like to have in the city.

Costco narrowly lost the top choice to Cheesecake Factory.

“I was a little disappointed that we came in second,” Costco co-founder and then-CEO Jim Sinegal joked at the time. “I’ve got to be prepared to deal with these little disappointments in life.”

Costco has previously been close to at least one other deal here, and Sinegal said a finalized deal is simply a matter of the company giving Wichita some attention.

“Meaning . . . we get off our butts and go take a look,” he said. “At any point and time, we probably have 100 different sites we’re looking at.”

Sources say several sites have been under consideration over the last six months or so.

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Tweet of the week

“Must have heard how good they are : -)”

— A Twitter post by Jon Rolph (@jonrolph) of Carlos O’Kelly’s on how Billy Joel requested one of the restaurant’s burritos during a break in his concert at Intrust Bank Arena Wednesday night

You don’t say

“I was a little feisty about it.”

Jon Rolph of Carlos O’Kelly’s on how he felt when he pulled up to the chain’s east-side restaurant and saw that a new paint job included North Carolina Tar Heel blue on the tower (which since has been corrected to feature Riviera blue instead)