‘Wichita’ is Tampa Bay Rays code word

WICHITA — In a Fox Sports story online Thursday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is quoted as saying, “I never served time in Omaha, but I have in Wichita.”

Though that may not sound like a good thing, Maddon apparently meant well, and Wichita gets a great plug in the story.

Much like Peyton Manning used the word “Omaha” to signal certain plays in football, the article says Maddon is now using “Wichita” as a “code word to signal that a call should be challenged as part of Major League Baseball’s expanded replay.”

Joe Maddon, right, is using Wichita as his code name for MLB replay challenges.

Joe Maddon, right, is using Wichita as his code name for MLB replay challenges.

“Omaha and Wichita, kind of almost in a perverse way, rhyme,” Maddon said.

The article says the Wichita code is “a tip of the cap to his past.”

Maddon was involved in the National Baseball Congress World Series, which is held in Wichita, as a player and a coach and has been inducted into its Hall of Fame.

The article says baseball has a “soft spot throughout Wichita’s history,” in part due to the NBC. It quotes a few Wichitans about the code connection.

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You don’t say

“I’m like, are you kidding me? Do you know what you have?”

Go Wichita president and CEO Susie Santo telling the downtown Rotary club her reaction when people ask why she would leave Hollywood for Wichita

Kansas Dance Academy owners are new operators of Crown Uptown Theatre

Ray and Diane Gans (left) and Matthew Rumsey are the new operators of the Crown Uptown Theatre.

WICHITA — Ray and Diane Gans, who have owned the Kansas Dance Academy for 26 years, are the new owners and operators of the Crown Uptown Theatre.

Last month, Have You Heard? reported that an undisclosed group made an offer to Karen Morris, who for 31 years ran the theater near Douglas and Hillside with her late husband, Ted.

“We’ve just kind of always been involved in the theater,” says Diane Gans, who will be the artistic consultant.

Ray Gans, who will be director of operations, has a band called Oncall and is the son of Jeannie Park Gans, who had been with Phil Spitalny and His All-Girl Orchestra in New York City in the 1940s.

Gans and his siblings sang professionally with their mother while growing up.

“We were the von Trapps of Wichita,” he says.

Jeannie Park Gans and her brother, Robert C. Park, are partners with Ray and Diane Gans in the Crown Uptown along with Scott and Lisa Ritchie.

“They’re just big supporters of the arts and want this to continue on with the Crown,” Ray Gans says.

The group is operating as Crown Partners.

Matthew Rumsey, an actor and former manager with Melad Stephan’s Empire Restaurant Management, is the executive artistic director and the food and beverage director.

Brian Mangers, a chef at the Candle Club, also will be the chef for the Crown Uptown.

Their first show is “White Christmas,” which will open Thanksgiving weekend.

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Cabela’s to open in 2012 at Regency Lakes shopping center at 21st and Greenwich

WICHITA — Cabela’s, the Nebraska-based giant national outdoor retailer, is coming to Wichita’s Regency Lakes shopping center at 21st and Greenwich in spring 2012.

“Cabela’s can go to any city in America, and they decided to come to Wichita, America,” says George Laham, president of Laham Development, the Regency Lakes developer.

“That says a lot about Wichita.”

Construction on the 80,000-square-foot store will start this summer.

“Competition is good for everybody,” says Todd Barker, manager of competing Gander Mountain at downtown’s WaterWalk development.

“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing,” Barker says of Gander Mountain, which is one of the chain’s highest-producing stores.

Gander Mountain opened at WaterWalk in 2005 after an effort to lure Bass Pro Shops fell apart over public financing of the project.

City Council member Sue Schlapp was involved in trying to lure Bass Pro.

“I am a person who believes downtown is your center,” she says.

Still, Regency Lakes is in her district, and she’s thrilled Cabela’s is going there.

“Cabela’s is a fabulous attraction,” Schlapp says. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

She doesn’t quibble with the chain’s selection of northeast Wichita over downtown.

“If they feel that that’s a better place for them . . . who am I to tell them something different?”

Cabela’s, which was represented by Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate, will locate along K-96 north of the 20,000-square-foot World Market at Regency Lakes. There will be room for a 50,000-square-foot retailer between the stores.

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Smashburger chooses SHS for brand help

burgerWICHITA — Denver-based Smashburger has hired Sullivan Higdon & Sink as its agency of record for its Wichita and Tulsa markets.

“We have more work to do to develop the brand in the Wichita market,” says Smashburger founder Tom Ryan.

He says the Smashburgers at 3570 N. Woodlawn and in Derby are “doing fine.”

“All restaurants can do better,” Ryan says.

“I don’t think we opened that market as strong as we opened other markets,” he says. “That’s why I wanted to get some fresh eyes on the brand.”

He likes SHS for several reasons.

“We used them years ago when I was with Pizza Hut,” Ryan says.

Also, he says, “They had a great history of bringing new brands to the Wichita market.”

He particularly likes how SHS helped Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau launch its new brand with a mix of traditional and social media.

He hopes to use both for his restaurants as well.

“I would expect to see a resurgence of the Smashburger brand in Wichita,” Ryan says.

Fabulous Salon and Gifts to open at WaterWalk Place

WICHITA — It’s been a long time coming, but WaterWalk Place is getting a new tenant.

Hair stylist Tami Dugan is opening Fabulous Salon and Gifts in 1,100 square feet at the north end of the building.

“This is a great opportunity,” Dugan says.

She’s been at Epic Hair Styling and Barber in the Epic Center for more than 20 years.

“I’m just venturing out on my own now,” Dugan says.

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