Smoothie King and two other businesses to open in former Rock Island Depot space

UPDATED — Some people buy sports cars or take extravagant trips for their midlife crises, but Neil Bhakta is choosing to share his with all of Wichita by opening three new businesses.

The Smoothie King partner is planning his fourth Smoothie King site, this time downtown in the former Rock Island Depot, where he also plans a new restaurant and venue space.

“This is going to be my midlife crisis project right here,” Bhakta says.

“I love the building that we’re going into.”

Old Town Martini, which was the last business there, closed in 2009.

Occidental Management purchased the building earlier this year as part of its purchase of the Union Station campus. The company plans a mixed-use development, which will have retail and office space and possibly residential as well. Smoothie King is the first announced tenant.

“It’s good to get the first one done,” says Chad Stafford, Occidental president. “We’re excited to get rolling down there.”

Stafford thinks Smoothie King will do well.

“It’s going to do terrific,” he says. “Certainly there’s a lot of traffic. … That site, as it begins to develop and get rolling, we’ll have a lot of visitors to it.”

Bhakta says Occidental will restore the exterior of the building.

“It’s going to be a nice project.”

It’s one he says he previously wouldn’t have even considered.

In the dozen or so years of having Smoothie King, Bhakta says, “We never looked at downtown.”

That’s even though he grew up in the area.

“We actually left,” Bhakta says. “Downtown in the ’90s, we didn’t have much faith in it … coming back.”

That’s what has happened, though, he says.

“What they’ve done downtown is amazing.”

Read More »

Global PDR Solutions goes local with work at three new Wichita sites

WICHITA — After traveling the world, the owners of Wichita-based Global PDR Solutions are now going to concentrate on paintless dent repair and other work here.

“Basically what we’ve always done is just traveled and chased hail storms,” says Brian Patton, who is partners in the business with Hamendra Bhakta and Scott Dietz. “We just never concentrated or focused our energies here.”

That’s changing in part, Patton says, because “we’re starting to get a little older.”

The company is opening three new Wichita sites.

That includes a 1,600-square-foot corporate office at 764 N. Tyler, which is near Central and Tyler, that will have room to pull a car into for quick work.

“We can fix it right on the spot,” Patton says.

Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal for the space, which Global PDR Solutions will move into this weekend.

A second site opened four weeks ago at 5600 W. Central, which is on the northeast corner of Central and I-235.

And four years after buying a 3,000-square-foot building downtown at 160 N. Kansas, the company has now opened there as well. Hail storms had kept the owners too busy to do it before now.

Patton says next the partners want east-side space.

“We’ve got our eye on a nice big building out there.”

Patton says their plans include more than hail repairs for the new shops.

“Our ultimate goal is to open them up as body shops in the near future.”