Ribbit Computers owner to start chain of fast casual Mediterranean restaurants

WICHITA — Alex Harb has good news and bad news, depending on your perspective.

Last fall, the Ribbit Computers owner and new Golden Corral franchisee told Have You Heard? he was considering bringing Jack in the Box to Wichita.

He’s decided not to do that, but Harb instead is going to open a fast casual Mediterranean restaurant in September.

Meddys will open in the former Jimmy’s Egg space at Harry and Rock.

“I believe that there’s a need for a fast casual Mediterranean food,” Harb says. “It’s not fast food.”

Meddys, which is kind of a nickname for the Mediterranean, will serve chicken and beef shawarma, kabobs, salad, hummus and falafel. Harb says meat will be off a spit.

“There’s nothing like it in town,” he says. “It’s extra work.”

Harb says he’s purposely keeping the menu simple.

“We’re not trying to be everything for everyone.”

Harb, who entered the restaurant business with a Raymore, Mo., Golden Corral earlier this year, says he plans to do four Meddys in the Wichita area over the next five years.

“Everybody is leaning towards the healthier food,” he says.

That’s part of the reason Harb says he decided to do Meddys instead of Jack in the Box.

“There’s plenty of places that are serving just hamburgers and tacos and everything that Jack in the Box serves.”

Harb says he likes the traffic around Harry and Rock.

“It’s pretty good exposure,” he says. “I think this location will do very well.”

Done deal: Jimmy’s Egg to open by Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

WICHITA — He’s still working on some city permitting, but otherwise Wink Hartman Sr. has a done deal for a new Jimmy’s Egg to open in the same building as Tanya’s Soup Kitchen.

“We’ve already demolished the space,” Hartman says. “We think we’ll for sure be open in September.”

In early May, Have You Heard? reported that Hartman wanted to put his fifth Wichita Jimmy’s Egg in Phil Ruffin’s Sunburst Plaza at 1725 at the southeast corner of Douglas and Hydraulic.

Hartman previously said he thinks there’s room for another breakfast and lunch place in the area, where the Donut Whole is also across the street.

“After that, we are looking at the possibility of downtown Topeka and possibly Emporia,” Hartman says. “We’re going to take a hard look at downtown Topeka.”

He says a breakfast-and-lunch concept makes sense for the state’s capital, where there may be more workers in the area in the morning and around lunch than later in the day.

Hartman may not be done with the Wichita area either.

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Wink Hartman Sr. hopes to open Jimmy’s Egg near Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

WICHITA — Businessman and Jimmy’s Egg franchisee Wink Hartman Sr. is looking to open one of the restaurants in the same building as Tanya’s Soup Kitchen in the Sunburst Plaza at 1725 at 1725 E. Douglas.

“We are looking at a location there, and hopefully we’ll be moving forward to have a Jimmy’s Egg there in the near future,” he says. “We’re trying to slowly move towards the downtown.”

Hartman says he thinks there’s room for another breakfast and lunch place in the area, where the Donut Whole is also across the street.

“It’s an underserved market for the type of menu we present,” Hartman says. “We serve ample quality food for the price.”

Hartman isn’t ready to commit to downtown yet, but he’s interested – and not necessarily for a restaurant.

“I’ve always had an interest in downtown,” he says. “I grew up here, and downtown is an unfortunate situation with all the empty storefronts. There’s a lot of empty storefronts going up and down Douglas. Has been for 40 years.”

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Brothers Brad and Brent Steven sue Mike’s Wine Dive co-owner Whitney VinZant

WICHITA — The relationship among the partners of Mike’s Wine Dive has, to put it in the parlance of the College Hill bar and restaurant, taken a dive.

Brothers Brad and Brent Steven are suing co-founder Whitney VinZant and several other people associated with the almost 2-year-old business near Douglas and Hillside.

“We all agree that the restaurant doesn’t work with all these cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, so we need to part ways,” Brad Steven says. “Either he takes full ownership or we take full ownership, and the lawsuit is to figure that out.”

The three have been friends since high school.

VinZant, who also now owns Gaslamp Grille & Lounge, had previous restaurant experience with Old Chicago and Jimmy’s Egg. The Steven brothers have bar experience through Club Indigo, which they still own, and Backstage Bar and Grill.

The three opened Mike’s Wine Dive in spring 2010. There’s a dispute over who owned what percentage when the business opened and who owns what now.

“There’s too many operating agreements,” Brad Steven says. “Everything is screwed up.”

VinZant says the brothers have a “disregard for the changes we tried to make.”

“We tried to put in place, you know, a more robust inventory management system,” VinZant says. “I’m not going to speculate as to why or how, because frankly I don’t know, but I do know that our costs on both food and beverage costs were really high. We weren’t running the profitability levels that we should be running there.”

The Steven brothers have been gone from the restaurant for a couple of weeks. VinZant says they’d like to buy him out, but he doesn’t want to sell.

“He never really is in town, so I’m not really sure who’s operating the restaurant,” Brad Steven says.

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Ciao Italian Kitchen to open in former Press space at the Waterfront

WICHITA — After almost 30 years of working in the restaurant business for others, Guillermo Perez-Munoz is opening his own place in the former Press space at the Waterfront.

“Why not?” he says, not allowing the previous failures of Piztros, Sabor and Press to deter him.

“We can analyze them — all of them,” Perez-Munoz says of why those businesses didn’t work.

The key, he says, is keeping his focus on food.

“In this area, it’s about families.”

So he’s opening Ciao Italian Kitchen, a 130-seat restaurant that will feature what Perez-Munoz calls the ultimate comfort food.

“We are an Italian kitchen first and foremost,” he says. “Every home is designed around the kitchen, so that’s what we’re doing.”

An extensive menu will include Italian favorites such as pizza, calzone and lasagna along with items such as surf-and-turf dishes.

Perez-Munoz isn’t planning any dishes from his native Puerto Rico, but he says as the business progresses he’ll probably “put some flare into it and bring some crazy pastas.”

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Wink Hartman Sr. closes his Knolla’s Pizza and plans a new Jimmy’s Egg

WICHITA — Wink Hartman Sr. has closed one restaurant and is opening another.

His Knolla’s Pizza on East 21st Street just east of 127th Street East closed earlier this week.

Hartman had an agreement with Knolla’s founder Pat Knolla to open the business three years ago.

“It didn’t meet projections,” Hartman says. “Due to the lousy economy and the way Congress can’t do their job, there’s no reason to keep fighting it.”

So what would have happened if the Republican had won his bid for Congress?

“I’d be standing on the biggest soapbox I could find,” Hartman says. “How can you afford to continually spend more?”

Hartman’s Jimmy’s Egg franchises are doing well, so he can afford to do plenty more. He already has six here and one in Houston.

His latest Jimmy’s will open in front of Max Cole’s Office This development at 4031 E. Harry within three months.

Hartman also is looking to further expand in Houston and Kansas.

“I’m trying to create jobs.”

Clear Lakes Cafe looks like it will become a Jimmy’s Egg

WICHITA — There was a brief little mystery at Clear Lakes Cafe this week.

The restaurant on West 21st Street just west of Amidon didn’t open for normal business on Monday. A sign advised customers that a credit card machine was broken and that on Tuesday the restaurant would be closed for inventory.

An informed restaurant source said restaurants don’t close in the middle of a month to do inventory. He speculated that the restaurant would be getting a new owner, and it looks like he’s right.

A sign on the door now says the space will be home to Jimmy’s Egg.

No one with Jimmy’s Egg or Clear Lakes could be reached for comment.

Sport Clips Haircuts to open at Tallgrass Centre

WICHITA — Monique and Roger Haynes-Robertson already have one of the most successful Sport Clips Haircuts franchises in the country at NewMarket Square, and they think they’re going to have another winner by opening a new salon at Tallgrass Centre at 21st and Rock where Papa John’s Pizza used to be.

“We’ve been thinking about it since we opened the west store,” Monique Haynes-Robertson says of an east-side store.

The Haynes-Robertsons also have one in Derby.

Monique Haynes-Robertson says the Jimmy’s Egg at Tallgrass Centre is doing well there.

“That piqued my interest.”

She likes that it’s near Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods, too.

The sports-themed salon caters to men and boys only.

“It’s a busy intersection and a lot of traffic, so I think it’s ideal,” she says.

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South-side Jimmy’s Egg in question

WICHITA — The future of the proposed fifth Jimmy’s Egg at 47th and Broadway is uncertain.

“We had been negotiating what I would consider in very good faith for months and months, and the other party is delay, delay, delay,” says Wink Hartman Sr. “It’s just been a disaster.”

Hartman says he still loves the location, but he’s not sure if it will ever work out.

“We can’t get anybody up the chain to salute the flag. It’s like talking to yourself in the mirror.”

Mike’s Wine Dive to open in former Caffe Posto space

WICHITA — Coffee and sandwich sales weren’t enough to keep Caffe Posto open near Douglas and Oliver, but new owners are hoping wine and food will be a hit.

Jimmy’s Egg franchisee Whitney VinZant and some undisclosed partners plan to open Mike’s Wine Dive in the former Posto space by March 1.

They’re also taking the Hair Connection space next door for a total of 2,650 square feet.

That business, which is still open, lost its lease after 24 years.

“I’m really sad to see Hair Connection go,” says James Smits, who owns Aspen Boutique and bought the center three years ago with his wife, Monica.

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