You don’t say

“Just a sign my wife can’t keep her hands off me.”

Small Business Awards Luncheon keynote speaker Jon Rolph, who is president of Sasnak Management and the father of four children age 5 and under

“I was curious if there were any auctioneers in the house because I might want to put my business up for sale.”

– Tier 1 award winner Brandon Wilson of Icon Structures, joking about Rolph’s inspiring speech to seize the day, do what you love and make time for family

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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You don’t say: Our favorites from 2013

Some were newsy, some were shocking, but most were simply fun or funny. Here are some of our favorite “You don’t say” quotes from 2013.

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“I said, ‘You must know a lot of angry people.’ (They) said, ‘I work at Spirit.’”

Best of Times owner Nancy Robinson on a person who bought 10 Dammit Dolls, the soft dolls angry people can safely slam on any surface to blow off steam on bad days

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“My first place that I am not going to get married at is the Grand Chapel.”

– Sedgwick County Chairman Jim Skelton, whose upcoming marriage to Stacy Luke won’t take place at the facility he sued over his daughter’s wedding

“That’s correct, he’s not.”

– Grand Chapel owner Dennis Wilkie, who says Skelton is “a troublemaker, and I just don’t want to deal with troublemakers.”

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“Women pilots don’t land at the wrong airport. We ask for directions!”

– A tweet from Seattle-based pilot Karlene Petitt (‏@KarlenePetitt) about the Dreamlifter incident at Colonel James Jabara Airport

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“Be aware, Boeing, ‘this route has tolls.’ Bring some change.”

– An NPR story that acknowledged a stranded Dreamlifter likely couldn’t be towed from Colonel James Jabara Airport to McConnell Air Force Base but offered a Google map and driving directions anyway

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“I thought I’d get in line right behind him.”

– Outgoing Chamber chairwoman Debbie Gann, who “about choked” at the group’s annual dinner Tuesday when possible mayoral candidate Jeff Turner suggested she would make a great mayor

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“I’m going to drop off a baked bean can and a string tomorrow … so we can chat later in the day.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers co-owner Scott Redler teasing City Council member Pete Meitzner about his antiquated BlackBerry

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“With all the crying and whining in Washington, I’m feeling ready to be a new father come November.”

– Expectant father U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder speaking Friday at the 2013 Congressional Summit at the Hotel at Old Town

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“We know you’re a Democrat.”

– Park City administrator Jack Whitson, teasing the city’s chamber president, registered Republican Dean Frankenbery, about a misprint that said Rep. Mike Pompom, not Pompeo, would be the group’s next speaker

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“I know you are all wondering if that beautiful new red car parked over there is a door prize. It’s not. It’s the speaker’s gift.”

Delta Dental of Kansas vice president of human resources Kara Hunt, speaking at the Chamber’s Sunrise Scrambler about a car that Davis-Moore had at the event

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“I thought that Davis-Moore . . . has been hurting so bad that they needed a sale, so I thought I’d help them out.”

– Car dealer Brandon Steven, joking about why he bought a Viper at his competitor’s dealership

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“I think it’s awesome that he bought himself a nice car.”

– Davis-Moore’s Dawson Grimsley, retorting with a teasing implication that Steven couldn’t find a nice car at his own lot

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“The @WichitaOrpheum could use a little Jesus after @RealTracyMorgan’s performance there. #itwaspurefilth”

— A tweet from comedian Ron Shively, aka @FunnyMrBiggs, after hearing City Life Church is going to rent the Orpheum Theatre every Sunday morning for services

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“Puppies and people all over town are sad today.”

—Accountant David Jabara on the death of Doggy Day Care owner Marilyn Walk

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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

Sasnak Management considers potential new concept in addition to Carlos O’Kelly’s and Applebee’s

UPDATED — Sasnak Management has operated a number of concepts through the years — including current brands Carlos O’Kelly’s and Applebee’s — and now the company is considering one more.

“I would say we are continuing a conversation that we’ve had for years,” says Jon Rolph, Sasnak president.

He says there’s nothing even close to firm yet.

“We’re maybe having that conversation more seriously than in years past.”

Sasnak has 39 Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants and 25 Applebee’s franchises in Iowa.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve done something new,” Rolph says.

He says the company has considered franchises through the years.

“We even took a run at buying a concept that we could franchise out a few years ago,” Rolph says.

“What really has our interest these days is to develop something we could grow internally and have control over.”

Rolph says with the experience and knowledge within Sasnak, that makes sense.

He says the company is “exploring it a little more intentionally.”

“Who knows where it will lead?”

You don’t say

“I think he’s been in the kitchen all day.”

Chamber Honors Night emcee Jon Rolph on John Clevenger of Commerce Bank, which sponsored the dessert reception after the awards

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.

Read More »

Neighbors say goodbye to John Rolfe and hello to Jon Rolph

WICHITA — Former Go Wichita CEO John Rolfe may be heading to a new job in Houston, but there still will someone by the same name living in his northeast Wichita house.

It’s simply spelled differently.

Jon Rolph, president of Sasnak Management, is buying John Rolfe’s house.

Jon Rolph says their real estate agent handled it brilliantly.

“She’d call one John Rolfe and then hang up and call the other Jon Rolph and then hang up and call the other John Rolfe,” he says. “That had to have been a heck of a place to be.”

The two have been friends since Jon Rolph returned to Wichita a decade ago. He made a point to meet John Rolfe. In addition to becoming friends, the two shared each other’s mail through the years, and their assistants came to know each other because people would call to make or cancel plans with one of them when really they wanted the other.

When Jon Rolph heard John Rolfe is leaving to become chief operations officer for the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, he told his friend he didn’t have to go.

“John, the town’s big enough for both of us.”

Jon Rolph is sorry to see Rolfe and his wife, Felicia, leave Wichita. He also feels for his future mailman, who will have to bring him his mail and forward John Rolfe’s.

“For the mailman to try to keep that straight … I don’t know how he’ll do it.”

 

Intrust Bank Arena proves to be a test kitchen for Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe

WICHITA — Intrust Bank Arena has proven to be a good test kitchen for Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Cafe.

Jon Rolph says dishes prepared at his family’s chain of restaurants usually take about seven-to-10 minutes of prep time.

“When you’re at an arena, you’ve got to do it in about 20 seconds.”

That’s what led to the invention of the Baja Chicken Wrap.

“We played around with a bunch of different (dishes), and this rose to the top,” Rolph says.

“We were really surprised at how many people would be at the arena and then come in (our restaurants) and request it.”

So now, the wrap will be on the Carlos O’Kelly’s menu along with the cilantro lime rice that’s used to make it.

“I wouldn’t be surprised . . . if we don’t discover some new opportunities,” Rolph says of other menu items born at the arena.

The wide range of customers helps, he says.

“You get to see rockers, you get to see country music lovers and hockey moms all in one place throughout the year.”

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