‘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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PB&J Restaurants considers Burnt End BBQ for Wichita

WICHITA — Kansas City-based PB&J Restaurants, the company that brought YaYa’s EuroBistro and Newport Grill to Wichita, is looking to possibly bring a new concept as well.

“It’s our new barbecue concept,” says PB&J’s Paul Khoury.

Burnt End BBQ opened three weeks ago near 119th and Metcalf in Overland Park.

“It’s fast casual,” Khoury says. “It’s doing well.”

If it remains successful, he says that “just like we always do, next stop is Wichita.”

“Wichita’s a great restaurant town. People like to eat out in Wichita.”

Khoury says there are good income levels here to support restaurants.

“Look at how many restaurants that have come out of Wichita, too,” he says of chains such as Pizza Hut and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.

PB&J, which no longer owns the YaYa’s here, debuted its Newport Grill seafood concept here.

It’s now opening another Newport Grill on May 1 at the new Prairiefire development on West 135th Street between Nall and Lamar avenues. The restaurant will be one space down from where Wichita’s Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates is opening its new store.

Newport Grill has “just been very successful in Wichita,” Khoury says.

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‘Til We Meet again obtains license to sell Vatican caskets, urns, grave markers and memorial products

WICHITA — If a business person would like to do business with the Vatican, is it as easy as calling up and asking?

Almost. At least that’s how it seemed to go for Nathan Smith and Traci Smith-Cone of ’Til We Meet Again, the casket store at Towne West Square that’s turning into a national chain.

The day after Thanksgiving, Smith says he and Smith-Cone signed a deal with the Vatican for Vatican-licensed merchandise.

“We are the only source for retail for all Vatican caskets, urns and memorial products throughout the United States,” Smith says. “It’s been something we’ve been working on for quite some time.”

Another company used to have the exclusive license, he says.

“That company that was doing that fell on some hard times and bad management and are no longer in existence,” Smith says.

When he heard that, he says he called the Vatican to inquire about the license.

“Through a lot of negotiations and talks, we thought it brought a lot of value to have that license from the Vatican,” Smith says. “It’s going to be a pretty big license for us.”

The company is in the process of working with the Vatican and several manufacturers on developing lines for caskets, urns, grave markers, jewelry and keepsakes.

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Sports Fan Room to open at Chisholm Trail Center-Outlet & Retail Shops

WICHITA — Sports fans soon will have a new reason to shop at Chisholm Trail Center-Outlet & Retail Shops.

David Glass is opening his Sports Fan Room, which has been an Internet-based sports apparel and memorabilia business for the last five years, in the Newton shopping center.

“I knew this business was not going to grow until I got into a brick-and-mortar,” Glass says.

He says a storefront also allows for more products because some suppliers deal only with retail locations or a combination of retail and online businesses.

The store will carry NCAA apparel and memorabilia along with items from the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball teams and NASCAR.

“We’ll probably have one of the largest product mixes of NASCAR around the area,” Glass says.

He’ll continue Internet sales as well.

The store will have a 5,000-square-foot showroom in the front and 5,000 square feet of storage for the Internet business in the back.

Glass likes that Chisholm Trail is along Interstate 135 with lots of traffic.

“Chisholm Trail knew what I was looking for,” he says. “Their prices are just extremely reasonable. They go the extra mile to help the new tenants.”

Look for the store to open sometime in early November.