Espanola, New Mexico, theater makes 12th theater property for Mitchell Theatres

WICHITA — Brian Mitchell regularly drives between his family’s New Mexico theaters in Taos and Los Lunas, so he couldn’t help but notice the Dreamcatcher 10 theater in Espanola, N.M.

“Actually, there’s a stoplight right there,” he says. “I had to sit there and look at it.”

He and his family, who own Mitchell Theatres, considered buying it but thought someone else beat them to it. Then, they discovered that deal fell through.

“That’s when we jumped in on it.”

The family now owns the 10-screen theater, which makes its 12th theater property. This makes the fourth theater it has purchased from Storyteller Theatres.

“When you drive by something every time, it was like, OK … we’ve got to see about buying this thing,” Mitchell says. “That’s the farmer in us, I guess. You pass a piece of ground … .”

The family, including Mitchell’s siblings Brent, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas, is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton almost seven years ago and has been steadily acquiring new theaters ever since. The family also owns the Chisholm Trail Center-Outlet & Retail Shops in Newton.

Read More »

Butler Community College inducts new members in Mid-America Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame

WICHITA — Butler Community College’s Mid-America Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame awards were at the Hyatt Regency Wichita Thursday night despite swirling dust storms outside.

“Our (weather) guys, they’re blaming it on Nebraska,” joked emcee Michael Schwanke of KWCH, Channel 12.

Former Butler baseball coach B.D. Parker introduced Rising Entrepreneur winner Justin McClure of Justin McClure Creative.

“I’m still scared of that man,” McClure said upon taking the stage.

A couple of Dustrol employees introduced Business Entrepreneur winners Ted and Barb Dankert, who founded what today is the largest in-place asphalt recycling company in the country.

“When I went to work for Ted in 1979, I didn’t have gray hair,” vice president Brian Hansen said. “I don’t know what that tells us.”

Ted Dankert said he’d hoped to have a couple of teleprompters to help him with his speech.

“I got to checking on it but found out they were all tied up till November 7.”

After his remarks, his wife teased him by saying, “I don’t know if you noticed or not, but Ted took up all our speaking time.”

She had some words of advice for the audience before she left the stage.

“Get in your cars, buy lots of gas and drive lots of miles, and wear out the asphalt as quick as you can, and Dustrol will have work to do next year.”

Perhaps the most intriguing comment of the night came from KT Wiedemann Foundation president Doug Pringle, who accepted the Social Entrepreneur award on behalf of the organization.

Read More »

Mitchell Theatres buys Colorado theater

UPDATED — On the heels of entering New Mexico to expand its chain of theaters, Mitchell Theatres has now added a fifth state: Colorado.

The company purchased Skyline Cinema in Dillon, Colo., an eight-screen theater that serves the Summit County resort community. That includes Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Frisco, Copper and Dillon.

This makes 11 theaters and 81 screens that the Mitchell family owns. The family, including Brian Mitchell and his siblings Brent, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas, is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton six years ago and has been steadily acquiring new theaters ever since.

The Colorado acquisition was completed the Monday after the July 20 shootings in an Aurora theater, which is about 80 miles from the Dillon theater.

Brian Mitchell says while he was in Colorado for the purchase, he drove to Aurora to visit a memorial to the victims.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Mitchell says. “Your heart goes out to the families, but it’s also inspiring because you’d visit with people around the memorial.”

He says he contacted each of his family’s theaters regarding security after the Aurora shootings. Mitchell said he instructed managers to hire extra security officers if they felt they were needed, and some did. He says the theaters are still allowing costumes at shows, but not full masks or fake weapons.

“You didn’t want to eliminate the experience of dressing up for Batman, but you want to make everybody feel safe.”

Read More »

Mitchell Theaters buys two more theaters

WICHITA — What Brian Mitchell once described as a hobby is clearly anything but just for fun.

Mitchell Theaters has purchased two more theaters: the 7-screen Storyteller Cinema in Taos, N.M., and the 8-screen Starlight Cinema in Los Lunas, N.M. That brings its total to 10 theaters with 73 screens in four states.

“This hobby has gotten out of control,” Mitchell says, laughing.

The Mitchell family – which includes Brian Mitchell and his siblings Brent, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas — is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton six years ago and has been steadily acquiring new theaters ever since.

Now is an ideal time to buy theaters, Brian Mitchell says, because of Hollywood’s requirement that all theaters convert to become digital.

“The digital conversation really has the industry in chaos,” Brian Mitchell says. “It created an opportunity for us.”

Read More »

Occupational Safety & Health Administration to move to Bank of America Center

UPDATED — The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is going to open an office in the Bank of America Center at Douglas and Broadway.

“We’re real excited about having them,” says Chris Ruffin, director of real estate for his father Phil Ruffin’s Ruffin Properties.

OSHA, which is taking 6,500 square feet on the fourth floor, signed a 10-year lease.

Grant Tidemann and Marty Gilchrist of J.P. Weigand & Sons helped with the deal.

“They were a lot of help,” Chris Ruffin says. Government deals “are very complicated.”

Martin Pringle also recently signed a 10-year extension on its lease at the Bank of America Center. The law firm has the entire fifth floor, which is about 35,000 square feet.

When Phil Ruffin bought the building in 2006, it had a 52 percent occupancy rate. Now, it’s at about 94 percent.

“We are getting full,” Chris Ruffin says. “We only have a little bit of space left.”

He says he’s working with several people on other potential deals there.

“We’re just trying to get the rest of the spaces leased.”

Eustaquio Abay II files a lawsuit against Abay Neuroscience Center, the practice he founded and named for his parents

Eustaquio Abay II in a 2008 file photo.

UPDATED — Physician Eustaquio Abay II has filed a lawsuit against Abay Neuroscience Center, the practice he founded in 1986 and renamed in 1996 in honor of his parents.

“Dr. Abay built the practice, but the other members forced him out by reducing his compensation wrongfully,” says Abay’s attorney, Jay Fowler of Foulston Siefkin.

“The practical effect is the other physicians made a lot more money, and Dr. Abay made next to nothing.”

Abay, who filed his lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court last week, left the practice to start a new one in June.

“We did not force him out of the practice,” says Jeff Spahn, a Martin Pringle attorney representing the remaining partners at Abay Neuroscience Center.

“That was his decision to leave the practice.”

Spahn says Abay was paid what he was owed.

“I don’t know what Jay’s definition of nothing is, but he was paid a significant amount of money, and Jay knows better than that,” Spahn says. “At least I would regard it as a significant amount of money.”

Read More »

Mitchell Theatres purchases former Lakeside Theatre in Woodward, Okla.

WICHITA — Mitchell Theatres has purchased another theater, this time in Woodward, Okla.

The ever-busy Brian Mitchell knows it’s a lot.

“I’ve got to get this done here pretty quick because we’ve got corn harvest coming,” he says.

The Mitchell family — which includes Brian Mitchell and his siblings Brent, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas — is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton five years ago and has been steadily acquiring new theaters ever since.

Last month, the family bought Belton Cinema 8 in Belton, Mo., which made its seventh chain of theaters in the region.

The Woodward acquisition, which includes an expansion, means the family will have 58 screens.

The Woodward City Commission approved an $800,000 incentive package for the theater deal.

The Woodward theater is the former three-screen Lakeside Theatre.

Brian Mitchell says it appears to have been built in stages, with one screen across the lot from two other screens.

“It’s the craziest deal.”

Read More »

Mitchell Theatres acquires Belton Cinema 8 in Belton, Mo., for its seventh theater group

WICHITA — Mitchell Theatres has acquired its seventh chain of theaters in the region, which means it now has 52 screens.

The Mitchell family’s acquisition of Belton Cinema 8 in Belton, Mo., marks its first foray into the Kansas City area, but it’s not likely to be its last.

“There could be more opportunities up there,” says Brian Mitchell.

He operates the business with his siblings, Brent Mitchell, a lawyer at Martin Pringle, and Kendra Ramsey, who lives in Texas.

The Mitchell family is a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton five years ago, and Brian Mitchell says lessons from farming are proving beneficial in the theater business.

“It’s kind of the farm concept,” he says of managing expenses by buying carefully and doing remodeling and other work themselves.

Read More »

Mitchell family buys two more theaters

WICHITA — The Mitchell family, a farming family that bought its first theater in Newton five years ago, has purchased two more.

“This hobby just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” says Brian Mitchell, joking about what’s becoming a big business for the family along with the couple of shopping centers it owns.

The family, which includes Mitchell’s brother Brent, a Martin Pringle lawyer, bought Central 6 Cinema in El Dorado and Cowley Cinema 8 in Winfield from B&B Theatres.

The family also owns Chisholm Trail 8 in Newton, Northridge Cinema 8 in Guymon, Okla., SouthGate 6 in Liberal, and Sequoyah 9 Theatre in Garden City.

“We’ve just been looking at various properties through the Midwest,” Mitchell says. “The main thing is we like to own our own buildings. . . . That’s the farmer in us.”

The theaters were built in 2004 and 2005, so Brian Mitchell says there isn’t much renovating to do. More “refreshing,” as he puts it.

Read More »

Key Construction sues former executive vice president Pat Ayars over shares in four companies

ayars.jpgWICHITA — Key Construction has filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court seeking more than $156,801 plus interest from former employee Pat Ayars.

The dispute relates to shares Ayars owns in four Key companies.

“I was surprised that they elected to sue,” says Ayars, a former executive vice president.

“One of their founding principles is not to sue or be sued, and I thought we were working toward a reasonable conclusion.”

Key chief financial officer John Walker says the company had to file a lawsuit “just to move everything off dead center because he’s been unresponsive.”

Over the more than 11 years Ayars was the public face at Key, he acquired shares in the company as well as parent company Key Construction Cos.; Summit Holdings, a real estate investment LLC; and Key Con-Air, an LLC that owns an airplane.

According to the suit, Ayars signed an agreement that he would sell back his shares to the company at an agreed-upon price if his employment was terminated for any reason.

Ayars lost his job at Key in January and has since formed Oxford Development Holdings to build and acquire senior care centers.

The suit says Ayars signed a promissory note to pay for the stock in the companies.

“Ayars has failed or refused to repay the unpaid balance of the note in the principal amount of $391,459.61 and also owes interest on that obligation at the rate of 7 percent per annum,” the suit says.

Read More »