Max Cole to open Mindfire Children’s Academy day care

WICHITA — A year after adding a Starwood Hotels call center to his former Office This space at 4031 E. Harry, Max Cole is preparing to open a day care to help Starwood workers and other groups that are expanding there.

“We’ve got a lot of things going on,” Cole says.

All but 40,000 square feet of his 370,000 square feet of leasable space is occupied.

Starwood has more than 51,000 square feet and about 550 employees. Cole says Starwood will be adding more workers in the next two to three years for a total of about 900.

The center has workers almost around the clock, so Cole says the day care will operate 24 hours a day.

“Starwood needs it badly,” he says.

He says there are about 1,100 employees total among all the companies and organizations with space at his center.

Cole is calling the day care Mindfire Children’s Academy after his Mindfire Academy, which is a school to teach adults and children digital video, audio and the art of making video games.

The day care will open after plans are approved with the city, which Cole thinks should be within three or four months.

Though Cole is starting the day care, he says he’s in talks with a company to run it.

“We’re kind of designing it as a high-tech thing,” he says of helping children learn.

Initially, the day care will be in about 12,000 square feet and be able to hold almost 100 children.

“We think that’s our start,” Cole says.

He thinks it likely will grow, though, due to other growth at the complex.

That includes Saint Francis Community Services, which has a contract with the Department for Children and Families to provide reintegration, foster care and adoption services.

“Our foster care homes program has, like, tripled in size, and we’re expecting even a bit larger growth,” says Saint Francis’ CFO Brian Carlgren.

Saint Francis is adding 20 employees to its current 240. It now has 31,000 square feet and is expanding with an additional almost 12,000 square feet.

“This other area will give us more of a storefront, too,” Carlgren says.

Though Saint Francis doesn’t need all the additional square feet right now, he says it can be used for storage and then Saint Francis will have “the ability then to grow into it if we need to.”

“It’s been great,” Carlgren says of being at the center. “Max has been a great landlord to work with. He’s making lots of improvements to the building.”

Communications provider Ideatek also is looking to expand at the center.

The Buhler-based company provides phone and Internet service and data transport over fiber-optic cables.

Ivan Kuhn, vice president of sales and marketing, says the Wichita office is projected to grow substantially in the next year thanks to a new contract with a wireless provider to build a fiber-optic ring around Wichita.

“We may double or better in the next 12 months,” he says.

Ideatek has about 2,500 square feet and can expand into the suite next to that for another more than 2,500 square feet.

Cole says things have gone well since he converted from his Office This concept.

“Oh, god, we’ve done great.”

He says he still needs a name for the center, though.

“You know what I’m thinking about naming it? I’m thinking about naming it the Former Wichita Mall,” Cole says of the space, which once was the Wichita Mall.

“Whatever I name the (thing), everybody’s going to call it the former Wichita Mall.”

Jason-Paul Febres to open second Taste & See in part of former Doc Howard’s space

UPDATED – Jason-Paul Febres is heading back to Old Town.

“Now I’m moving back to my roots,” says the man who became known as Sabor Latin Bar & Grille’s first executive chef.

The Venezuela native is returning to Old Town with his own place — a second Taste & See.

“Well, first of all, it’s about time,” Febres says. “I don’t think it was a matter of if we were going to expand. It was a matter of when we were going to expand.”

Febres is taking 4,532 square feet at 252 N. Mosley, which is part of the space developer Dave Burk is converting at the former Doc Howard’s Lounge building.

“I love Old Town,” Febres says. “I like the crowded scene. That’s what I’m made for.”

Febres bounced around to various restaurants before opening Taste & See with a partner at Office This in the former Wichita Mall. Febres says he plans to keep that site, which will be open for lunch, classes and private events. It will be known as Taste & See The Venue.

The new Taste & See will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Febres is planning a “very, very upscale tapas lounge” and “a beautiful patio.”

He’s also working on a new menu.

“It’s going to be a little more out there, and it’s going to be more fun,” Febres says. “I’m going to have the chance to play with more food than I was able to.”

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Saint Francis Community Services to take 30,000 square feet at the former Office This

WICHITA — Saint Francis Community Services, which is taking over child welfare services previously provided by Youthville, is going to occupy 31,000 square feet at the former Office This.

The organization currently operates in about 4,000 square feet on North Amidon.

“We have to significantly expand that space,” says John Hoskins, vice president of marketing for the Salina-based group.

Saint Francis will occupy space that technically was part of the Office This development at 4031 E. Harry but wasn’t in the main area that was rented for office and conference space.

Developer Max Cole has closed that space in anticipation of a new tenant that will take as much as 100,000 square feet, though the deal isn’t done. The Saint Francis deal is separate from that.

In 1996, Kansas privatized management of its child welfare system that handles foster care, adoption services, residential treatment facilities and family preservation services.

There are five groups that bid on contracts to handle those services every four years.

Saint Francis won work for the next four years in two regions, including the Wichita region which is comprised of Wichita and almost a dozen surrounding counties.

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You don’t say

“If I tell you a rooster can pull a freight train, hitch him up.”

Office This developer Max Cole, who says that was his father’s favorite saying, and he now regularly uses it to tell people they should believe him

Taste & See owner Jason-Paul Febres to appear on Spike’s “Bar Rescue”

Jason-Paul Febres

WICHITA — Taste & See owner and chef Jason-Paul Febres has always wanted to be on TV, but he couldn’t believe it when he got a call from the Spike television network a couple of months ago.

“They called me, which was surprising. I didn’t even have to call them.”

A Spike representative wondered if Febres might like to discuss appearing as a guest expert on “Bar Rescue,” which is similar to shows such as “Restaurant Impossible” and “Kitchen Nightmares” that feature experts trying to help struggling restaurants.

So Febres submitted a video and did an interview but didn’t allow himself to get his hopes up, so he was shocked when Spike called back to inform him he’d been selected.

“I was freaking out. I jumped out of the shower and was screaming.”

The Caracas, Venezuela, native, came to Wichita in 2006 and says he thinks Spike was interested in him because “Bar Rescue” was looking for a chef with Latin flair.

Though the show helps business owners, it’s not always in the nicest ways possible.

“It is pretty explicit, which is fun,” Febres says. “It’s pretty out there. They like to do everything controversial. Pretty dramatic, ‘Jersey Shore’ style.”

Febres flies to Los Angeles Jan. 7 for a week of filming at a yet-to-be-named restaurant.

He admits he won’t be shy about telling others what to do.

“I’m very particular about the way I run my businesses.”

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Taste & See Everyday Gourmet to expand with market and new dining room

WICHITA — Jason-Paul Febres is expanding his Taste & See Everyday Gourmet in a couple of ways.

The business, which is in Office This at 3825 E. Harry, is part restaurant and part cooking school. Now, it’s going to have a small retail area as well.

“It’s like a market … to sell our signature products,” Febres says. He says customers “keep asking repeatedly (so) we decided to do it.”

For instance, Febres says, customers go crazy for his cilantro lime aioli.

“The way people react when they eat it is very funny,” he says. “They make noises. … It’s ridiculous.”

The products will be made fresh daily, and Febres says if they don’t immediately sell, he’ll use them at the restaurant.

Febres says other businesses have approached him about selling his products as well, but he’s not ready to announce anything.

The market will feature a type of cart that Febres compares to an old-style European market cart. The market area also will have a refrigerator for perishables.

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Max Cole isn’t giving up the fight for a new library at his Office This development

WICHITA — Office This developer Max Cole isn’t giving up his dream of a progressive southeast library without a fight.

In September, Have You Heard? reported that Cole made an offer to the city to do a 60,000-square-foot library at the development in the former Wichita Mall at 4031 E. Harry. At the time, Cole said he would charge $5 a square foot and throw in an extra 20,000 square feet for storage.

This week, when Cole heard the Wichita City Council approved further study of a scaled-back central library at Second and McLean, he fired off a quick e-mail to director of libraries Cynthia Berner Harris.

“I thought the economic downturn would cause the Library Board to be more realistic about the Central Library plan,” Cole wrote. “But I was wrong!”

He called the plan a “proposed book museum with computers in the downtown area.”

“The plan is so out of touch, it’s embarrassing,” Cole wrote.

He copied the e-mail to several others, including District 3 City Council member James Clendenin.

“He doesn’t pull any punches – ever,” Clendenin says of Cole. “I was somewhat speechless at first.”

He says he’s not against Cole’s proposal.

“What is the library of the future going to look like? I think Max has a really good idea of what that could look like.”

Cole wrote that he’s proposing “a digital-age vocational library that is intended to close the achievement gap in Southeast Wichita, where it is most needed … .”

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Developer Max Cole offers city a library deal at his Office This development on East Harry

WICHITA — Office This developer Max Cole was reading a Wichita Eagle story about the city’s proposed almost-$50 million library, and it got him thinking.

“I started on YouTube looking around the world at libraries and seeing what the difference is between the time I used to go to them and today, and I got really excited about it,” he says.

So he wrote District 3 City Council member James Clendenin with a new library offer for his Office This development in the former Wichita Mall at 4031 E. Harry.

“I’m proposing to do a 60,000-square-foot super deal,” Cole says.

“I’m offering them the world. It’s a paradigm shift, believe me. I know I shocked them with the offer, but it’s the right thing to do.

“I want that southeast part of town to succeed. I invested 10 years and a lot of money.”

He got the attention of Clendenin and others.

“Tell you what, I’m very intrigued by Max’s presentation,” says Clendenin, who has visited the property several times, including with library board members.

“I think everybody sees the extreme potential that the Office This space gives District 3,” he says. “That location is smack dab between two of the most underserved neighborhoods in Wichita.”

He’s referring to Planeview and Hilltop, but Clendenin says Office This is ideally situated for most of the district.

Director of libraries Cynthia Berner-Harris says the library board has invited Cole to make a formal presentation at its Oct. 18 meeting.

Cole’s offer was discussed at the board’s meeting Tuesday.

“They also were very intrigued by the possibilities, but they do have concerns that 60,000 square feet is beyond our capacity at this time,” Berner-Harris says.

She says southeast Wichita is an area scheduled to be addressed with the library’s master plan. The plan calls for a neighborhood facility of 7,500 square feet.

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Jimmy’s Egg near 21st and Amidon closes; location near Office This to open soon

WICHITA — It turns out the new Jimmy’s Egg that’s going in front of Max Cole’s Office This development at 4031 E. Harry will replace the one just west of 21st and Amidon.

That Jimmy’s Egg is now closed.

Owner Wink Hartman Sr. says his management team “is going to take action to correct businesses that are not performing.”

“The concept is that we’re growing and reallocating our assets to more profitable areas and stores,” he says.

Hartman didn’t want to wait for the new Walmart Neighborhood Market to open at Marina Lakes on the southwest corner of the intersection and hope that his business increased.

“You cannot continually develop and plan your future around a Walmart,” Hartman says. “Yes, they drive traffic, but we have a breakfast concept, and it doesn’t really tie into being around a Walmart.”

The Jimmy’s Egg by Office This will open within 45 days.

Hartman has one more planned by the end of the year.

He’s close to a lease on the west side of College Hill and could have the restaurant open by Thanksgiving.

Look for more news on it soon.

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.”