“American Pickers” attract attention in Wichita and Kiowa County

Mike Wolfe of “American Pickers” playing with Cash, left, and Charlie while visiting Jill Eller’s house in Greensburg.

UPDATED – There were some “American Pickers” sightings in Wichita over the Fourth of July weekend, but it looks like the cast and crew did more hanging out here than picking for their TV show.

“Well that really disappoints me,” said Grant Rine, a physician who owns Old Town Architectural Salvage where picker Frank Fritz stopped in.

“I was hoping they had found some treasure trove around Wichita that would bring them back some day,” Rine said.

Fritz and picking partner Mike Wolfe’s show follows them around the country as they buy antiques for resale. The two spent time in Kiowa County on Sunday and Monday shooting for a future show before wrapping up their Kansas trip.

“We have a small community, and it was nice of them to kind of … come down to reality and take pictures with all of us normal people,” said Victor Mejia, manager of the 54 Truck Stop in Mullinville.

He said others who have passed through, such as professional sports teams, have not been as friendly.

“They’re too good for us,” Mejia said of the ball players. Fritz and Wolfe and their crew “were pretty nice. They hugged everybody.”

Greensburg resident Jill Eller, who owns Kiowa Supply in Mullinville, played hostess for the visitors on Sunday.

“We just invited them to chill for a while,” Eller said. “It was just a little relaxation after a hot day.”

Her geodesic dome home, which she built following the tornado that devastated Greensburg, attracts attention from lots of out-of-town film crews.

“We just like to speak about being green and the things you can do,” Eller said.

“We’ve had the Weather Channel at our house,” she said. Last week, Eller said, a TV crew from California came and “played shuffleboard until about 2 in the morning. We had a big time.”

Wolfe and the crew were treated to dips and dessert at Eller’s house, but Fritz didn’t come.

“Frank, I think, was tired,” Eller said.

She said Wolfe and the crew are “just genuinely people like us except they’re very busy and on the road a lot.”

Eller said she watched one of the “American Pickers” vans drive past her shop several times on Monday.

“They didn’t have any followers, so I guess they’re doing OK.”

Read More »

Old Town Architectural Salvage owners buy adjacent space, plan eventual new business

WICHITA — Upgrades coming to Douglas and St. Francis are inspiring Grant and Janet Rine to do some remodeling just up the street near their Old Town Architectural Salvage shop, at 126 N. St. Francis.

The city is reconfiguring that corridor and adding landscaping, and developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey are also working to transform the Zelman building on the northeast corner into apartments, retail and restaurant space.

“That is an inspiration for us to clean that space up and do something productive,” Janet Rine says of the lot where they keep some of what they salvage.

The Rines purchased the approximately 10,000-square-foot building between their shop and the lot where they keep stone and other large pieces.

“It will, eventually over the next couple of years or so, become something else,” Rine says. “We are entertaining all kinds of ideas.”

She says her Caffe Moderne partner, Melad Stephan — who is never short on new business ideas — has said, “Gosh, wouldn’t it be great to put a great bar down there?”

She wouldn’t mind something along those lines.

“Melad would love to have, like, a Cajun bar,” she says. “Me, I’d rather have a speakeasy.”

It’s an idea she previously entertained for the salvage space.

For now, the Rines are using their new space for storage.

“It’s massively filled.”

Much like the lot, which Rine says is “driving me nuts.”

“I’d like to put temporary walls up . . . just to make it more decorative,” she says.

“We’re eventually going to empty that lot, and it will become a parking lot.”

In the meantime, she says, she’ll have to put up with it.

“It’s just my little pet peeve.”

Rine Center for Performing Arts is coming to former Immanuel Baptist Church on South Hillside

WICHITA — When last we checked with Janet and Grant Rine, they’d decided not to move their Old Town Architectural Salvage to the former Immanuel Baptist Church at 147 S. Hillside.

They bought the former church and adjacent school in April but decided to put plans on hold for a while.

Now, they’re moving forward by trying to get commercial zoning for what likely will be called the Rine Center for Performing Arts.

“It’s a slow, painful process,” Janet Rine says.

“It just takes time to jump through all the hoops and get everybody on the same page,” she says. “Sometimes it’s just difficult to be progressive.”

Kathy Page-Hauptman and Ann-Marie Rogers will book and produce shows that Rine says will create “a niche that’s not being met in Wichita.”

Read More »

Rines reconsider moving Old Town Architectural Salvage

Janet and Grant Rine have decided not to move their Old Town Architectural Salvage after all.

Last month, the Rines closed on their purchase of Immanuel Baptist Church at 147 S. Hillside. They had planned to move their shop to the former school on the property, but they’ve decided they want to utilize the space for other things.

“There are options,” Janet Rine says. “We can do offices in there. Another thing that we’re looking into is maybe in a few years creating a fine dining culinary school.”

Jan Whittle, Rine’s chef and general manager at her Caffe Moderne, is especially interested in the school.

“He already knows the team he’d bring over from the UK,” she says of Whittle’s home country.

And Rine wants to use the school’s kitchen for events that could be held in the auditorium.

“It would be a place to hold parties and dances and such,” Rine says.

She’d still like to reopen a speakeasy in the space above Old Town Architectural Salvage at 126 N. St. Francis to serve steaks and seafood.

Nothing is likely to immediately happen with the former church and school, but we’ll keep you posted.

Janet Rine finds Salvation — and more work

legionThanks to Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita may once again be home to a speakeasy like ones that were here in the ’20s and ’30s.

In fact, Caffe Moderne owner Janet Rine may open one in what she says is an actual former speakeasy location.

Her husband, physician Grant Rine, has Old Town Architectural Salvage at 126 N. St. Francis, which is a former American Legion building just north of the new arena.

“The building it resides in has become too valuable,” Rine says. “We want to make better use of that store.”

churchSo this week, the Rines purchased the former Immanuel Baptist Church at 147 S. Hillside and plan to move the salvage store to the former school on the property. More on that in a minute.

Read More »