Rock Island Studios sues city over CityArts construction

WICHITA — Rock Island Studios has sued Wichita for its construction of CityArts a decade ago.

Rock Island is a photography studio in Old Town Square owned by Don Siedhoff, who has Beyond Napa at Rock Island Studios next door.

Neither Siedhoff nor the city are talking, but the suit says the issue is that the city “knowingly allowed and/or directed its contractors to install concrete structural footings underground on plaintiff’s property, directly underneath the building located on plaintiff’s property.”

The suit says the city didn’t have an easement, license, permission or anything else that would have allowed for the footings.

Rock Island claims it has the power of eminent domain and is entitled to fair compensation along with interest and legal fees.

Contractor Larry Cook files mechanics lien against YO-B owner Nabil Bacha

WICHITA — Contractor Larry Cook has filed a mechanics lien against YO-B owner Nabil Bacha for $87,882.

On the advice of his attorney, Cook says he won’t comment, but Bacha has plenty to say.

“The construction was embarrassing,” Bacha says of Cook’s work on the new Old Town Square restaurant, which opened in February in the former Luca Italian Kitchen space, which previously was Uptown Bistro.

Bacha, who also owns Cafe Bel Ami, says it took Cook “seven months to do four walls” during which time he saw three other area restaurants either renovated or opened.

“I don’t know why that’s such a hard time for him to do. Maybe he should not be in the construction business to start with.”

Cook’s attorney, Frank Ojile, doesn’t address specific claims by Bacha, but he says that “basically, we deny his claims.”

“My client hasn’t been paid, and we filed the mechanics lien, and I probably won’t have further comment … because of possible future litigation.”

Bacha says renovating the space for YO-B, a burger and yogurt restaurant, was supposed to be an $80,000 project and was to be completed by Oct. 15.

Cook “never delivered,” Bacha says.

“I had to have him redo so many things that were wrong,” he says. “Nothing was going right.”

Bacha says he paid almost $79,000 and then Cook told him he needed more money. Bacha says Cook kept changing the amount.

Bacha says he pointed out issues with the bill, and he says Cook told him he would take care of them. Instead, Bacha says, he got the lien.

“All of a sudden, that’s what I saw.”

In addition to saying he doesn’t owe Cook anything more, Bacha says he lost a lot of money due to the delays, and he’s left disillusioned with the process.

“I’m professional. I have never been through something like this.”

YO-B still opening in Old Town Square

WICHITA — Cafe Bel Ami owner Nabil Bacha is still planning to open YO-B in the former Luca Italian Kitchen space in Old Town Square, but when?

“Good question,” he says.

Bacha says he’s no closer to naming an opening date than when he announced the venture in August.

First, he thought the gourmet burger and yogurt business would open in mid October. When that didn’t happen, Bacha predicted mid November. That’s not going to happen, either.

“I would hate to tell anybody anything because I already failed twice,” Bacha says.

He says a reasonable guess would be December.

“Things are going very slowly right now.”

Bacha says he has many things on order.

“We’ve taken everything out, and we’re redoing everything.”

Yo-B diners will have the option of ordering from a kiosk. Bacha says he’s trying to be trendy and appeal to young customers.

“It is just a simple concept,” he says.

Opening, though, is not so simple, and that’s why Bacha says “it’s just kind of scary to pinpoint a date.”

Sugar Salon to open at Normandie Center

WICHITA — After more than a decade working in downtown Wichita, stylist Susan Brady is opening a new salon at Normandie Center at Central and Woodlawn.

Sugar Salon will open in mid-November in 1,200 square feet, which is bigger than Brady’s current Salon Lush at Occidental Plaza and smaller than Urban Image, which she used to have at Old Town Square.

“I would rather keep it small and intimate,” Brady says. “It makes for a cozier, more friendly environment.”

The chief difference with the new salon, other than being on the east side, is that Brady is once again going to have an Aveda salon.

“We had decided when we opened Salon Lush we would not carry Aveda; we would see what else is out there to offer,” Brady says.

She missed the quality of Aveda’s products and color along with Aveda’s education and “just their general support.”

“I finally realized I just need to stay with Aveda,” Brady says. “So when the opportunity presented itself to open … another Aveda salon, I of course jumped at the chance.”

Read More »

Luca Italian Kitchen closes; YO-B to open

UPDATED — Melad Stephan has sold his Luca Italian Kitchen.

Another downtown restaurateur, Nabil Bacha, took possession of it this afternoon.

“We wanted to bring something a bit different,” says Bacha, who owns Cafe Bel Ami at 229 E. William.

He considered doing something possibly called Bel Ami Bistro, which would have been similar to Stephan’s popular Uptown Bistro that was at the entrance to Old Town Square before Luca.

Bacha decided that’s too much like what is already in Old Town, though.

“They’re all competing against each other,” he says of sit-down restaurants there. “There’s just too many.”

Bacha decided to go another route with yogurt, custard and one really, really tasty burger, which he says will be similar to the popular In-N-Out Burger on the West Coast.

The name is tentatively YO-B, for yogurt and burgers.

Read More »

Hana Next Door to open Friday

WICHITA — It’s already been almost a year since Eunice and Jay Kim announced they planned to open Hana Next Door, which will be next to their Hana Cafe in Old Town Square.

Friday, it’s finally happening.

“I’m so nervous,” Eunice Kim says.

She says it’s been a long time since she started a restaurant from scratch, and even though this is a small one, it’s proven to be difficult.

The Kims are planning express-style Korean food in the space the Wichita Police Department substation previously occupied.

One of the restaurant’s highlights will be a bibimbap station where customers can select vegetables and meat to eat over rice with a flavorful chili sauce on the side, which is a traditional Korean dish.

Eunice Kim says she hopes to ease into the new restaurant with a soft opening.

Hana Next Door will open in 2013

WICHITA — Eunice and Jay Kim are still planning another expansion of their Hana Cafe in Old Town Square, but it won’t happen next month as they originally thought.

“We’re still working on it,” Eunice Kim says.

She says Hana Next Door, which is taking the space the Wichita Police Department substation previously occupied, will open sometime in early 2013.

The new Hana concept is slightly different from the traditional Korean, Japanese and sushi dishes Hana Cafe offers. It will have express-style Korean food that diners can take to go. There will be limited seating as well.

The new restaurant also will have more tofu and vegetarian offerings along with salads and what Kim calls “healthy food.”

We’ll let you know an opening date as soon as there is one.

You don’t say

“I gave that up at home. I don’t know why I wouldn’t do it here.”

Melad Stephan, joking about doing laundry at his Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square after some freshly washed, hot rags created a smoky haze Monday

Melad Stephan to open Revolution Rock Bar and move Empire Catering into Eaton Place

WICHITA — Melad Stephan is growing his Old Town empire, literally and figuratively.

Stephan’s Empire Catering is moving into Eaton Place at Douglas and St. Francis where Eaton Steakhouse used to be.

“We’re really going to attack the catering big time,” he says.

Instead of spending money to put in a kitchen there, Stephan is taking over the former Whiskey Creek space, which most recently was the Air Capital Grill, to use that kitchen for all his catering.

In the front of that space, which is at 233 N. Mosley, Stephan is putting in a bar called Revolution Rock Bar.

The building isn’t as visible as some restaurants in Old Town.

“It’s more like a bar-hopping place,” Stephan says of that area. “By putting a bar in there, it fits right in there with the other bars.”

Unlike Stephan’s Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square, which caters to an age 30-and-up crowd, Revolution will cater to a younger set.

“We’re going to do some exciting things in the front of the building to attract people in,” Stephan says. “We’re going to play music from the ’80s and things like that.”

He’ll have a DJ and show music videos on the wall.

The bar should open by early October.

Stephan hopes to open at the Eaton by early September.

Read More »

Hana Cafe owners expand with casual Korean concept Hana Next Door

WICHITA — Two years from when Eunice and Jay Kim opened their expanded Hana Cafe in Old Town Square, the couple is expanding again.

This time, though, they’re offering a new concept.

The Kims are taking the space the Wichita Police Department is vacating in September when it moves its substation. The Kims plan to open Hana Next Door there this Christmas to sell express-style Korean food.

“This concept is a little different,” Eunice Kim says.

There will be some seating, but mainly the restaurant will be for carryout service.

“We needed (something) more casual,” Kim says. “We need that kind of restaurant inside the plaza because everywhere is fine dining.”

She says a lot of people have only 30 minutes for lunch.

“Our restaurant,” Kim says of Hana Cafe, “it takes time to have lunch.”

In addition to offering faster service, Hana Next Door will have differently spiced dishes than Hana Cafe. There will be more tofu and vegetarian offerings along with more salads and what Kim calls “healthy food.”

Like Hana Cafe, the new restaurant will offer the Korean dish bibimbap, which is vegetables and protein served over rice with a flavorful chili sauce on the side. Unlike what Hana currently offers, the new restaurant will have a bibimbap station where diners can select vegetables and meat.

Read More »