Rebecca’s owner has shot at being Project Runway contestant

WICHITA — Most people who have “Project Runway” parties simply are watching the popular Lifetime show with friends.

That’s not why Rebecca Simpson is throwing one during Final Friday.

The casting director of the program, which is a reality show that pits designers against each other, has invited Simpson to try out for the next season. Part of her audition includes making a short video, which she’ll do at Rebecca’s, her Old Town Square shop next to Caffe Moderne.

“It’s going to be packed in here,” Simpson says.

She also has to fill out a 25-page application and may be called for an interview.

“He already asked me where I wanted to interview at,” Simpson says.

The casting director found her through a mutual friend.

“I still haven’t seen a whole episode through,” Simpson says.

She plans to study, though.

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Old Town loses Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill and Imbiss Grille, gains Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern

UPDATED — There are a few restaurant changes in Old Town, including the departure of a longtime Wichita restaurant.

After more than a decade in business, Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill has closed.

“It was a difficult decision,” says Heidi Johnson, franchise administrator for the Nebraska-based company.

The restaurant’s lease was up at 233 N. Mosley.

“After four years of economic woes in this country, we just didn’t think it was the right time to renew our lease in that location,” Johnson says.

An entertainment district such as Old Town isn’t a typical development where the chain prefers to locate, she says.

“We kind of build on the interstate.”

That’s an option for down the road, though probably not anytime soon, Johnson says.

Old Town developer Dave Burk is working on a possible new tenant.

“I think I’m close,” he says.

Imbiss Grille, a German restaurant that was on the west side of Old Town Square, also has closed.

The owner didn’t return numerous calls in November and December regarding the possible closure.

A new restaurant, Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern, is opening in its place.

“It’s something I’ve been working on my whole career,” says owner Chris Tincher.

He’s so far spent his career working for others. Tincher spent the bulk of his time with Amarillo Grill but also worked for P.F. Chang’s, Piztros and Ted’s Montana Grill.

He’s naming his restaurant after his brother, who died three years ago.

“It’s just in his memory,” Tincher says. “There will be some featured dishes that were some of his favorite.”

Tincher calls his restaurant an American cafe, which will have dishes such as crawfish etouffee, taco plates and cheeseburgers.

He thinks Old Town Square is an ideal location.

“The downtown business district has really grown nicely over the last five years,” Tincher says. “I personally enjoy going down there and seeing movies and having dinner.”

He plans to open in early February. Tincher isn’t nervous about finally doing his own venture.

“I’m on a high about it right now. I really am.”



You don’t say

“We work in advertising! We try to do something free, altruistic and karma restoring at least once a year.”

Sean Amore of Associated Integrated Marketing in an e-mail about the agency’s Care-A-Ton free tree giveaway at 7 a.m. Friday in Old Town Square in celebration of Arbor Day

Melad Stephan chooses a name for his new Italian bistro: Luca Italian Kitchen

WICHITA — Melad Stephan has settled on a name for his new Italian restaurant, which will open in the middle of May where his Uptown Bistro used to be in Old Town Square.

Luca Italian Kitchen is named for Gianluca Sciagata, the restaurant’s new Italian chef, who’s coming via Aspen, Colo.

So what will happen when Sciagata one day leaves the restaurant?

“Ahhh, well, the name will stay,” Stephan says.

He adds, “I hope he’s going to be around for a while.”

CK Salon opens within Reb Boutique

WICHITA — Glenda Sue Morris is expanding her REB Boutique by partnering with CK Salon owner Cindy Kemp to bring hair, nail and massage services there.

Kemp is the longtime former owner of the Shear Mania salon in Derby.

The businesses will remain separate but in the same building, which is in the former Tux Shop space in front of Scotch & Sirloin on East Kellogg.

REB Boutique, which sells furniture, clothing and accessories, has been there for seven months since leaving Old Town Square.

Morris says some people still don’t know she moved. She’s ordered a large LED sign, which will soon be installed.

Kemp is using the former Tux Shop dressing rooms to offer services. She and Morris think their businesses can work well together and plan to offer packages where customers can shop and receive services.

“What fun a woman can have,” Morris says. “We’ll make it real special.”

She calls them “play days.”

A basic package for $99 includes hair styling, nail services, massage and personalized shopping in half-hour increments.

A deluxe package is $199 for one-hour increments and includes a gift.

Limo service also will be available along with catering for groups or parties who want the packages.

Cathy Stevens, who used to own Nail Fa-nail-ia is the nail technician.

Morris says they’re still looking for an experienced massage therapist.

“This is people helping people is what it really is,” she says.

“That was our whole goal coming together,” Kemp says. “The whole thing is just an experience.”

Being in the East Kellogg space has been an experience for Morris, too.

She says a lot of customers remember it from when it was the popular Cowboy Club.

Morris says customers come in and say things such as, “You don’t know how many weekends I’ve been in this place and gotten smashed.”

She finds the situation humorous.

“It’s funny how things evolve.”

Melad Stephan to open Italian restaurant in former Uptown Bistro space

UPDATED — He’s been talking about it for some time, and now he’s going to do it.

Melad Stephan is opening an Italian restaurant in his former Uptown Bistro space in Old Town Square.

He hasn’t chosen a name yet.

“This time I’m going to pick something easy for people to pronounce instead of Oeno or Sabor or anything else,” he says of two of his other Old Town businesses.

Stephan has hired Gianluca Sciagata to be his chef.

The Italy native most recently has been working in Aspen, Colo.

So why would he want to come here?

“That’s the first thing I asked him,” Stephan says.

“He said cost of living.”

Sciagata, who says he’s fluent in Italian, Spanish and English, is moving here in early May.

He has an Italian pizzaiolo license, which means he’s adept at making pizzas, and his specialty is cooking in wood-burning ovens.

Stephan is checking to see if he can incorporate a wood-burning oven into his kitchen.

Following some remodeling, he hopes to have the restaurant open by the middle of May.

You don’t say

“It turned out to be this huge blessing.”

Lucinda’s owner Valerie Reimers, contemplating her Old Town Square shop’s 10th anniversary and how disappointed she was when she had to move out of the Farm & Art Market eight years ago

Cohlmia Marketing to move to Delano

UPDATED — Cohlmia Marketing is moving from one historic building to another.

The marketing-communication firm has been in the Yellow Cab building in Old Town for a decade.

It’s moving to the Travel Air Building at 535 W. Douglas in Delano.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to have some Douglas street exposure,” says president Carol Skaff.

That’s partly why she’s moving.

“We’re kind of off the beaten path here,” she says of her location on Mosley Street between First and Second streets.

That’s the same building where Egg Cetera is.

“It really is a wonderful location,” Skaff says. “We have really enjoyed Old Town.”

When the office opened there, there was no Old Town Square.

“The energy has been building,” Skaff says. “It’s been really fun to be part of that.

“At this time, the energy of Delano is really starting to, I guess, percolate,” she says. “They’ve just been doing so many interesting developments, and it has an interesting creative vibe, and that was attractive to us.”

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Old Town’s Uptown Bistro to close April 2

WICHITA — After months of speculation — and some denials — Melad Stephan says he’s closing Uptown Bistro in Old Town Square on April 2.

“That store hasn’t lived up to my standards in food and service and sales,” he says. “I’ll take the blame for some of it. Or most of it.”

Stephan signed a new 5-year-lease last month.

“I’m not going to leave that spot. I’m going to do something with it some day.”

He’s working on a new concept, but he won’t share details yet.

Stephan grew fed up with Uptown Bistro.

“I told them the other day, if I hear one more complaint, I’m shutting the doors down,” he says. “I’m done with everybody.”

Stephan says he couldn’t be there enough to oversee and correct operations.

He also owns Sabor Latin Bar & Grille, Egg Cetera, Oeno and Press.

So has he considered perhaps limiting himself to only one or two restaurants?

“I have in the past,” Stephan says. “You know what? You do one thing     . . . you get bored with it.”

He says he could don his chef’s coat and revive Uptown Bistro on his own, but he doesn’t want to.

“Do I have the passion and the time and the effort to do it at this stage in my life? I don’t.”

He’s been in the restaurant business 25 years.

“You know, just the routine kills you. You want to advance your life.”

Look for an update on the space as soon as Stephan makes a final decision.

Jacque Inc. Photography opens in Old Town

WICHITA — There’s a new photography studio in Old Town Square.

Jacque Waite has opened Jacque Inc. Photography in the former Reb and, before that, Beadazzled space next to Caffe Moderne.

Waite started her company five years ago as a side business. Her main job was at DigitalBrand Communications.

“I just recently decided to try it on my own,” Waite says of taking her business full time.

She’s done a lot of shooting in Old Town prior to deciding to locate her business there.

“I love shooting down here, portraits for sure,” Waite says. “I had so many people wanting to shoot down here last fall, and I’m assuming people will want that this spring.”

She likes “the combination of having a nice open space within (my studio) and then having all the great spots around Old Town outside.”

Waite wants to focus on more commercial photography. She says it’s different than shooting portraits of, say, children.

“Although I love spontaneous shoots like that where I have to make spontaneous decisions on the fly, I really like to have more control,” Waite says.

She likes the planning involved in commercial shoots.

“That’s what I loved about working at DigitalBrand,” Waite says. “We’d spend three weeks planning and then a day to shoot and a day to post.”

She plans to hold an open house in her new 1,600 square feet on March 12.