Historic Midtown home becomes a B&B; Wellington Place Inn to open in December

Wayne Chambliss (left) and Gary Ivy are opening Wellington Place Inn in December.

WICHITA — It’s no coincidence that when a visitor enters the home at 1847 N. Wellington Place in Midtown, one of the first noticeable things is an enticing aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting from the kitchen.

Wayne Chambliss and Gary Ivy planned it that way, as they intend to do for each of their guests when they open Wellington Place Inn in December.

The two have been wanting to open a bed and breakfast for some time. From their home base in Austin, Texas, they flew all over the country to look at possible cities and inns.

“Either the town was beautiful and the house was a wreck, or the house was beautiful and the town didn’t seem to have anything going on,” Chambliss says.

They were close on a deal in Ohio, but they took it as a sign when it didn’t work out.

The 6,500-square-foot Wellington Place house “was just gorgeous and was in very good shape,” Chambliss says, and he says Wichitans immediately welcomed him and Ivy.

“The business climate is phenomenal,” he says. “Everybody just seemed very positive, and so we thought this was the place to be. … Wichita just seemed to have everything.”

They’re still doing research on the house, but Chambliss says it was built in 1887 by former Wichita Mayor L.W. Clapp and is on local and national historic registries.

“It’s a beautiful old home,” he says.

The city used to own the house and used it as an event center.

There are five bedrooms that will be used for guests. Chambliss and Ivy are keeping the third floor private for their own use.

“There are so many cool features about this house,” Chambliss says. “The thing I’m most proud of is one of the front doors (Clapp) actually hand carved, and it’s still here.”

Ivy says small details, such as unique knobs on doors, caught his eye when he saw the house.

“I was like, this is fantastic,” he says.

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New Sam’s Club should open next summer

WICHITA — When it comes to big box news, it’s hard to beat the excitement about the new Costco coming to Kellogg and Webb Road. There’s still plenty of interest, though, in the new Sam’s Club that will open not far from the northern part of NewMarket Square.

According to a spokesman for the Arkansas-based retailer, the new Sam’s will open in 136,000 square feet at the northeast corner of 29th and Maize Road next summer.

This will make the ninth Sam’s in Kansas. The new store will hire about 175 people. Sam’s and sister company Walmart have almost 20,000 employees in the state.

The new Sam’s will have a fuel center and a pharmacy.

Look for a specific opening date closer to next summer.

You don’t say

“I have actually seen the blueprints.”

City Council member Jeff Longwell on how, despite what it may seem, plans for a new Sam’s Club at 29th and Maize Road are moving forward

Costco deal for more than 17 acres at Beechcraft property is getting closer

UPDATED — Anyone who’s ever done a real estate deal knows it almost always takes longer than expected, and it’s no different with Costco’s potential purchase of Beechcraft property.

It was about this time last year that Have You Heard? first reported that the Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, a competitor to Sam’s Club, was looking to come to Wichita.

In August, sources said Costco was interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which was Hawker Beechcraft property.

When the aircraft company changed its name to simply Beechcraft earlier this year and changed all its signs, spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said it didn’t put one back up on the corner since the property is for sale.

No one with Beechcraft or Costco is talking yet, but here’s the latest on the potential deal:

Costco has about 17 1/2 acres under contract. The deal isn’t likely to close until later this year. That’s substantially further out than initial time lines suggested. It looks like part of the holdup was the Hawker bankruptcy filing. There were some questions related to environmental issues at the plant as well.

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Costco has a top pick for Wichita property

WICHITA — Costco has identified a top pick for property to open its first store in Wichita, but no one with the cost-cutting competitor to Sam’s Club is talking yet.

Sources says the Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is interested in the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road, which is Hawker Beechcraft property.

“We do not have any information or comments to provide at this time,” Hawker spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said in an e-mail.

Hawker’s bankruptcy doesn’t appearing to be hurting a potential Costco deal, although it sounds like it may be slowing things.

In April, Have You Heard? reported that Costco was once again seriously eyeing Wichita – as it had several years ago before a deal fell apart.

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Costco may be close to a Wichita deal

WICHITA — Wichita, you just may get your wish for a Costco — maybe even relatively soon — though how close the company is to a deal depends on who you talk to.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based chain, which sells bulk items similar to Sam’s Club stores, has been eyeing Wichita again.

“I came to the market to look at the market on a macro basis,” says co-founder and executive chairman Jeff Brotman. “I didn’t like anything I saw.”

Brotman says that “without disclosing our deepest, darkest secrets,” he can say that the locations he looked at didn’t fit with the way the market moves, meaning its natural trade areas.

“I have a mild interest,” Brotman says. “I’m interested in everything, right? . . . It’s just hard to focus on things that aren’t burning priorities.”

That’s not how others tell it. According to them, Costco is close enough to a deal that a 2013 opening isn’t out of the question.

Even Brotman says, “Let’s just assume it was true: I wouldn’t tell you about it. Even after we get a property under control, we don’t talk about it until after we have permits.”

In summer 2010, The Eagle conducted a poll of what businesses Wichitans would like to have in the city.

Costco narrowly lost the top choice to Cheesecake Factory.

“I was a little disappointed that we came in second,” Costco co-founder and then-CEO Jim Sinegal joked at the time. “I’ve got to be prepared to deal with these little disappointments in life.”

Costco has previously been close to at least one other deal here, and Sinegal said a finalized deal is simply a matter of the company giving Wichita some attention.

“Meaning . . . we get off our butts and go take a look,” he said. “At any point and time, we probably have 100 different sites we’re looking at.”

Sources say several sites have been under consideration over the last six months or so.

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Fired Walmart worker receives outpouring of support — and a couple of shots at a new job

WICHITA — What a difference a day makes.

Monday, Heather Ravenstein filed for unemployment after losing her job as a customer service manager at the Walmart on West Kellogg.

She was fired because she violated company policy by foiling a shoplifter’s attempt to steal a computer.

Tuesday, the single mother received an outpouring of support as more people learned of her situation through The Eagle and other news outlets.

“My phone’s been going off the hook,” Ravenstein says.

Mostly it’s friends and former co-workers who have her number, so others have been trying to track her down by calling her former in-laws and by contacting The Eagle.

So far, there are two Wichita businesses that are interested in interviewing Ravenstein for possible jobs.

Her landlord has given her one month’s free rent.

Some people are offering money, including one politician (who prefers to remain anonymous) who would like to buy her a grocery card and a gas card — not from Walmart or Sam’s Club.

People from across the state are supporting Ravenstein with comments like, “I’ve never heard of anything so un-American.”

“They’re getting a lot of heat from this,” Ravenstein says of Wal-Mart.

And Ravenstein is feeling a lot more confident than she did on Monday.

“I’ve got a lot of people backing me up, so I’m OK.”

Cafe Cork & Canape to close this month

WICHITA — Cafe Cork & Canape, which has been in business in Wichita since the late 1970s, is closing at the end of February.

“It’s just a whole lot of things that have brought us to this point,” owner Roxanne Filby says.

Her lease at Prairie Village at 13th and Woodlawn is up at the end of February.

“I don’t want to sign another lengthy lease again,” Filby says.

That’s because her husband, former Sullivan Higdon & Sink employee Jeff Filby, is looking for work, and the couple may need to move.

“People are like, ‘Thank God you have your business,’ but I’m like, ‘Yeah, but . . . . It’s not making much money.”

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Willow Creek Designs to open to the public Thursday at Northrock Business Park

WICHITA — Not many people purposely decorate the back side of their drapery with a fabric different from the front, but Chris McCoy does. And she’s happy to help you do the same.

“It’s kind of like your lingerie,” she says. “Sometimes what’s on the back or underneath you only know about.”

McCoy is opening her Willow Creek Designs to the public Thursday.

She’s had the design business for several years and worked with friends or referrals.

“This is kind of my big launch for the public,” McCoy says. “I’ve just been ramping up collecting samples and lines of furniture and . . . working on my house for three years.”

Her house will function as her show house if potential clients want to see the lines she carries or the work she does.

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El Mexico Cafe owner receives a temporary restraining order against former partner

WICHITA — The owner of El Mexico Cafe on Seneca is in a dispute with former partner William Villar Jr.

Brent Helm sought and received a temporary restraining order from Sedgwick County District Court that prevents Villar from competing against El Mexico with any Mexican restaurant other than his Mexico Cafe Delano.

Neither side is talking, but here’s the situation:

Villar’s parents, William and Mary, operated numerous versions of their popular Mexican restaurant around Wichita over the last 40 years.

They closed El Mexico on Seneca in spring 2008.

Helm, his wife Rhonda, and William Villar Jr. became partners and reopened the restaurant that summer.

Then Villar quit the partnership and signed a termination agreement in September. The petition says that the agreement states Villar won’t have anything to do with another Mexican restaurant other than his one in Delano.

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