You don’t say

“You can bet that stewardess got a nice, free meal at Freddy’s.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers operating partner Scott Redler, who returned to Wichita on Southwest Airlines and heard a flight attendant say, “Welcome to Wichita, now you can get off and go get yourself some Starbucks and some Freddy’s.”

Lawyer Abdul Arif buys Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — Abdul Arif swore he’d never do it again, but he’s getting back in the restaurant business.

Arif says he closed on a deal Wednesday to buy Avivo Brick Oven Pizzeria in NewMarket Square and plans to make some changes, though incrementally, and expand with more restaurants.

Years ago, the lawyer says, he had a couple of Indian restaurants “that I lost my shirt on.”

The difference now, he says, is his tenant at Sutton Place, Gerard Rodriguez of Anna Murdoc’s Cafe, is going to run Avivo in addition to having an ownership stake in it.

“We made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, just like the pizza mafia guys do,” Arif says jokingly.

He says Rodriguez went to culinary school and has a passion for food.

“I’m not passionate about food like these guys who go to culinary school,” Arif says. “You can’t get them to shut up.”

Tony Suellentrop, whose family started Avivo, says other demands prompted the sale.

“We have a lot going on,” he says.

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Verizon Wireless to expand at NewMarket Square and Tallgrass Centre

WICHITA — Verizon Wireless is expanding two of its Wichita stores, which both happen to be at Slawson Cos. properties.

The chain has a new store under construction at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road, where there has been an expansion boom of late.

“We’ve had a lot of stores over the last couple of years that have expanded,” says April Reed, who handled the Verizon deals.

That includes expansions by Maurices, Personally Yours, Hallmark and Starbucks.

“We’ve been on a roll in terms of tenants expanding,” Reed says.

Verizon currently has 2,500 square feet in the same building as Bella Luna Cafe. In the first quarter of 2014, it will be moving to 5,200 square feet and taking most of the University of Phoenix’s former space. That’s in the same building as Kay Jewelers and Scottrade.

“It’ll be an updated space,” Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Hill says of the store.

Reed says there are 1,400 square feet of the former university space left to lease.

At Slawson’s Tallgrass Centre development on the southwest corner of 21st and North Rock Road, Verizon is expanding as well.

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Partying like a rock star — in Wichita

Wally Reyes Jr., post workout at the Ambassador Hotel, partying with Anchor owner Schane Gross.

WICHITA — Percussionist Walfredo Reyes Jr., who is on tour with Chicago, had just finished a workout in the Ambassador Hotel’s gym Sunday night when he encountered Anchor owner Schane Gross in the elevator on his way back to his room on the 12th floor.

Before he knew it, he was partying with a bunch of chefs and food service vendors celebrating their first Funday in the Rock Star Suite.

Funday is a Kansas City tradition that Siena Tuscan Steakhouse chef Marshall Roth is now instituting at the Ambassador where chefs gather to cook and hang out together on Sundays. The first one included Wichita chefs and several from Kansas City.

Reyes, who goes by Wally, fit right in as he fielded questions about his time in Wichita on the band’s way to Salina’s Stiefel Theatre Monday.

So why wasn’t he or anyone else in the band already staying in the Rock Star Suite?

“Too many expenses,” he says.

The Cuba native is known around the world for his drumming and has toured with a number of acts, such as Santana and Steve Winwood.

“I travel all around the world like I’m hopping in a cab,” Reyes says.

Still, he was impressed with Wichita.

He stopped into A Legacy Antique Mall around the corner from the Ambassador.

“I transported myself to the ’60s,” he says of checking out records.

He also popped over to Mead’s Corner for a small latte with a double shot of espresso.

“And you know what?” Reyes says. “They know how to make it. Starbucks doesn’t.”

Reyes, who currently lives north of Los Angeles, particularly liked Old Town even though not much was open Sunday morning as he walked around.

“I have a fetish with brick or something,” he says. “It kind of … talks to you.”

He says that’s one reason he likes New Orleans so much, and now Old Town is on his list, too.

“I love the vibe.”

Reyes says he can imagine the area continuing to grow and prosper even more.

“In, like, two or three years, I’ll be back to rock and party.”

Kobe Steak House of Japan in Derby has closed, but Starbucks and Braum’s are opening, possibly followed by Chipotle

WICHITA — Derby’s loss is going to be Wichita’s gain.

Kobe Steak House of Japan, which opened three years ago in the former Tokyo Steakhouse space at 1221 N. Rock Road in Derby, closed after business March 2.

Jim Hamlin, who owns the restaurant with Jim West, says they plan to reopen in Wichita.

They already have a Kobe at 21st and Maize Road. Hamlin won’t say where the new one will be.

“I’ll tell you that a little later.”

Hamlin says the Derby Kobe was profitable, but not enough.

“We hadn’t been as successful there as we’d like to be.”

He says there were issues with the building, including too much square footage for the number of diners it could seat, and a too-small parking lot.

“It just had a number of barriers to growing down there,” Hamlin says. “It takes a lot of population to have a specialty restaurant.”

It’s not all bad dining news for Derby, though.

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Courtyard by Marriott renovates in Old Town

WICHITA — What’s the fun in traveling only to be stuck in a hotel room?

That’s what Marriott International thinks, and that’s why the Courtyard by Marriott at 820 E. Second St. in Old Town has had a major renovation of its lobby and other public areas.

Jim Korroch, developer of the 128-room hotel that opened in 2006, says the buzz word for the renovation was to “activate” the lobby.

He says the idea was “to really make it an area where guests feel like they can get out of their rooms and … socialize with other guests.”

There’s a new bistro called Table 820. It’s mainly for guests, although Korroch says, “Anybody is welcome to use it.”

It’s in the same area as a bar and a Starbucks service station.

Without these kinds of amenities, Korroch says, “Frankly, it causes us to hang out more in our rooms.”

The hotel’s traditional front desk has been replaced with welcome pedestals of sorts, which are more private and personal, according to the hotel.

There’s free WiFi, computer terminals, a printer and the thing that often proves the most elusive for business and other travelers: plenty of electrical outlets.

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Starbucks to expand at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — Starbucks is expanding its space at NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road.

No one with the company is sharing details, but April Reed of Slawson Cos. confirms it’s happening.

Starbucks, which has been at NewMarket since 2003, currently has 1,500 square feet. It’s expanding into the 1,475-square-foot space Cartridge World left last summer.

Slawson has done exterior work to get the new space ready for Starbucks.

“One of their concerns was that each of those storefronts had its own distinct look,” Reed says. “They wanted to make it look like it was one cohesive space.”

The coffee chain is now in the design and permitting phase.

“They’re shooting to open in May,” Reed says.

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‘Til We Meet Again further franchises and encounters its first stumbling block

WICHITA — Willow Group continues to ink franchise deals for more ’Til We Meet Again stores, but the Wichita company has also experienced its first setback.

The chain’s first franchisee was to open a custom casket store in Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne, Ind., in May, but Willow Group’s Nathan Smith says mall management changed its mind without giving him or local media a reason.

“Glenbrook Square officials likely sealed a casket company’s fate in Fort Wayne,” read the lead of a Journal Gazette story, which was one of several stories about the issue that appeared in local media outlets.

“It was a mess,” says Smith, who is partners in Willow Group with Traci Smith-Cone.

“Honestly, it took us by surprise,” Smith says. “We do everything we can in the beginning to make sure everything is secured.”

He says the mall took five months to approve the contract.

No one with Glenbrook could be reached for comment.

Smith says the franchisee lost about $100,000 on remodeling and other expenses when told she’d have to vacate the mall five days before opening. He says the store had a contract, but there was a clause that the mall could ask the store to leave at any time.

“We definitely worked quickly with the franchisee to minimize even more loss of funds,” Smith says. “At the time, it was a scramble.”

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BattleStations Gaming to open at Preston Village near Central and Greenwich

WICHITA — A new gaming center is opening at Preston Village near the northeast corner of Central and Greenwich.

“We’re going to try to take the Starbucks experience meets the gaming industry,” says Steve Heiden, CEO of BattleStations Gaming.

The business will have Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and computer gaming along with some nonelectronic gaming, such as role-playing games.

“We want to create … the game center,” Heiden says. He wants gamers and nongamers alike to “feel warm and welcome here.”

He’ll have snacks and drinks available along with an 80-inch TV for those who might be there with others but don’t want to play. There also will be video games for sale along with PC accessories, T-shirts and miscellaneous gaming items.

Although many people have these games in their homes, Heiden says, “Maybe you don’t have a 3-D TV, or maybe you don’t have that 7.1 headset.”

He likes to use the coffee analogy to explain it.

“Well, honestly, you could make coffee at your house, or you could get it at work for free,” Heiden says. He points out that a lot of people go to Starbucks instead.

“You go there for an experience,” Heiden says. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Adam Clements of Builders Inc. handled the deal.

BattleStations Gaming, which will be in more than 2,400 square feet, is having a soft opening Saturday and a grand opening Sept. 7.

Scholfield Auto Plaza to become Wichita Luxury Collection, A Member of the Scholfield Automotive Group, and move to 13th and Greenwich

UPDATED — More than four years after first discussing a possible move, Scholfield Auto Plaza is preparing to break ground on a new luxury auto dealership near the northwest corner of 13th and Greenwich.

President and managing partner Bobby Cuillo says the new showrooms within the newly named Wichita Luxury Collection, A Member of the Scholfield Automotive Group are going on 17 acres behind Home Bank & Trust.

“They’re not going to be over-the-top or ostentatious, but there will be a tremendous amount of thoughtful touches,” Cuillo says. “No detail will be left out.”

Currently, the Lexus dealership is in 16,000 square feet at 11220 E. Kellogg. Next door, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Porsche and Jaguar share a 30,000-square-foot showroom at 11212 E. Kellogg.

“We’ve outgrown these facilities,” Cuillo says.

The new Lexus showroom will be 26,000 square feet.

Mercedes-Benz is now going to have its own 26,000-square-foot showroom, which will be built at the same time as the Lexus showroom.

“You can see the growth that they’ve projected,” Cuillo says of Mercedes-Benz.

Within two to four years, two other new buildings will be built next to the Lexus and Mercedes-Benz showrooms. Acura most likely will have its own space, and Jaguar and Porshe will share a space.

“From an interruption standpoint … it’s easier to bite off a little at a time,” Cuillo says.

“It just makes better sense.”

Cuillo says construction may start in August, but it could be a little later. “Certainly before the year is out.”

The new showrooms will be across the intersection from Scholfield Buick GMC, which is going on the southwest corner.

At the new showrooms, there will be Starbucks outlets similar to the ones found in Dillons and Target stores.

In the Lexus dealership, there will be a putting green and a multiuse room for cooking demonstrations and salon and spa treatments. Cuillo says he’ll establish partnerships with vendors who can offer his customers diversions while they wait for their cars to be serviced. He does some of that now, but Cuillo says, “This will be on a much grander scale.”

In both dealerships, there will be glass walls at the service areas so customers can watch their cars getting serviced.

Cuillo says building separate showrooms “obviously puts the focus on one brand.”

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