Shorty Small’s has closed, but there’s a chance it could open in Wichita again

UPDATED — Shorty Small’s last day in business in Wichita was Feb. 24.

“Yesterday was a very emotional, very hard day,” says Cindy Harsha, vice president of the Oklahoma City-based company.

“I just can’t begin to tell you how emotional and hard it was.”

The restaurant opened more than seven years ago on the southwest corner of 119th and Maple in the Westlake shopping center.

“We opened to some really great numbers,” Harsha says. “Then, after about a year or so, things were dwindling.”

The restaurant initially was a fast-casual concept, but Harsha says the neighborhood wanted something more, so the chain remodeled into a full-service restaurant.

She says diners “really had a lovely reaction to that.”

Sales didn’t remain strong, though.

“Wichita seems to have suffered some economic hardships,” Harsha says. “We’re not the only ones the economy has been mean to.”

Road construction in the area didn’t help either, she says.

Another retooling of the restaurant last year also helped, though.

“We did have a nice little bounce back of sales this last spring,” Harsha says. “It seemed like a curtain fell down this summer.”

She blames a combination of gas prices and Boeing’s planned departure from the city followed by the Bombardier Learjet Machinists strike in the fall.

“It just was pretty devastating to sales.”

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Spirit AeroSystems shares award for crisis communications with American Airlines

UPDATED — Which is a bigger crisis for an aircraft company or an airline to deal with: An EF-3 tornado, or Alec Baldwin getting kicked off a flight for playing Words With Friends when he’d been told to shut down all electronics?

Turns out they’re both big deals for crisis communicators, so Ragan’s PR Daily recently awarded Spirit AeroSystems and American Airlines an award for best crisis communications.

“I was totally blown away,” says Spirit spokesman Ken Evans. “I thought we had a 10 percent shot.”

He figured no matter how dramatic the April 14 tornado was, it’s hard to top a celebrity crisis.

PR Daily says Spirit won because it lost all its traditional communication tools – e-mail, its website, even desk phones – but still managed to keep the public, the media and employees informed.

“We were kind of forced to think outside the box for us,” Evans says. “We’re a fairly conservative communications group. … I know that’s shocking to you.”

Twitter became one of the company’s chief communication tools. It also used YouTube and Flickr.

Evans says Spirit’s communications team made a case to management that it needed to reach out immediately, particularly to the media, “so that all of our local stakeholders wouldn’t panic.”

“One of the best results of the week was that our stock did not take a major hit even after that EF-3 tornado.”

He says the company learned lessons from the crisis as well.

“The one audience we didn’t spend (time) keeping up to date was an internal audience at other Spirit sites around the world. They were hungrier for information on a daily basis than we thought they would. They felt left out.”

Evans says the company is using some social media more these days than it used to.

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You don’t say

“That is an unintended consequence and benefit.”

Todd Ramsey of Apples & Arrows about how the ad agency has cleverly allowed clients to take over its Twitter posts to give them some exposure and give the agency a social media break

Sandra Denneler’s pinata cookies attract attention from thousands, including Pee-wee Herman and the Huffington Post

WICHITA — She’s not going to quit her day job just yet, but Wichita State University art director Sandra Denneler is getting a lot of attention for some pinata cookies she created.

It was Cinco de Mayo 2011 when she first made the now-famous cookies. The year before, Denneler had made mini taco cookies that co-workers loved. She wanted to top them, so she created three-in-one pinata cookies. The middle cookie is hollow and spills mini M&Ms when broken.

Sometime in the last year, someone pinned Denneler’s recipe on Pinterest, and word spread.

More recently, the SheKnows food blog asked Denneler to create a tutorial on how to make the cookies.

So far, more than 40,000 people have “liked” it on Facebook, and more than 188,000 have pinned it on Pinterest.

“It was kind of weird because all these other blogs started posting it,” Denneler says.

The Huffington Post called this week and wanted to feature the recipe as well.

Even Pee-wee Herman commented on it on Facebook and Twitter.

“Oh, god, I was thrilled and excited and just laughing out loud because I thought of all people in the world, I never thought Pee-wee Herman would be a fan of mine,” Denneler says.

Her favorite comment came from one of his fans, though.

Denneler says the fan wrote, “Martha has finally been upstaged.”

“I was like, ‘Yes!’”

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You don’t say

“Does that mean that by next year someone might be able to pick up a 737 on ‘Storage Wars’? : )”

– Nine-year-old Reylynn Caster’s response on Twitter after seeing the news that Spirit AeroSystems needs temporary warehouse storage

You don’t say

“I said, ‘Oh, no, no, this is too much fun.’ Plus they wouldn’t say what I’ll say.”

Wink Hartman Sr. on having a new Twitter account (@WinkHartmanKS) that he’ll do himself instead of taking an offer from a couple of employees to do it for him

You don’t say

“We had the Dot com bubble ’95-’00, the Housing bubble ’97-’07, & now Wichita has the Frozen yogurt bubble of ’11.”

Byron Watkins, advisor associate with Waddell & Reed, joking on Twitter about all the new yogurt places

You don’t say

“can i picket with a chick fil a sandwich in my mouth?”

— A tweet from Chick-fil-A fan Seymour Mitchell (@seymitch) in response to Twitter talk Tuesday about people picketing the company because of its support of an anti-gay organization

Labor Party to open in Old Town for collaborative creative office space

WICHITA — A lot of independent creative professionals, such as writers, graphic artists and web designers, either work from home or in area coffee shops.

The Labor Party is looking to change that.

“We’re trying to provide kind of another alternative to that,” says Todd Ramsey, a brand strategist.

Ramsey is part of a group that has leased almost 5,000 square feet in a two-story building at 216 N. Mosley, which is north of the Hotel at Old Town’s banquet space, and will sublease space to creative individuals who’d like to share working space.

“The real benefit to people is more than just a desk or office,” Ramsey says.

“It’s more of a collaborative environment that can be created.”

Ramsey will work out of the space along with graphic designer Chris Parks, Jarrett Green of Blink Interactive and Kenton Hansen of Go Banana, who also is Blink’s collective director.

There are five offices left to lease that are $450 a month, which includes Internet and utilities.

For $150 a month, there also are an unlimited number of subleases for a large, open area that includes Wi-Fi and access to desks and other seating.

“It’s kind of like a coffee shop almost,” Ramsey says.

Hansen says the space will allow a lot of sharing of ideas and work.

“This is going to give us the opportunity to be the hub, to facilitate the community,” he says. “That’s really what we’re interested in.”

Ramsey says the definition of creative types will be fairly loose. For instance, he’s talking with an interior designer about subleasing space.

There’s no website yet, but if you’re interested in finding out more, you can reach Ramsey on Twitter (@toddramsey). The space should be ready in January.

You don’t say

“What can I say? It’s like putting on the big boy pants.”

— Wichitan Jonathan George, developer of the Boxcar app that sends iPhone alerts when your name is mentioned on places like Twitter, on incorporating his company