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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pizza taco, a Pratt favorite, coming to town

BY CARRIE RENGERS
The Wichita Eagle

The almost half-century old Charlie's Home of Pizza Taco is coming to Wichita as Charlie's PizzaTaco . The original restaurant, which sells pizzas in the shape of tacos among other things, is something of an institution in Pratt.

Owner Charlie Hoffman's son, Dave , is opening the business here in the former Pitas & Paninis space (and Yuca Latin Bistro before that) on Tyler just south of Central.

Dave Hoffman's partner in the business is his brother-in-law, Tim Holmes .

"They're going to try to retire me," Charlie Hoffman says.

He's OK with that — one of these days.

"I've done if for 45 years, and I'm kind of wearing out."

Dave Hoffman owns Golden, Colo.-based Hoffco Brands , which manufactures and distributes about 20 brands — and 1,200 SKUs (stock-keeping units) —of products such as cell phone accessories, eyewear and LED lights.

"We do hot gadgets that retailers want to buy," Hoffman says.

And now he wants to go into the restaurant business?

"I must be crazy, huh?"

He's already making plans for almost a dozen of the restaurants followed by franchises.

"We're taking (my father's) whole idea and adding marketing to it because that's what I do," Hoffman says.

He first began cooking at his father's restaurant at age 7. He hasn't tired of the food.

"I travel the world," Hoffman says. "So I eat out all the time."

He routinely thinks back to the pizza tacos.

"I always think those are way better than what I'm eating now," Hoffman says. "I always keep that vision that at the right time I'd give it a run."

After establishing the Wichita restaurant, which will open in late October, Hoffman is thinking of locations in college towns such as Manhattan, where there are young people who would gravitate to this kind of food.

"It's unique food that nobody in Wichita does," Holmes says.

Charlie Hoffman says his pizza tacos, which are "as full as you can put them," already have a following in Wichita.

"I've got customers in Wichita (who) drive down here to get them," he says.

The younger Hoffman says he's simply carrying on his father's tradition.

"My whole endeavor here is just to see his dream come true," Dave Hoffman says. "It's a winner."

Taking back the title

Wichitans still call their home the Air Capital of the World , but the Wichita Aero Club wants to make sure others call it that, too.

"There's other cities taking a little bit of a run (at it) if you will," says Dave Franson , Aero Club executive director.

He says there are five main aviation clusters in the world: Wichita, Seattle, Montreal, Dallas and Toulouse, France.

"We continue to hold fast to the claim that we are the Air Capital of the World," Franson says.

So the club and KPTS , Channel 8 , unveiled a new "reclaim the name" campaign and logo Thursday night during the premiere of the second season of PBS's "The Aviators "at the National Center for Aviation Training .

"We just decided, hey, nowhere else has built anywhere close to the number of airplanes we've built here," Franson says. There are "over 280,000 airplanes that have been built in Wichita, Kansas, since we started building them."

He says the new Greteman Group -designed logo is an updated version of the original Air Capital of the World logo the Wichita chamber first unveiled in 1928 after a contest.

"We're kind of jumping the gun a little bit," Franson says. "We're going to (reprise) this same act at NBAA."

The National Business Aviation Association annual meeting is next month, and Franson says there will be a new tagline to go with the new logo.

So what does he want to tell the world then?

"Wichita has been the Air Capital of the World since at least 1928, when we first took the title ... and we're not giving it up anytime soon."

You don't say

"I've cashed the checks and slept since then."

Cindy Carnahan , whose Carnahan Group grossed more than any other residential real estate group in Wichita in 2010 — $59 million — even though a recent ranking didn't say she was top dog because Carnahan didn't take the time to report her numbers

Got a hot tip or quirky story? Call Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or e-mail crengers@wichitaeagle.com.

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