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Shorty Small’s calls it quits

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, at 11:15 p.m.

Shorty Small’s last day of business in Wichita was Sunday.

“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.”

Sales have been better since Christmas, she says, “but not enough.”

The chain, which at one time had eight restaurants and now has four, had planned an east-side site as well.

“We never got that west side one quite profitable enough,” Harsha says.

“We worked really hard to keep Wichita … on the team,” she says. “It wasn’t for lack of effort.”

Harsha says the restaurant had great employees and great landlords in Bill and W.G. Farha.

“They were wonderful and supportive and really looked for ways to be a great partner.”

She says she hopes to work with them again on another Shorty Small’s one day.

“We would love to serve Wichita again in the future,” Harsha says. “I think people loved our food.

“It’s been a good experience. It’s just unfortunate that it wasn’t profitable.”

Tough decision

As aging McDonald’s sites around the city are torn down and rebuilt in the chain’s latest style, there’s one that will be torn down and not rebuilt at the same spot.

The McDonald’s on Woodlawn just south of 13th Street, which has been there for 40 years, will close late next month.

“In the short term, yes, unfortunately, we’re closing at that location,” says Dale Carter, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Vicki.

He says the lot isn’t big enough to handle the new McDonald’s model or he would rebuild there.

“I would love to, yes,” Carter says. “We’ve watched our kids and a heck of a lot of other kids grow up visiting that McDonald’s.”

The Carters own five of the city’s couple of dozen McDonald’s restaurants.

Carter says brokers have been looking for a new site for him.

“We just haven’t been able to find a suitable location,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s McDonald’s decision. At this point, McDonald’s is not comfortable that they have the right spot.”

The Carters have owned the Woodlawn McDonald’s since 1997. It will close after business on March 26.

“Personally, it’s very tough for us to do,” Carter says. “We will miss being there.”

You don’t say

“No, but we’re always looking for new products.”

– The response of Todd Winter, owner of the aviation instrument and avionics company Mid-Continent Instruments & Avionics, when asked if his company sells tubas

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

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

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