Editor's note: This story was first published July 4, 2010
Wichita, you apparently love the Cheesecake Factory, but — we're sorry to report — it does not love you.
Not only is it unlikely that the California-based chain is coming to Wichita any year soon, no one with the company would comment on the restaurant finishing No. 1 on our list of what Wichitans want here.
The company referred calls to its outside public relations firm. A firm representative said she would send a standard quote the Cheesecake Factory has at the ready for just such stories.
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But, we protested, more than 3,000 Wichita-area residents voted for their favorite national and regional restaurants and retailers. You got 1,265 votes. Isn't that worth some comment?
At No. 2 with 1,104 votes is Costco, which CEO Jim Sinegal was happy to discuss.
"I was a little disappointed that we came in second," Sinegal said, laughing. "I've got to be prepared to deal with these little disappointments in life."
Costco has looked at coming to the Wichita market in the past and once was close to a deal.
"I think it's just a question of not landing at the right site and getting the right deal," Sinegal said. "At any point and time, we probably have 100 different sites we're looking at."
He said Wichita is plenty big to support a Costco.
"That's certainly, I think, a vibrant enough community for us to consider," Sinegal said. "It's really more a question of other priorities — things got in the way."
Costco and Cheesecake Factory are part of what inspired The Eagle's poll.
For years, Wichitans have asked whether the businesses might come here.
Wichitan John Stangle, who owns Creative Awards & Screen Printing, is so devoted to Costco he phones or e-mails the company every six months asking it to consider Wichita.
There are a lot of other businesses Wichitans want. So before we conducted a formal poll, we asked readers for suggestions of what should be on the list.
Hundreds replied. We picked what seemed to be the favorites and then had a more formal poll of almost 60 restaurants and retailers. Readers could choose five each.
Almost 3,300 people voted for a total of more than 16,000 votes.
Some companies, like Cheesecake Factory, didn't seem to care about making the list.
Others, like White Castle and Costco, did.
"We think Wichita is a great town," Sinegal said.
"My guess is you've probably stimulated my thought process to take another look at it," he said. "You may hear from us at some point."