Pita Pit is returning to Wichita under new ownership.
“This is kind of a mid-life crisis for me,” says Cammy Onek, an El Dorado resident who has been in education and coaching for years.
She and her husband, Chad, are opening a Pita Pit in the former Froz space in Occidental Management’s Northrock Retail Center at 3242 N. Rock Road. Another franchisee previously had a Pita Pit at 320 N. Rock Road.
The Oneks were considering becoming franchisees when they learned Pita Pit is based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Cammy Onek has relatives and visited every year growing up.
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“For me, that was one of those a-ha moments,” she says.
What initially attracted her, Onek says, is that Pita Pit is healthy fast food.
“What really caught me is it’s just a new way to eat.”
There are meat and veggie pitas, breakfast pitas, and soups and salads.
“We want you to feel better when you walk out the door than when you walk in,” Onek says.
The Oneks are partners in the business with Tim and Michelle Aberson and Lowell and Marti Aberson.
“Pretty much it will be my baby to be in there day in and day out,” Onek says.
She plans to approach it as she would being a coach or a principal, meaning she’ll be there every day and be visible.
“That’s how I’m going to make it or break it.”
Onek says Pita Pit, which has about 200 restaurants nationally along with international ones as well, has refocused its support for franchisees.
“There’s quite an extensive plan that we’re going to follow,” she says.
Onek hopes to eventually have a location near Wichita State University and one on the west side as well.
“Honestly, we’ve got to start with one.”
Occidental’s Stephanie Wiens handled the deal along with Chris Newkirk of Kessinger/Hunter & Co. in Kansas City.
The Pita Pit lease brings the Northrock Retail Center back to 100 percent occupancy, says Occidental president Chad Stafford.
Wasabi Japanese Restaurant opened there in November.
Onek says her first Pita Pit will open sometime in March.
“We thought starting out on Rock would be a great way to get our name out there.”
The last drop
Smoky Hill Vineyards & Winery in Salina is closing, which means the winery’s Wichita store also is going out of business.
Under the Cork at NewMarket Square will close late this month.
“The winery has really been flourishing,” says owner Norm Jennings.
The problem is he and his wife, Jen, have a new calling.
“Essentially, about two years ago the Lord started to take us on a journey of working with different couples, premarital couples and couples in crisis, and students on just developing healthy relationships,” Jennings says.
They have At Stake Ministries.
He says it’s not feasible to keep the winery and let someone else run it.
“It’s very hard just to hire somebody that can manage the processes,” he says.
He tried selling the winery, but that proved tough, too.
“It’s not a viable investment,” Jennings says. “You really have to be owner-operators. You really need to find somebody that that’s their dream.”
He says there aren’t many winemakers looking to move to the Midwest. Also, as the state’s largest winery, Jennings says the business is too big to sell to many potential buyers, such as retirees looking to purchase a small winery.
Smoky Hill was his late father Stephen’s dream, and Jennings says his wines will live on.
“The name brand will be sold to another winery so a lot of the wines that people have come to know and love … will be sold,” he says.
The NewMarket and Wilson, Kan., Smoky Hill retail shops will close this month, and the winery itself will close next month. Within a year, Jennings expects to have news on who will continue making Smoky Hill wines.
“We’re really confident that customers are going to be able to find the same wines.”
You don’t say
“The people who came really liked it, but I just couldn’t get enough people there in time to save it.”
– Windy DeMoura, who on Friday closed her Sloppy Joe’s restaurant on West Street after six months in business
Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.