Carrie Rengers

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General manager, ‘pie guy’ now owns Spear’s restaurant

02/01/2014 7:21 AM

02/01/2014 7:22 AM

Officially, Dan Crandall has been the general manager of Spear’s Restaurant & Pie Shop for most of the 26 years he’s worked there.

Unofficially, he’s known as “the pie guy.”

Now, he has a new title: owner.

“It’s really one of these neat deals,” Crandall says. “It’s kind of a progression of things that I’ll just take over.”

The business has been in the Spear family since Gene and Betty Spear founded it in 1956. Spear’s had a chain of six restaurants at one time. Now, it has one restaurant at 4323 W. Maple.

The Spears’ son, Randy Spear, first became a co-owner in 1980. Through the years, various family members have been part of the business, but Spear has been the sole owner for the last decade.

“It feels really good going with Dan,” Spear says of selling. He calls it “kind of a mixed blessing, I guess.”

“It would be much harder if it was someone else coming in that we weren’t familiar with. Dan has been a strong member of our team for so long that it’s very easy for it to happen now.”

Crandall says he’s “worked with him very, very closely over the years” and he “pretty much (knows) everything there is to know about it.”

Still, he says that “it’s a really scary venture.”

“I’m just trying to get my wits about me and just go forward.”

Spear’s Catering is part of the sale.

Crandall says he doesn’t plan a lot of changes, but there will be some.

“Going forward, you’ll see a lot of the same things, and yet Dan’s a creative and an out-of-the-box thinker and is anxious to try new things,” Spear says.

That includes more pies.

“Eventually I would like to broaden our pie sales into a wholesale level,” Crandall says. “That’s always been a goal of mine.”

The French silk pie is his personal favorite, although if the season is right, Crandall loves the strawberry glaze pie.

“He is our expert on pies,” Spear says. “That is obviously one of the things we have become known for.”

Spear says the restaurant is fortunate to have longtime employees and customers. Crandall agrees.

“We’ve done a real good job of taking care of our customers.”

He says Spear’s is a “great company, great family.”

“I just want to continue on the tradition.”

Papa’s plans

Papa Murphy’s is not going to open a new store in the 21st and Amidon area this year as planned, but it likely will happen next year.

Last year, the chain of take-and-bake pizzas started letting customers know about its plans for 21st and Amidon. That’s when the chain and its nine stores in Wichita were owned by Papa John’s corporate.

Now there’s a new owner, Papa’s Partners, which is a group of partners from Kansas City.

“You know how it goes when you take over new ownership,” says district manager Bryan Martin.

He says the owners are going to focus on best practices for now and put off expansion plans until later.

“The focus is the nine stores that are pre-existing right now,” Martin says.

“Wichita’s definitely an area that we’re looking to grow. It’s definitely a market that Papa Murphy’s is excited about being in, and we’re looking into it.”

You don’t say

“Good thing these guys aren’t in the amputation business.”

– Sedgwick County Manager William Buchanan in a Facebook post about his dentist’s office, which called after a Thursday root canal to say, “We did the wrong tooth.”

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

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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