For some time now, Dwight Wells has watched Ben Arnold seek a partner for his Corporate Caterers of Wichita, A.V.I. Seabar & Chophouse, Cafe 151 and Intrust Cafe.
“They come and hang out for a day, and they turn around and leave, and I never see them again,” Arnold says. “That’s been the story of my life. Everybody comes in here and sees how hard it is.”
Wells, who has worked for Arnold for seven years, finally approached him about buying half the business.
The deal will close at the end of the year.
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“We can continue our growth,” Arnold says.
That’s not what he was expecting.
“I’d pretty much decided to put a lid on it and slow things way down,” Arnold says of having to operate on his own. “It’s too big of a monster.”
Wells will handle the front side of the operation while Arnold remains behind the scenes.
“I’m in the kitchen,” Arnold says. “To this day I’m still the cook.”
“It’s a little bit passion … a little bit of a control freak.”
Arnold says Wells’ immediate goal will be to develop the outside entitites and be the face of the business at events.
The deal isn’t closing immediately because Wells needs time to wind down his job at the Dillons warehouse in Goddard. He’s been working that job and for Arnold.
“He’s not afraid to work,” Arnold says.
He says in the next month, he and Wells are going to make some decisions about moving forward. That includes where they’ll move the business.
“I would say our departure from Comotara is imminent,” Arnold says.
He says it’s about saving money. Arnold says Corporate Caterers has paid off more than half of the taxes it’s behind on and has less than $200,000 to go.
On an even more positive note, Arnold says, “A.V.I. is completely clear.”