The partners of Wichita’s Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Alliance haven’t been looking to get into the restaurant business, and they weren’t even looking for restaurant space to move into.
That’s what they’re now doing, though, by moving their east-side office to the former Ciao Italian Kitchen space at the Waterfront.
“It was more of the feel of the restaurant,” Greg Fox says of what attracted him and partners Chris Noffert and Brady Barnard, Fox’s step-daughter.
The feel includes what Fox calls a “grand, open ceiling” that looks like waves, a few restaurant booths that will remain, an outdoor patio and a bar that they’ll convert to a coffee bar.
When Realty World Alliance converted to the Better Homes brand in January 2015, Fox says it elevated the company “to a brand that believes this is all about lifestyle.”
He says his office at 6100 E. Central, which is near Central and Woodlawn, is not, though.
“Our current office is just like every other real estate office out there.”
There are meeting rooms, agent offices and a small lobby.
“I want to make this more about a lifestyle that is a consumer experience,” Fox says. “It’s all about the consumer getting more of an experience rather than, ‘These are the houses we’re going to look at.’”
Fox says he and his partners know everything related to their business is online these days.
“But that doesn’t mean you give up on the user experience altogether,” he says. “You ought to meet an agent at the office the first time.”
He envisions people casually, comfortably hanging out on the patio, at the booths and at the coffee bar.
“There’s just all sorts of space so you can sit with a client and make them feel very relaxed and at home.”
There still will be some agent offices, too, in the 4,200-square-foot space.
Fox says remodeling will include tearing out the kitchen and grill areas and converting the bar, but many of the restaurant’s touches will remain. The converted space should be ready in October.
The space, which is just north of the main Waterfront retail and restaurant area at 13th and Webb, debuted in 2006 as the restaurant Piztros. It closed in 2008.
Sabor and then Press followed before Ciao opened in the space in 2011.
Fox and Don Piros of Landmark Commercial Real Estate handled the deal for the new east-side Better Homes space.
The west-side Better Homes office at 6617 W. Central, which is just east of Ridge Road, is staying the same. Fox says the west-side office is a more traditional real estate office.
He says he thinks that’s not the future for real estate offices.
“I look at other real estate offices,” Fox says of traveling nationally.
He says the trends are more toward consumer experiences.
“We are really kind of hitting what the trend is in the country.”