Carrie Rengers

Corporate Caterers to lease banquet hall

Since last year, Ben Arnold of Corporate Caterers of Wichita has been eyeing the former Olive Tree banquet hall at Comotara Center at 29th and Rock Road for expansion.

He didn't think a deal would happen, though, because he doesn't need the former Olive Tree and Chelsea's restaurant space.

"It was too much space," he says.

Now, he's worked out an arrangement with RP Realty Partners to take just the banquet room.

RP will lease the two restaurant spaces for retail.

Late last year, Latour Management was evicted for nonpayment of rent following a feud over maintenance issues.

Antoine Toubia, the late founder of the company, first opened a restaurant there in 1987.

Arnold will sign a lease for the 13,200 square feet of banquet and kitchen space Friday.

By May 1, following some remodeling, he'll be ready to accept catering functions for up to 400 people.

He will keep his space at Douglas and West through the end of the year, and customers can choose to have events on the west side or the east side.

Then, in January, Arnold will close the west-side banquet facility and move his kitchen east.

"It's slow enough that I can kill business one week without it killing me," Arnold says of timing it for early in the year.

The kitchen in his new space needs extensive remodeling, Arnold says, so he'll continue to cook on the west side until next year's move.

In addition to catering events at the east-side space, Arnold says customers also can rent the room and use another food provider.

Arnold and his wife, Denise , will sign a 10-year lease for the banquet room.

Isn't that a big commitment?

"Yes, it is."

'Ideal situation'

Not long after Connie Hamilton opened her Connie's Cookies 20 years ago, customers began asking if she would consider allowing her cookie dough to be used for children's fundraisers.

It is "one of the things I was always afraid to do," Hamilton says.

With limited storage at her bakery, her concern was that some gung-ho kids would sell 1,500 tubs of dough, and she'd have nowhere to put them.

"Now our capacity is unlimited," Hamilton says.

That's thanks to her new arrangement with New York's Kerr Enterprises to sell her cookies internationally.

The co-packer that is making the dough for international distribution can make dough for fundraisers and then truck it to schools.

"They have mixers that are the size of my PT Cruiser. I'm not kidding," Hamilton says. "So they are able to produce really, really large quantities."

Hamilton feels like the tubs of dough could be beneficial for fundraisers because they're local products that people recognize and might be inclined to purchase more of.

She's now finalizing pricing and packaging on the tubs.

Hamilton says she already knows that $5 from each tub will go to the organization selling them.

"It's just an ideal situation."

Don't be like Wichita?

A Washington, D.C., company called Revolution Media Group created a video in support of a Tulsa ballot initiative that slams Wichita in the process.

The video is titled "Don't Be Like Wichita ."

It was for a 2007 campaign to raise money to develop the river in Tulsa. The client never used the video, but it's now getting attention because Revolution posted it five days ago on Vimeo along with some other videos in an effort at social networking.

"You vote no, and we'll end up being Wichita," a little boy says at the end of the video.

To which another boy throws up his hands and hides his eyes in disgust.

Numerous Wichitans have commented on Vimeo.

Wade Hampton directed viewers to a video touting Wichita.

Lonny Quattlebaum said, "I think you mean ... WichitAWESOME!"

And Kevin Wildt said, "Kansas ... at least it's not Oklahoma."

To which someone with Revolution commented:

"My Wichita Peeps — This was for a ballot initiative campaign to develop Tulsa's rivers. We threw the "Wichita" portion in b/c of the slight feud between the two cities. On a personal note, I love Wichita. Please take no offense, just a little political storytelling!"

Revolution has removed the video from Vimeo.

You don't say

"I'm counting down the days."

Doc Green's co-owner Tammi Kuthan , who can't wait for the Best Buy to open April 24th near her NewMarket Square site to help drive traffic