Carrie Rengers

Space at Eaton Place

Along with the current effort at downtown revitalization, Eaton Place is looking to revive its commercial occupancy. Leo Goseland of Plaza Real Estate is heading that effort.

"We're on a really, really good predevelopment synergy... between business, government and national advisors to make this a pretty cool downtown," he says. "We'd like to be one of the anchors to that."

He says Eaton Place, which is at Douglas and St. Francis, has gone through several phases in recent years.

"The first generation was nobody and artists back in 2001."

Then, he says, "It kind of became offices."

That was followed by "a restaurant that we were really proud of for a while."

That was Eaton Steakhouse , which Eaton Place evicted last year for failure to pay rent.

"We're really still trying to focus on a restaurant," Goseland says. "One of the things that's kind of the problem is the size of it."

The first-floor area is 10,000 square feet.

Goseland says the space can be pared down to 7,000 square feet by closing off the mezzanine area, "which would be really cool office space."

The restaurant area accounts for 33 percent of the commercial space Eaton Place has to lease. Not including that space, the building's commercial occupancy is about 50 percent.

Goseland says the general effort to help revive downtown is helping his work, too.

"That's becoming a road map, so to speak," he says. "I've been able to use that with some national people. It hasn't resulted in tenants just yet, but some of this takes a year or so down the road."

Goseland has a couple of strategies.

"We're putting on some very aggressive first-year rents," he says.

Also, he says, "You've got to go out and find your people. You're not going to post it on a website" and get results, he says.

Goseland is focusing on potential long-term tenants, but he's also looking for cheerleaders for downtown.

"I'd like to see ... high-profile types of businesses that have the same interests in downtown that a lot of us do."

From warm to cold?

In June, a BenchWarmers Tavern & Grill spokeswoman told Have You Heard? that CEO Kevin Foote helps set the business apart because he's an executive chef.

He's setting BenchWarmers apart for a new reason now.

According to newspapers in Colorado, where the chain is based, Foote was arrested last week on suspicion of a parole violation.

BenchWarmers signed a lease for the former Highlands Gastropub and Cardroom at 3731 N. Rock Road and had at least one more site planned for Wichita.

The Boulder Daily Camera quoted a Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman as saying Foote, 47, was arrested Wednesday for not telling his parole officers that he works around liquor and financial records.

The newspaper reports that for a 10-year period ending in 2003, Foote was arrested in Colorado about a dozen times on suspicions of various crimes, such as larceny, theft and fraud.

The Camera reports that Foote served time in prison after pleading guilty to being a habitual criminal and to a single count of felony larceny.

BenchWarmers has closed several Colorado sites.

"We haven't been paid since June 30," Mindy Bulmer , BenchWarmers' regional manager, told the Camera. "Nobody has."

The chain also has canceled plans to open 17 new sites.

It's not clear if the future Wichita sites are some of the ones that won't happen.

No one with BenchWarmers returned calls for comment.

On Sunday, Foote filed a theft complaint from the Boulder County Jail alleging that vendors and some former employees took sports memorabilia, televisions and pictures from his restaurants, which he says some company officials directed them to do in lieu of pay.

The Erie, Colo., police department is checking to see if Foote has grounds to make the complaint since he's listed as an employee — not an owner — in the business.

Look for an update on the BenchWarmers situation soon.

You don't say

"How many people have attended a golf tournament where an airplane has landed on the fairway?"

Wichita Aero Club executive director Dave Franson , speaking at the club's golf tournament Sunday at Crestview where Cessna Aircraft pilot Kirby Ortega landed Rose Pelton's Skycatcher on the 18th fairway