Carrie Rengers

Estate sale coming at Zelman's downtown

Almost a year after David Moses announced that he was preparing his family's Zelman's building for development, the space at Douglas and St. Francis is ready to see some activity.

First, there's going to be an estate sale there Dec. 30 and 31 and Jan. 1.

"It'll be a very, very interesting sale because there's a lot of history," says Becky Leason of Becky's Estate Sales .

Moses' grandfather, Sam Zelman , immigrated here from Czechoslovakia in 1920 and started his Zelman's clothing store in the '20s.

There will be all kinds of store fixtures for sale, including glass counters, shelves, hangers, advertising displays, signs, a hall tree and a hat rack that Bonnie Bing apparently has already claimed.

"I looked at it in the window for years," Bing says.

There also is some jewelry for sale and some things from the former hotel upstairs, such as a few pieces of furniture.

"And we've got a wonderful antique cash register," Leason says. "Just absolutely beautiful."

She says she's still researching it to determine how old it is. She estimates it's not newer than 1920.

"It could easily be earlier."

The clothing from Zelman's is already gone.

The store closed in 2006 after Esther Moses —David Moses' mother and Sam Zelman's daughter — became physically unable to come to the store anymore.

Esther Moses had been a well-known fixture at the shop, which she walked to almost daily from her College Hill home.

So, with the estate sale happening, does that mean the family is getting ready for a new occupant for the two-story, 15,000-square-foot building?

David Moses, a lawyer at Case Moses Zimmerman & Martin , isn't saying.

You might keep an eye on the building, though.

Leason expects the sale to do well.

"I've done New Year's Day sales before, and they are wonderful," she says.

"This is a very historical landmark. It'll just be a place people want to go, and they're going to want to take their visitors."

Huddle up

The almost 50-year-old Huddle House chain of 24-hour restaurants is coming to Kansas for the first time.

Franchisee David Key , who is partnering with Ron C. Lee on several Huddle Houses here, was familiar with the brand from growing up in the South.

"There's everything from breakfast foods to comfort foods," he says of the diner.

Key is best known for trying to build a downtown arena when he operated the former Wichita Stealth indoor football team. He announced his plans in 2003, but financial problems prevented it from happening.

More recently, Key has been involved in franchising Value Place hotels.

Key likes the idea of having a franchise restaurant instead of starting one from scratch.

"There's some safety in the franchising," he says. "They've had 46 years to, you know, get it right."

Key says he considered other franchises before deciding on Huddle House.

"I just felt like they were a better fit."

Lee, who has been involved with business consulting and an accounting practice his wife owns, says the timing with Huddle House is great.

"They were going through a rebranding process," he says.

There are more than 400 Huddle Houses, mostly in the Southeast.

The Atlanta-based company was named for being a place for diners to "huddle" after football games.

Key and Lee's first Huddle House will be at 1410 E. Broadway Court in Newton.

"We were looking for more or less underserved communities," Key says. "They were arms wide open for us."

The partners haven't decided on future sites yet, but they plan at least five in the Wichita area.

Key and Lee are breaking ground shortly in Newton. Look for the first Huddle House to open in late March.

You don't say

"Boy, everyone around here seems to think you've got a lot of management potential. Do you know what that means? It means you haven't done a damn thing yet."

Sheplers CEO Bob Myers , quoted in a story on SmartBrief.com , about a JC Penney district manager's talk with him from 20 years ago

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