Carrie Rengers

Tax issue won't stop Crown Uptown

Crown Uptown Theatre is almost $62,000 behind in federal taxes, but Robert Brinkley says he's on a payment plan and that the business won't be affected.

"Our doors are open, and we remain in business," he says. "We are planning on having a successful future here."

Brinkley is president of Uptown Management Group , which took over the theater near Douglas and Hillside in 2009.

He says the delinquent taxes are from 2009 and early 2010.

"I had a bookkeeper here who wasn't keeping up on it," Brinkley says.

He says he's fired that person.

"It's real frustrating for me right now," Brinkley says.

He says if it were a busier time of the year — such as the holiday season — he would have written a check to cover the taxes.

"We use that business to help us survive through the first three lean months of the year," Brinkley says.

"We're just treading water till we get to the busy time of our business."

He says dinner theaters — and theaters in general — don't draw crowds like they used to.

"Those entertainment dollars, they're spread thin as it is. Now we have to diversify and do other things."

That means renting the space for weddings, parties and other events.

"I want people to understand we're a venue, not just a dinner theater," Brinkley says. "Anyone who has interest in using our venue for whatever event, we're open to that."

One tequila, two...

It won't be in time for this year's Cinco de Mayo, but the former Top China Buffet space at 3320 N. Rock Road is reverting back to a Mexican restaurant.

Luis Zambrano plans to open El Agave Mexican Restaurant in the 5,600 square feet where Monterrey Mexican Grill was before Top China Buffet.

Some Wichitans still know the Rock Road space best from when it was home to Red Hot & Blue .

El Agave is named for the plant used to make tequila.

"We're going to ... try to get over 100 tequilas if possible, so we're going to have a lot of pretty good margaritas," Zambrano says.

He thinks it will take about three months to open, though that depends on several things.

For instance, he's ordering booths, tables and decorations from Mexico "just to give it a different look," and he's not sure how long that will take.

"When people walk in there, they'll be like, whoa, I can feel the atmosphere," Zambrano says of the look he's going for.

Andy Boyd of Walter Morris Cos. handled the lease.

Zambrano has worked for other restaurants but never owned one himself.

"I just don't want to be working for somebody else," he says. "I'd rather make the profit for myself than for other people."

You don't say

"Fourth time we get to keep the phone."

Bill Young of the Optimist Club of West Wichita , joking during the Tuesday meeting about the increasingly expensive fines the club charges when a member's cellphone rings during a meeting