Carrie Rengers

$2 million liquidation in the works for DTY Direct

A couple of years after opening DTY Direct, brothers Mark and Mike Marney are liquidating the business.

When Have You Heard? first called the company a few months ago, a representative said the online site was not closing but the retail shop at 9629 E. Kellogg was closed for the winter.

Mark Marney didn’t return calls to discuss the liquidation. A woman who answered the phone at DTY on Thursday said, “I’m sorry, we have no comment,” and hung up.

Tom Rine of Omaha-based Rine Auctioneers confirms there will be a liquidation of more than $2 million in high-end merchandise, such as gas grills, saunas, patio furniture, kitchen appliances, cutlery, and pots and pans on March 31 and April 1.

“One like this doesn’t come along very often,” he says. “This is phenomenal.”

Prices will be slashed by up to 70 percent.

“We’re going to move the merchandise,” Rine says.

He predicts it will take a while to do it, though, given that there’s 40,000 square feet of products.

“The showroom is absolutely packed full of stuff.”

Rine says more liquidation will take place on the weekends after Easter, assuming it’s needed, and there will be an auction of furniture and equipment at the end of April.

The Marneys formerly owned Golf Warehouse.

“They had the marketing skills,” Rine says.

He wonders whether they used them, though.

“If I had to say what was going on here, I’d have to say they didn’t advertise.”

The last supper

The Chick-fil-A opening at Central and Rock may be huge news here this week, but the new Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Littleton, Colo., has unintentionally pulled off the best opening-week publicity stunt.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich ate his final meal there before heading for a 14-year prison stay following corruption convictions. Federal Correctional Institution Englewood is a couple of miles from Freddy’s.

“I’m not sure if he had a Chicago dog,” says Freddy’s partner Scott Redler. “That’s the big question.”

Actually, Blagojevich had the patty melt.

There was something of an impromptu news conference with Blagojevich as reporters gathered around him while he dined. Redler says helicopters circled overhead. A number of national media outlets reported where Blagojevich ate or shot pictures of him at the restaurant.

“I hope he has the logo on his Freddy’s cup facing out,” Redler says.

Even he’s a bit surprised that of all the restaurants where Blagojevich could eat his final meal on the outside, he chose Freddy’s, though he thinks it’s a great testimonial.

It might lead to a new strategy for the Wichita-based chain.

“We think prisons are really our new target market,” Redler says, joking. “ ‘Have a last meal at Freddy’s.’ ”

Zesty idea

Some lucky Wichitans have known for years that dinner at Jackie Smith’s house is one of the hottest tickets in town.

Now, everyone is invited.

Smith is starting Zest for Cooking, a cooking school she plans in her east-side home (

“I am just enthused about teaching people to cook,” says Smith, a former home economist.

She’s also taught cooking classes in the Williams-Sonoma store at Bradley Fair.

“Each class will touch upon different things,” Smith says of what Zest for Cooking will offer.

Some classes will be more complex and some more basic, but each one will feature a list of skills that participants can learn along with dishes.

Smith wants to emphasize technique and skill but also ingredient exploration and sensory training and awareness. She says that means “learning how to taste and smell and feel as part of the whole cooking process.”

Participants should understand how each ingredient can transform to play a role in a dish “rather than just saying, ‘Oh, it takes half a cup of this.’ ”

Each year, Smith hopes to have a new theme for her classes. This year, it’s Rome, which means a couple of features a month on cooking from there. Classes won’t be limited to that, though. There will be quick-and-easy recipes, seasonal dishes — including using farmers market finds — and cooking from chefs’ cookbooks.

Classes start in April. Pricing depends on ingredients and level of difficulty.

Smith says she’s been cooking since childhood in Iowa, where her parents often entertained.

“Everything just kind of centered around food, it seemed.”

More recently, she’s been cooking for her husband, surgeon John Smith, and other family and friends.

The idea, though, is to help others become such skilled cooks, they no longer need to wait for an invitation from her.

You don’t say

“I thought I was back home. … You just need a couple camels out there.”

– Restaurateur Melad Stephan on how the tents camped at the new Chick-fil-A remind him of his native Lebanon

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at