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Wichita barbecue chain slated to take portion of former Blockbuster video store; gift wrapping service opens downtown


A barbecue restaurant right next door to a mattress store. It sounds like a prescription for hibernation. It also is the latest plan to renovate the former Blockbuster video store on 23rd Street.

Plans have been filed at Lawrence City Hall that call for the building, 1516 W. 23rd St., to be roughly equally divided between a Wichita-based barbecue restaurant and a mattress store.

Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q is set to go into the western half of the old Blockbuster building. An employee at the restaurant's corporate office confirmed the company has signed a lease for the space, but a timeline for the restaurant's opening wasn't immediately available.

According to its website, Hog Wild has locations in Wichita, Hutchinson, Salina and El Dorado. And it also has the type of traditional barbecue that you would expect. That includes brisket, pulled pork, hot links, turkey breast, pulled chicken, ribs and ham. It appears the menu also will include giant stuffed potatoes and something called "salad." I speak fluent barbecue, but I'm not familiar with this thing called salad.

As for the mattress store, which will occupy the east half of the building, I don't have any information on who that may be. For whatever it is worth, back in July I was hearing quite a few rumblings in the development sector that the national chain Mattress Hub was exploring possibilities in the Lawrence market. No confirmation on whether that is the tenant, but it might be one worth keeping an eye on. I have a call in to the owner of the building, which is a trust controlled by successful Wichita businessman Larry Fugate.

I'll keep my ears open for news on that front. In the meantime, I suppose I ought to find out one other important piece of information: Is the restaurant going to look at me funny when I come to eat BBQ in my pajamas?

In other news and notes from around town:

• Holy fruitcake, there are only 13 more days until Christmas. If you are one of those people who have already started Christmas shopping, you may have a few presents that need wrapped. Now, downtown Lawrence has a new business that specializes in wrapping presents of all sorts.

It's A Wrap has opened in a portion of the Extra Virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar store at 937 Massachusetts St. Ellen Frantz-Wolfe has opened the store, and will keep it open through the Christmas season and perhaps beyond, if demand calls for it.

Frantz-Wolfe used to work in a high-end Dallas gift wrapping shop that routinely used to wrap about 4,000 gifts during the holiday season.

"I've just always enjoyed creating the designs and matching the ribbons and the wraps," Frantz-Wolfe said.

She said said she has about 18 designs featuring combinations of paper and bows, but also can create custom wrapping designs. Prices range from about $3.50 to $12 per package, depending on the size of the item being wrapped.

"I just think an expertly wrapped present makes a gift more special," Frantz-Wolfe said. "It is like having a fabulously cooked dinner and also having it presented in a beautiful way."

• One quick piece of Lawrence City Hall news for you. Sometimes I swear Lawrence City Hall has a set of catacombs where issues go to never be heard of again. And I thought the issue or providing a pay raise to Lawrence city commissioners may have been one of them. But it appears not. Mayor Mike Dever has said he wants to bring the issue of city commissioner pay back up for debate, perhaps as soon as Tuesday's meeting. The city's agenda for Tuesday's meeting will be out shortly, so I'll keep an eye out for that.

If you remember back in April, outgoing City Commissioner Aron Cromwell suggested the commission take a look at raising the annual salary for commissioners. Commissioners are paid $9,000 per year, or $10,000, if you are serving as mayor. Cromwell said that level of pay isn't commensurate with the amount of work that goes into the position, and he worried that the low salary effectively keeps some very qualified people from even considering running for the position.

Cromwell said he thought the commission should consider raising the annual salary to be somewhere between $25,000 to $35,000 per year. Commissioners, at the time, said it was an issue they likely would consider. Now, about eight months later, it looks like they might.

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  • Comments

    Greg DiVilbiss 3 years, 2 months ago

    I have eaten there several times while in Wichita. I have always enjoyed it. I tried to recruit them to come to one of our Johnson County sites, a couple of years ago.

    John Graham 3 years, 2 months ago

    How many hours per year do the commissioners claim they work solely on city business? Do they have any objective documentation of time spent other than in council meetings? Before the taxpayers can judge whether pay is fair or not we should be informed of time actually worked.

    Matthew Herbert 3 years, 2 months ago

    The danger of paying commissioners a 'career' wage is of course that you will get career politicians. At $9,000 per year, you force commissioner to remain an active part of the Lawrence marketplace. Having an actual understanding of reality is a plus in politicians

    Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

    The current pay is not scaring anyone away from the job. Mike Amyx has a long history between being a County and City Commissioner. Any pay increases should be put to the voters otherwise we have kind of a foxes in the chicken coop situation.

    The pay increase could be based on how many years our local politicians have decreased taxes over the years instead of expanding our tax bills in the name of improving our quality of life? Taxes are increased in a variety of ways. User fees and water rates are taxes. Installing miles of new infrastructure is essentially a tax increase.

    The pay increase could be based on how many times the commissioners granted taxpayers the privileges of voting on projects such as Rock Chalk instead of ignoring taxpayers.

    A real estate person informed me about two weeks that taxes in Lawrence have increased about 100% over the last 15 years or so. Bedroom communities are tax intensive projects. Flooding markets is a tax intensive project that is never taxpayer friendly.

    While we may get excited when the county increases the value of our property that is essentially a tax increase. Real market value can be quite different. The BUSHCO home loan fraud project inflated property values beyond reality. When a homeowner needs to shell out $30,000 to satisfy a financial institution in order to close out a residential sale might indicate a market gone awry.

    Many things to consider.

    John Graham 3 years, 2 months ago

    Actually it was Clinton that pushed the whole everyone deserves to own a home project that encouraged (forced) banks to make questionable mortgages. So you can thank a democrat for starting the whole mess.

    Richard Heckler 3 years, 2 months ago

    Are you implying that home loan fraud was included in the Clinton philosophy? That bankers were not responsible for approving loans that did not meet guidelines?

    The BUSHCO home loan fraud project ultimately put millions out of work that were meeting their obligations for years and blew their retirement and savings trying to keep their homes.

    We need Glass-Steagal back because ethics and discipline do not rule. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/03/071603.asp

    Often, government plays a role in bubbles. The housing bubble was in part generated by the Federal Reserve maintaining low interest rates. Easy money meant readily obtainable loans and, at least in the short run, low monthly payments. Also, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan denied the housing bubble’s existence—not fraud exactly, but deception that kept the bubble going. (Greenspan, whose view was ideologically driven, got support in his bubble denial from the academic work of the man who was to be his successor, Ben Bernanke.) http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

    Scott Burkhart 3 years, 2 months ago

    No, I'm not implying it. I am stating that Glass-Steagal was repealed under President William Jefferson Clinton in 1999. Barney Frank and Frank Dodd were the driving force behind it. Additionally bad home loans were marketed to individuals that could not afford them under the guise that everyone had a "right" to a home and by fiat, home loan regardless of their ability to pay it back. It was do gooders, like yourself, Merrill, that brought our economy to its knees. Not Bushco. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisisClinton.

    Scott Burkhart 3 years, 2 months ago

    Additionally, Democrats pressured banks to make those loans all in the name of "equality". You are such a Kool-Aid drinker, Merrill. I honestly can't believe that you are incapable of reading from the Library of Congress about who signed what and when.

    Greg DiVilbiss 3 years, 2 months ago

    I like the Biemer's Hot Vinegar sauce on their Pulled Pork and some mixed in with the slaw.

    I eat at Biggs pretty often as well, and in fact got a slab on Tuesday.

    Robert Rauktis 3 years, 2 months ago

    "and something called "salad." <<<< good line.

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