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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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