The following is an excerpt from the Jan. 8 issue of The Wichita Eagle. Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State's Center for Economic Development and Business Research, contributed to the article.
Before arena events, dinner will be a main concern
Mary Wright's decision this week to keep the Old Mill Tasty Shop open on event nights at Intrust Bank Arena surprised even her.
"We've been here for a while and I'm close to retirement age, so my first thought was to just see what happens with the businesses here on our block of Douglas," said Wright, owner of the Old Mill at 604 E. Douglas.
Instead, unexpected lines of enthusiastic diners during the arena open house last Saturday changed her mind.
"I think the excitement the public felt when they got their first look at the arena convinced me to open," Wright said.
Old Mill's longer hours are just one of many issues Old Town restaurateurs are sorting out as the arena opens Saturday with a sold-out concert by Brad Paisley.
The arena and its events will force downtown restaurateurs out of their longtime comfort zones, said Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State's Center for Economic Development and Business Research.
But that's a good thing, Hill said.
"There may well be a need for these people to reposition themselves," he said, "figure out how to keep your loyal customers satisfied while at the same time taking the potential the arena generates and growing your market."