Member Minute with Connie’s Mexico Café

2227 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS 67219 | 316-832-9636
Facebook: Connie’s Mexico Café
Instagram: @conniesmexico

One of Wichita’s oldest and most-loved Mexican restaurants, Connie’s Mexico Café is celebrating 55 years in business this month. The founders of the restaurant, Ralph and Connie Lopez, proved that you don’t need a fancy degree to do well in life — just a commitment to work hard and a desire to chase the American dream. They passed that work ethic on to their daughter Carmen Rosales, who now owns the restaurant, and she is passing it down to her children and grandchildren.

Carmen shares her passion for her family-owned restaurant and the broader Wichita community in this Small Business Week Member Minute Profile.

Please tell us a little bit about your business.
Connie’s Mexico Cafe was started in 1963 by Connie and Ralph Lopez. After Ralph served in WW2, Connie, Ralph and their daughter Carmen moved to Wichita to truly live the American dream. Wichita is such an entrepreneurial town. Ralph also opened his own barber shop and helped Connie start the café. They worked hard at owning small businesses!

Today, we sell Tex-Mex food and are known for our King Size Burrito, and we have 21 employees.

You can’t go wrong with the queso fundido enchiladas!

Describe your business’ most recent success.
Being voted Best Mexican Restaurant in the Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice Awards again and celebrating 55 years of service in 2018.

To what do you attribute your success?
Consistency of my mother Connie’s recipes, taking no shortcuts, and offering the best service and food. 

What differentiates your business from your competitors?
Longevity and consistency 

What is something people may not know about you or your business?
We have been around since April 1963. 

Where do you see your organization in five years?
More expansion and publicity for our business and hopefully another location.

What about your business are you most passionate?
Happy customers and co-workers 

Is your company involved in any community/civic activities?
We are strongly tied to the local community events in Northside. We participate in some NoMar events, and we donate what we can when any local organizations need a helping hand. 

Share any fun facts, throw backs, historical facts, or unique aspects of your business.

  1. Connie’s burritos were 25 cents back in the 1960’s.
  2. Our building is 112 years old.
  3. We found a beautiful hidden mural in our kitchen when we renovated last year.
  4. Connie used to make the tortillas from scratch for all the meals on the menu.
  5. Back in the 1970/80’s the Carney brothers, founders of Pizza Hut, tried to ask Grandma Connie if she’d ever consider franchising Connie’s food. Connie declined the opportunity to consider franchising Connie’s food. We often wonder if Connie’s could have been the next Taco Bell, but if you’ve ever eaten a Connie’s taco, you’d quickly taste the difference!

THE CHAMBER
Why did you join the Chamber and what do you find most valuable about Chamber membership?
We became members to invest in our future and to join forces with other local businesses. We want to share ideas with other members and hear their goals, give encouragement and take any advice on how to thrive! 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly would you recommend Chamber membership to a colleague?
Highly recommend! We all want our businesses to grow not only with customers, but because of relationships with community and other businesses. This will create an awesome city for all. 

What has Chamber membership brought to you and your business?
The ribbon-cutting event celebrating our 55th anniversary (scheduled for Friday, May 11) is such an honor. We can’t wait to celebrate!

The fajita plate is also a customer favorite.

SMALL BUSINESS
What is the best thing about being a small business?
I teach my family about everything, and my grandkids get to experience growing up in the restaurant industry.

What is the most challenging thing about running a small business?
Finding employees with the same passion. 

What is your best piece of advice for new small business owners/entrepreneurs?
Never lose hope and never give up!

What is something you wish you had known when your started your own business?
The hard work is never ending.

Favorite app?
Facebook and Instagram are powerful tools we use to advertise. And, of course, our alarm system Alert 360 to always check on our restaurant when we can’t be there.

WICHITA BUSINESS COMMUNITY
What is the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
The best thing about doing business in the Wichita area is the cooperation other businesses bring. We love that big or small companies have their events at our restaurant or we cater at their special events. We love that we are considered an icon and a staple of Wichita.

Is there anything else you would like to include?
Please join us for our 55th Anniversary Celebration on May 11 & 12! We will be having a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce at 1 p m  on Friday the 11th and other fun events all weekend!

Connie’s Mexico Cafe Owner Carmen Rosales stands next to family photos that hang in the restaurant. They show her parents, Ralph and Connie, and her five daughters.

Member Minute with The Arcade

139 N. Mead, Wichita, KS 67202 | 316-844-0010 | thearcadewichita.com
Facebook: @thearcadewichita | Twitter & Instagram: @arcadewichita

Owners Michael Jensen and Derek Sorrells have brought a new and unique entertainment option to downtown Wichita.

What do you do when you and your buddy own nearly 70 arcade game from the 80s and 90s? You open a place where people from all around can enjoy them, which is exactly what arcade game collectors Derek Sorrells and Michael Jensen did. For some, visiting The Arcade brings back nostalgia of their youth. For others, it is the first time experiencing these games. And for all, it is a lot of fun.

President Derek Sorrells shares what makes The Arcade unique (and an incredible deal – only $10 for all-day play!) and his enthusiasm for gaming in this Small Business Week Member Minute Profile.

Please tell us a little bit about your company.
The Arcade was opened on December 15, 2017 by Derek Sorrells and Michael Jensen, two arcade game collectors that turned their private collections into a place where everyone can enjoy and play 80s and 90s arcade games. We are located in downtown Wichita at 139 N. Mead.

Describe your business’ most recent success.
Parties! We have held MANY parties….more than we ever thought we would. We have hosted everything from corporate parties to church groups to team-building events. And, of course, birthday parties.

$10 buys all-day, unlimited play at The Arcade.

To what do you attribute your success?
A simple low price ($10 for all the games you can play!) and a large group of games that all work!

What differentiates your business from your competitors?
We don’t require quarters or tokens for our 75 video games. Customers can play all they want for one flat fee.

What is something people may not know about you or your business?
Michael and I owned 90% of the arcade games BEFORE the arcade opened. Both had huge personal collections in their basements and now we get to share them with our customers.

Where do you see your organization in five years?
It’s difficult to know where we’ll be in five years. This is an interesting business based somewhat on nostalgia. Hopefully we are still around and growing!

What about your business are you most passionate?
Seeing people smile and hearing them tell their kids, “This is what an arcade was like when I was a kid!” The stories and comments like that make our business worthwhile every day.

Is your company involved in any community/civic activities?
We generously donate to non-profits.

Share any fun facts, throw backs, historical facts, or unique aspects of your business.
Derek’s first arcade game was Galaga and Michael’s was Mortal Kombat 2.

THE CHAMBER
Why did you join the Chamber?
We joined the Chamber in order to work with other small business owners and to grow and learn together.

SMALL BUSINESS
What is the best thing about being a small business?
If something needs to change, we change it.

What is the most challenging thing about running a small business?
You’re the CEO and the janitor at the same time.

What is your best piece of advice for new small business owners/entrepreneurs?
Plan. Talk to people already doing what you want to do. Don’t let your passion overrule logic.

WICHITA BUSINESS COMMUNITY
What is the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
The people. We are friends with people that run arcades across the U.S. The problems they seem to have (like trying to sneak in, rude and crass behavior, etc.), we just don’t see much of it. People are friendly and respectful.

OTHER
Favorite app?
The Points Guy (love traveling!)

Favorite business book?
Anything from Tony Robbins

Chamber announces staffing updates in Membership, Accounting departments

Monica Poe is the Chamber’s new Membership Data Manager.

The Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce has recently expanded our staff. Monica Poe has been hired as the Membership Data Manager, and Alison Percy has been hired as the Member Engagement Coordinator. In addition, Peter Gaulding’s role as Accounting Clerk has moved from part-time to full-time.

Monica, a graduate of Wichita State University, previously worked at the Marketing Manager for In the Bag Cleaners. In her new role, she is responsible for maintaining accurate membership records and for managing the organization’s membership database to assist in strategic analyses. Her background in managing data and measuring results will help position the organization for continued success. Her first day at the Chamber was Jan. 2.

Alison Percy has joined the Chamber team as the Member Engagement Coordinator.

Alison, a graduate of Kansas State University, previously worked as the Events Coordinator for JOMA Bowling Company where she oversaw a wide range of events for groups of 15 to 1,000 attendees. In her new role, she provides administrative and project management support for the Membership & Engagement Department, which is responsible for planning and executing the majority of the organization’s 100+ annual events. Her first day at the Chamber was Jan. 2.

Peter joined the Chamber as a part-time Accounting Clerk in April of 2016. During his time with the Chamber, he has demonstrated a team-first work ethic. Due to growth within the organization, the position was moved to a full-time status on Jan. 2. Gaulding will graduate from Wichita State University this May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Peter Gaulding will graduate from Wichita State University this May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said, “The work and volunteer experiences of these individuals make them assets to the Chamber team. I am confident they will continue providing the exceptional service that our members and community partners have come to expect. We’re pleased to have them on board.”

Partnerships Fuel Wichita Flag Movement

Cassandra Bryan of Cassandra Bryan Design was one of the Wichitans featured in the series of community pride videos.

We like to say that the Wichita flag movement has been fueled by pride, passion and partnerships. Without all three, the message of the flag would not be as far reaching as it is. One partnership that contributed to the growing Wichita love in 2017 was when Chamber member World Studios ICT produced several videos that highlight the Wichita flag.

We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to their team for contributing their time and talents to the betterment of our community. Find links to and descriptions of each video below.

Your Wichita Flag | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
To celebrate the Wichita flag’s 80th birthday on June 14, 2017, this video was published to tell the story behind the city’s symbol. You can also catch this video playing on the City of Wichita’s City7 TV channel.

The Wichita Flag Movement | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
The Wichita Flag movement is important for so many reasons. This video features proud Wichitans sharing their thoughts on why.

The Best Thing About the Wichita Flag | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
When we asked people to name their favorite thing about the Wichita flag, we learned that everyone has a unique connection to the symbol.

#ILoveWichita Because… | Watch on Facebook or YouTube
How can you choose just one reason why you love Wichita?

We’d love to see your thoughts and feelings about the flag as well. Post your comments and tag @WichitaFlag and/or use #ILoveWichita.

We’re looking forward to seeing the Wichita pride continue to grow and to what partnerships emerge in 2018!

The team at World Studios ICT helped spread the Wichita flag message far and wide this year, with one of their videos receiving more than 30,000 views on Facebook alone.

 

Chamber announces two staff promotions

Chamber President Gary Plummer has announced two staff promotions that will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

  • Alejo Cabral has been promoted to Director of Young Professionals of Wichita.
  • Tram Ngo has been promoted to Manager of Government Relations.

Both Alejo and Tram have been integral members of the Chamber team since the start of their tenures.

In this new position, Alejo will lead Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW), an affiliate of the  Chamber with a mission to attract, engage and retain diverse young talent. “The organization’s volunteers quickly connected to him,” Gary said. “His ability to form relationships in diverse community groups have helped the organization increase its reach in the community.” He originally joined the Chamber in January 2017 as the YPW Coordinator. Prior to his role at the Chamber, Alejo worked at Credit Union of America.

Tram’s promotion comes as a result of her superb work since joining the Chamber in May 2017. “Our Government Relations department is responsible for advocating for business interests at the local, state and federal level, and Tram has earned the respect of our members, business leaders and public officials,” Gary said.

“I appreciate Tram’s commitment to excellence and am thrilled about her expanded role at the Chamber,” said Director of Government Relations Sean Robinson. “Tram is passionate about cultivating the strategic partnerships needed to advance our region’s growth.”

Please join us in congratulating these two deserving members of our team!

Show Your Support for the Official Wichita Flag License Plate

It was announced in October that the City of Wichita will be submitting a bill during the next legislative session to add a Wichita flag license plate option for Kansas motorists. The City has surpassed their initial goal of 500 signatures of support for the bill, but we want to keep going! Help us continue to demonstrate the demand for a Wichita flag license plate by completing this form.

Here’s how the program, titled Plates for Parks, will work: By purchasing a Wichita flag license plate for $50 at the time of registration or renewal, the flag will ride with you everywhere you go. The annual royalty fee of each license plate sold will go towards improving the City’s park system through the Wichita Parks Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. So it’s a win-win!

Add your name today at the link above!

Nominate your favorite small biz for Small Business of the Year

We are currently accepting nominations for our 2017 Small Business Awards through Friday, Dec. 15! The program, now in its 14th year, offers well-deserved recognition to small businesses for their achievements and contributions to our community and provides owners and employees the opportunity to showcase their company, share their story and be rewarded for their efforts.

The Monarch was the recipient of our 2017 Small Business of the Year Award in Tier One.

Nominations take less than a minute and can be made online at wichitachamber.org/awards. Please help us honor the small businesses that make our region unique and vibrant by nominating them for this award.

Business Criteria for Participation

  • Headquartered in Wichita metro area
  • Employ between 1-25 FTE for Tier One, or 26-100 FTE for Tier Two
  • Have been in business for at least three years
  • Demonstrate a commitment to good business practices
  • Maintain good employee relations
  • Contribute to the community
  • Have primary source of revenues from business operations, rather than grants, donors, or governmental funding (not-for-profits may be eligible to apply if they meet this criteria)
  • Be a member in good standing of the Wichita Regional Chamber at the time of application

Mahaney Roofing was the recipient of our 2017 Small Business of the Year Award in Tier Two.

Companies nominated will be invited to attend a complimentary nomination reception at the Chamber on Thursday, January 4 to learn more about the awards process and application materials.

Then in the spring, one business from each tier will be selected as the 2018 Small Business of the Year, which will be announced at an awards luncheon.

10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Time at Exposure

We hope you are planning to join us tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 28 at Exposure for Wichita’s largest business-to-business trade show and networking event. Here are some helpful tips to prepare to make the most of the day.

Event Details: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Century II Expo Hall. See #5 for parking info.

  1. First, be sure to pre-register at no cost (click here)! This will expedite your check-in process and leave more time for exploring the show floor.
  2. Don’t forget the Exposure essentials: plenty of business cards for all the connections you’ll be making and comfortable shoes for all the ground you’ll be covering.
  3. Focus on leads, not sales. Use Exposure as an opportunity to meet people, make an impression and share knowledge about your company. Don’t be pushy – instead be friendly and comfortable.
  4. Stop by the Chamber booth on the red carpet aisle to test your hoops skills and pick up a Gregg Marshall/Dick Vitale basketball in anticipation of Annual Meeting on Nov. 7.
  5. Concerned about parking? Don’t be! Wichita Transit will be providing complimentary shuttle service from Lawrence Dumont Stadium to Century II every 10 minutes.
  6. Post to Twitter using #ICTExpo about your experience at Exposure to see your tweet on the big screens around the show floor.
  7. Practice your right to vote for the new “People’s Choice” award for your favorite booth or table display.
  8. Check out the live art demonstration by Mark Arts, which will take place from 11-3 at the end of the red carpet aisle.
  9. Think about what you would do with all the great prizes up for grabs at the show, like:
  • Massage and facial from Healing Waters
  • $100 gift card from K. Lanes Boutique
  • New FitBit from P1 Group
  • Wichita flag wall hanging and mugs from Pass It On Purpose Coaching & Training Center
  • Golf and carts for four players from Rolling Hills Country Club
  • Click here to see a full list of door prizes.
  1. Have fun – LOTS of fun!

See you tomorrow!

Marshall, Vitale to headline Annual Meeting on Nov. 7

Gregg Marshall, head coach of the Wichita State University men’s basketball team, has been selected as the featured speaker for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Heading into his eleventh season as head coach of the Shockers, Marshall is the winningest head coach in WSU history. During the event, Marshall will speak about the school’s entry to the American Athletic Conference, as well as his personal perspective on why Wichita is the best place for him and his family to call home.

Joining Marshall on stage will be college basketball’s top analyst and ambassador Dick Vitale. Vitale joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season—just after the network’s September 1979 launch—following a successful college and pro coaching career. In 2008, Vitale received the sport’s ultimate honor when he was selected as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“The Chamber’s Annual Meeting is an opportunity to celebrate wonderful stories about our city,” said Scott Schwindaman, 2017 Chamber Chairman and President of Lubrication Engineers. “We’re continuing that tradition this year by hosting a dynamic discussion about Team Wichita: the impact of sports on our region and the positive outcomes that occur when sports put Wichita on a national stage.”

“The Wichita region has a lot to be proud of when it comes to the athletic arena,” said Gary Plummer, President and CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. “From events like the Prairie Fire Marathon and hosting the first round of 2018 NCAA tournament, to producing Olympians and investing in new athletic infrastructure, we have earned the right to call ourselves a ‘sports town’.”

The 2017 Annual Meeting is presented by INTRUST Bank. General admission tickets start at $35 and student tickets start at $20. Tickets can be purchased at wichitachamber.org. Formal invitations will be sent to Chamber members soon, and the general public is also invited to attend. Sponsorship opportunities are still available and can be secured by contacting Rachel Douglass at 316-268-1127.

Announcing the #WichitaFlagSummerTravelContest winners

The 2nd annual #WichitaFlagSummerTravelContest has concluded and the results prove that Wichitans love their hometown’s flag. The contest received nearly 173 unique entries, which was more than triple the number that was received in 2016. At the conclusion of the summer, the Wichita flag has been photographed in all 50 states, 36 different countries and on 5 continents. It’s safe to say that flag fever has spread worldwide.

Before the contest winners are revealed, here are a few other fun facts from this year’s contest:

  • The flag visited 7 different National Parks in 6 states
  • 124 individual accounts participated
  • 15 posts were from area businesses who joined in the fun
  • 28% of the entries included Wichita flag t-shirts
  • 20% of the entries used cloth flags (any size)
  • 9% used a flag picture on their phone
  • 6% used stickers
  • 5% used the insert published in the June 14 Wichita Eagle
  • The remainder (32%) used other flag swag (socks, koozies, hats, license plates, pins, magnets, etc.)

Contest winners are pictured below. They will each receive prizes from Great Image Designs (@greatimagedesigns on Instagram) and the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to all who entered and are helping spread Wichita love around the world!

50th State
When the @WichitaFlag account reported that Delaware was the only state it had not visited, Brandi Brenner (@brandi.brenner) and family changed their vacation plans so the flag could represent in its 50th state! They are photographed here at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

 

Best Group Pic
Can you say #SquadGoals? Heather Feist (@honeyfeist) and friends spent their friend-cation in matching flag tanks at Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

 

 

Best Story
When Gabby Garlow (@garlogab) visited The Temple Bar Pub in Dublin, Ireland, early this year, she placed a Wichita sticker on a wall inside the pub (pictured left). Fast forward to July when Hillary Martin (@Hillarymartin22) visited that same pub and found the sticker her fellow Wichitan had left behind (pictured right).

 

Farthest Away
The flag was carried to many corners of the earth this summer, but the farthest it traveled from Wichita was to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which is 9,358 miles away. The flag is pictured here at the Petronas Twin Towers with Juan Velazquez (@juanpv00).

 

Highest Point
Kacey and Paul Bowen of Wichita Real Estate (@wichitarealestate) summited Mount Massive in July and carried along the flag and some local brews to celebrate at the top. Standing at 14,421 feet in Colorado, Mount Massive is just that. Josh Herman (@josh_herman) also conquered the 14er with the flag in hand in August.

 

Least Amount of Oxygen
Alejo Cabral (@mr_alejo_cabral) is a Wichita transplant, but that doesn’t hinder his love for the flag. During his vacation to Tulum, Mexico, the flag accompanied him during a dive into some underwater caves. Any guesses on how many takes it took to get that shot?

 

Most Countries Visited
This year’s MVP award goes to Juan Velaquez (@juanpv00), who submitted four contest entries from three different countries. Thanks to Juan, the flag crossed Cambodia (pictured), Vietnam and Malaysia off its travel bucket list.

 

 

Most Patriotic
Airman Lauren Nguyen chose to pose with the Wichita flag following her formal graduation from  boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. She makes us all proud to be Americans and proud to be Wichitans. Photo submitted by Lauren’s mother, Kim (@kimmisuu).

 

Most Popular
It’s probably not difficult to believe that the contest photo that received the most likes was this adorable entry from Kelly Korroch (@2kellyk). The photo of her pup Teddy was taken in Breckenridge, Colorado, as he took in the views and fresh mountain air.

 

Most Unusual
There have been many photos of the flag posing with animals like cats and dogs and even hedgehogs. But this was definitely a new one: riding a camel in the Sahara Desert with Kris Hammer (@kris.on.the.road).

 

 

State with the Most Entries
It may come as no surprise that more entries were posted from Colorado than any other state — 16 entries to be exact. This one was taken by Kyle Hiebert (@qb3rt5) in the Garden of the Gods and was one of the favorites.

 

 

Youngest Flag Fan
It’s always fun to see young Wichitans learning about the flag and its symbolism. Victor White (@ginger727) shared this photo of his grandson at New Smyrna Beach, Florida, showing his love for the flag and for Wichita.

 

To see all of this year’s entries, search #WichitaFlagSummerTravelContest on Instagram.