Today, the properties around and along South Ridge Road between Maple and Kellogg are swamped with businesses, including so many restaurants it could be known as restaurant row.
However, in 1985, the area was deserted, and Tim and Maureen Wilbeck took a gamble on a new Wilbeck Chiropractic office at 455 S. Ridge Road.“There was nothing,” Maureen Wilbeck says. “I mean, no Lowe’s, no Palace Theatre.”
A few years before that when a new overpass was built to the airport, Wilbeck said that “it left this strange triangular piece of land.”
It was on the market at what she calls a good price. Her husband, whom she calls a real forward thinker, said, “Let’s snatch it up.”
Since then, the area has grown up so much, Maureen Wilbeck says people have been clamoring for their property for the past decade.
The time was finally right to sell, and that’s what the Wilbecks have done.
Now, another new franchise is coming to the area, but it’s not a restaurant. It’s a Tommy’s Express Car Wash franchise.
“They’re very nice car washes,” says Banks Floodman, who represented Tommy’s franchisee Milton Wolf.
“I know a car wash seems kind of mundane,” Wolf says, but he says, “Cars are cool, and if cars are cool, then car washes are cool.”
He says Tommy’s is “a high-tech, high-end wash.”
Wolf, a radiologist with practices around the Kansas City and Overland Park areas, says he was genuinely impressed the first time he drove through a Tommy’s, which he says takes less than two minutes thanks to advanced technology.
“I pop through one on my way home from work, and it doesn’t slow me down from getting home.”
“I’m sure they’ll do a really great job,” he says. “But I like our location.”
He calls it “the single-best location in all of Wichita.”
“The traffic is phenomenal. The neighbors are phenomenal.”
Also, Wolf says, “There’s such a need.”
He says the first sunny day after a snowstorm in Kansas City recently, there were lines of people wanting car washes, and he said the curb-to-curb waiting and washing time was “still under eight minutes.”
“Which is just a testament to how fast everything moves.”
Tommy’s has four membership levels of service or a single-use option. Wolf says prices haven’t been set yet, but they’ll likely start at about $20.
Floodman, whom some may know better for playing football at Collegiate and KU, now is with Sunflower Development Group as director of business development.
Though Sunflower has been more known for its redevelopment projects — for instance, it’s a partner with Landmark and TGC Development Group in the Spaghetti Works District — it’s now starting to do some ground-up development as well.
Floodman says Tommy’s will be almost 5,000 square feet and have a 110-foot tunnel and likely 11 vacuums.
The Wilbeck Chiropractic building will be razed. Tim Wilbeck has retired. Maureen Wilbeck’s brother-in-law, Earl Malone, also practiced there but has started Boneworkz at 211 S. Tyler.
The Wilbeck’s son, Taylor, still has Wilbeck Wellness & Chiropractic on the east side, and the Wilbecks encouraged their patients to now see him.
Taylor Wilbeck says he’s close to capacity at his clinic and wants to find space for a new west-side practice.
There also will be more Tommy’s car washes.
Depending on the need and the success of the first Tommy’s, Wolf says he thinks he’ll do three or four more.
So why does a radiologist want to go into the car wash business?
“It’s a fun challenge,” he says. “That’s kind of the Americana dream right there.”