Business

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The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a ribbon-cutting Thursday evening at a new pizza restaurant, Topp’d Pizza, at 39Rainbow development at 3934 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by Mary Moore, KCK Chamber of Commerce)
The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a ribbon-cutting Thursday evening at a new pizza restaurant, Topp’d Pizza, at 39Rainbow development at 3934 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by Mary Moore, KCK Chamber of Commerce)

A new pizza restaurant, Topp’d Pizza, has opened at 39Rainbow development at 3934 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.

The new restaurant is across the street from the University of Kansas Medical Center in the Rosedale area.

The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a ribbon-cutting at the restaurant’s grand opening on Jan. 22, said Mary Moore, the chamber’s marketing director.

The new dine-in restaurant features individual pizzas delivered to the table in five minutes or less, and is a “nice location to sit and eat,” she said. The individual-size pizzas are priced at $5.99 and $6.99.

The 39Rainbow project was developed by Lane4.

Chad Talbott is the owner of the pizza business, and he has previously been in the restaurant field. He is using all fresh ingredients on the pizzas, Moore said.

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Guest speaker at the Fairfax Industrial Association meeting at 11:15 a.m. Jan. 8 will be Superintendent Cynthia Lane of the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools.

The meeting will be at the Board of Public Utilities offices, 540 Minnesota Ave., Kansas City, Kan.

The cost of the luncheon will be $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers.

Reservations are due by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, to execdir@fiakck.org.

Toys for needy children were distributed last week at a Toys for Tots event. The event was held at an auto dealership in Bonner Springs. (Submitted photo)
Toys for needy children were distributed last week at a Toys for Tots event. The event was held at an auto dealership in Bonner Springs. (Submitted photo)

by Mary Rupert
A local businessman has stepped forward to rescue charitable events for the local Civitan organization.

The efforts culminated with a Toys for Tots distribution last week in Bonner Springs, where thousands of toys were given away.

Eric Gentry, owner of Victory Dodge-Jeep-Ram at 6640 State Ave. and Victory Ford at 715 S. 130th St. in Bonner Springs, stepped forward when he saw news reports that Civitan’s efforts to distribute free food were being shut down because of traffic.

Gentry is the anonymous person who stepped forward to help with donations of food at that time. Some Civitan programs, under the direction of Ron and Janice Witt, last summer had been sponsoring an effort to distribute Harvesters food to the needy, and they also had a food pantry and a thrift store for the needy.

“I saw her story on the news and felt compelled to pick up the phone one night,” Gentry said. “We met, and I feel what she’s doing is helping people in Wyandotte County. We’re thrilled to help people in Wyandotte County, and we think it’s a good thing.”

Gentry’s auto dealership in Bonner Springs then also became the host of Civitan’s annual Toys for Tots distribution. After toys are collected by U.S. Marines and other volunteers for this project, they are then distributed to needy children locally with help from Civitan volunteers.

Gentry shut down the showroom floor at the Bonner Springs dealership one day last week for the Toys for Tots program.

“We had a line of people on our showroom floor at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning,” Gentry said. “We had close to 1,000 people come through. I thought that was pretty amazing.”

He also bought enough food to help more than 1,000 needy people during the holidays, he said.

Even though the showroom was shut down on Wednesday morning, the dealership still sold two cars that day, he added.

The free food distribution from Harvesters is no longer associated with the Civitan groups and was moved to the parking lot of the KCKCC-TEC at 64th and State Avenue, where there was a lot of parking available. Sponsors of the food giveaway then became KCKCC, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and Harvesters.

Because of Gentry’s and Victory auto staff’s efforts, the Reola Grant Civitan thrift store and food pantry will continue in the future at a new location.

Gentry said he was impressed by the Witts’ volunteer efforts. They were there until 11 p.m. a week ago Tuesday getting ready for the event, then back again the next morning working on it, he said.

“They just give and give and give of themselves,” he said.

Victory Ford and Victory Chrysler-Dodge have been keeping busy helping local charities every month. In the past, they helped the Bonner-Edwardsville educational foundation, and the Fire Department burn victims fund, Gentry said.

The Toys for Tots distribution last week was by far the biggest charitable event the dealerships’ 80 employees have worked on, he said.

“This has been by far the biggest thing that our employees got behind and pitched in to help,” he said. “It was really, really fantastic.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “I’ve been in the business for 20 years and I’ve never done anything that was so inspiring,” he said.

Gentry bought the former Bob Hoss dealership this past April, and Bonner Springs Ford in June.

He has big plans for growth for the dealerships.

“Our business is up tremendously in Wyandotte County,” he said. “We’re up about 350 percent at the Dodge store, up 150 percent at the Ford store. So we’re growing.” He added they are two of the fastest-growing dealerships in the Midwest.

The key to the growth, he added, is good people on the staff.

“That’s the whole key to it. Treat the customer the right way, that really makes a difference,” Gentry said.

Gentry has a lot of experience in the automotive sales field, spending the last 15 years in the Kansas City market, including 13 years at Randy Reed Buick GMC.

Long-term plans are to build a new Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep facility at The Legends auto plaza at I-435 and Parallel Parkway, he said.

When the move happens, the Civitan food pantry and thrift store programs will benefit, he added.

“When we move out of the current location, we’re going to turn part of that building into a food pantry,” Gentry said.

Also at the old Dodge building on State Avenue will be a large body shop, used car lot, and the Civitan thrift store.

The move from State Avenue to the new Legends auto plaza is all about being in locations where there is a lot of traffic from people who can buy cars and want to buy cars, Gentry said. The new location will have traffic not just from Wyandotte County, but also from the entire area.

“We’re hoping to sell more cars out there. We’ll sell more cars there and then do more to help the people of Wyandotte County,” he said.

Gentry said he was a very strong faith-based Christian, who believes in doing what he can to help other people.

“They don’t have to believe the same way I believe, I still want to help them,” he said. He is not picking sides in any disagreements, but just doing what he can to help, he added.

Next on the list of charitable efforts, he said he plans to sit down with the Witts in January and figure out what the biggest need is that they can address.

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