Nonprofit looking to create cultural district in Wichita's Nomar neighborhood
If you step into Connie's Mexico Cafe during any given lunch rush, the restaurant and its kitchen are bustling. This week the family-owned restaurant is celebrating its 60th year in business.
Manager and owner Ci Ci Garcia says the restaurant has become “a staple here in the community" in it's six decades. "It's something that we embrace, and we look forward to for many, many years and continue the legacy.”
In a lot of ways, Connie’s represents the history of the neighborhood around it, Nomar. Now Empower, a non-profit that works to strengthen Wichita’s Latino/Hispanic community, is planning for the neighborhood’s future.
Executive Director Ariel Rodriguez says the original idea stemmed from the thought of “what investments could be made through private investment or city investment to really see this continue to thrive, to be a Hispanic district.”
Empower released its vision for the area earlier this year called "Vamos Nomar" which would make major improvements to Nomar Square, 21st Street, and Woodland Park. The idea is to create a cohesive cultural district that will grow local businesses.
"If we can get more people in this neighborhood to support shops then we're really moving this mini economy of Wichita forward," Rodriguez told KAKE.
He knows It's a big idea that will take a few years to get going "but we wanted to at least kind of plant the seed.”
So far community pillars like Connie’s are ready for the vision. Garcia says “I think that's the best part of that is sharing that, our history, our culture with not just with our community, but with the city and the state.”
Right now Empower is fundraising for the plan. They are looking at both private donations and possible grants from the city. The goal is to have the short-term re-designs built over the next five years.