Dining With Denise Neil

Clifton Square about to add a business that Riverside already loves

Angelo Rodriguez and Marty Spence are opening a new Songbird Juice Co. in College Hill’s Clifton Square.
Angelo Rodriguez and Marty Spence are opening a new Songbird Juice Co. in College Hill’s Clifton Square. The Wichita Eagle

The couple that made the corner of 11th and Bitting in Riverside a hip place to sip are hoping to do the same thing for College Hill’s Douglas and Clifton Avenue.

Marty Spence, who owns Songbird Juice Co. at 1142 N. Bitting, and her husband, Angelo Rodriguez, owner of R Coffee House next door at 1144 N. Bitting, are opening a new business in the tiny, 350-square-foot spot in Clifton Square that previously held Fresh Roast Coffee Co.

The business will also be called Songbird Juice Co. and will offer many of Spence’s signature items, including cold-press juices and fresh kombucha. It will also offer some of Rodriguez’s signature coffee drinks – high-end pour-overs and cold brews made using beans sourced from roasters like PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. from Topeka.

“We won’t have drip coffee,” Rodriguez said. “It’s going to be single-origin, exotic, crazy fruity stuff that I think the market is ready for.”

The new business also will become the home base for the couple’s food truck, dubbed “The Bird Cage,” which they rolled out in September. Though they’ll still take the food truck to meet ups and community events, it now will reside in a parking space outside the Clifton Square business. The couple will serve food out of the truck when the new Songbird is open, specializing in a plant-based menu that includes items like wraps and salads, some topped with a kombucha vinaigrette.

The duo plan to begin serving from the food truck in about two weeks. Renovations on the building could be done by February, they said. Though the space isn’t big enough for dine-in customers, it will have a counter, a kombucha dispenser and seating where people can wait for their orders.

“We have a lot of intentions for College Hill,” Spence said. “We live nearby and we cherish the community. A lot of our customers are from College Hill.”

The shop will likely be welcomed by coffee fans, who were saddened in 2015 when Timothy Wiesner’s Fresh Roast Coffee Co. lost the space that Songbird is taking over. At the time, flower shop Bloomhaus was expanding and needed the space. That shop has since left Clifton Square.

Wiesner just resumed his business in September after acquiring some space in The Ffarquhar, an orange warehouse at 611 S. St. Francis. He now sells bags of his roasted coffee beans from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays mornings.

Songbird Juice Co. worked with Stephanie Wise at John T. Arnold Associates on the Clifton Square space.

Watch for updates on the business.