Dining With Denise Neil

A classy new bar is about to open in one of Wichita's most-loved historic buildings

Rodney Horton and Brock Mellinger are about to open Cana Wine  & Cocktails in the Petroleum Building in downtown Wichita.
Rodney Horton and Brock Mellinger are about to open Cana Wine & Cocktails in the Petroleum Building in downtown Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

One of Wichita's most-loved old buildings is about to get a new tenant.

Brock Mellinger and friend Rodney Horton will soon open a new wine and cocktail bar in an 800-square-foot space on the ground floor of the Petroleum Building, an Art Deco-style building at 221 S. Broadway.

It'll be called Cana Wine & Cocktails, a reference to the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus was said to have turned water into wine. The owners hope to have it open by Aug. 1.

"We want to make wine fun," Mellinger said. "This will be a place people can go hang out in a small, intimate space. It'll take the snobbiness out of wine and cocktails."

Mellinger is a a certified sommelier with the Court of Master of Sommeliers who is working on his Level III certification. He worked with Standard Beverage for three years as a wine and liquor distributor. Horton is a local IT executive and one of the co-founders of the Wichita Whiskey Club. Horton's girlfriend and Mellinger's wife are longtime best friends, and the two realized they had a lot in common.

When they found the space in the Petroleum Building, which had a giant chandelier, original terrazzo floors and lots of exposed brick, they started planning. They liked that it was close to several new apartment buildings, including the new Broadway Autopark, and that it was within walking distance of Century II and Intrust Bank Arena.

"We saw this space, and the wheels started spinning," Horton said. "We thought, 'This could work.' It was a small space we could wrap our heads around."

The duo plans to furnish the space with comfortable lounge furniture and a few tables and chairs, and they'll add a small patio out front. There's a spot on the south-facing wall that will be turned into a window, and food trucks will park outside in the adjacent parking garage to feed guests. They'll also have a menu of "small bites" — things like meats and cheeses.

They're also building a bar that will be fully stocked with wine, signature cocktails that change seasonally and, of course, whiskey.

One of their main focuses will be education.

"People can try something new, but if they want to drink their favorite California Chardonnay or Moscato, it'll be here, too," Mellinger said.

Cana will be open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. I'll let you know when they're ready to open.

Brittany Wahlers shows you inside an apartment at the Broadway Autopark. The converted parking garage in downtown Wichita has 44 units. Matt

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