Dining With Denise Neil

‘It doesn’t feel right’: Wichita library patrons skeptical they can roam with coffee

The new Reverie cafe is now open inside Wichita’s Advanced Learning Library, and it’s OK to take your coffee while you browse.
The new Reverie cafe is now open inside Wichita’s Advanced Learning Library, and it’s OK to take your coffee while you browse. Courtesy

Wichita’s fancy new Advanced Learning Library opened last month, but when it threw open the doors, one of its most modern amenities wasn’t quite ready.

Now, however, the library’s little cafe — operated by Wichita’s ever-expanding Reverie Coffee Roasters — is up and running and serving patrons. It sits in a bright and airy cove just off the library’s west-facing entrance and serves beverages and pastries that are designed to please both grownups and kids.

The only issue, says owner Andrew Gough: Years of conditioning to the rules of proper library behavior have cafe visitors too afraid to leave the area with their drinks.

It’s allowed (and even encouraged) as long as the drinks have lids, and Reverie is providing lids with all of its drinks. But the staff has watched during the first few weeks as people have ordered, taken a chair at one of the café’s tables and remained seated until their drinks are gone.

“We wonder if they are aware, so we try to let people know,” Gough said. “Most of the time, they’re surprised. Even though they’ve marketed it and are saying it, people are still questioning it because it doesn’t feel right.”

But times are changing, and coffee shops are becoming a common offering in modern libraries across the country, Gough said. (The library does still prefer if people keep food items in the café, though)

The little library Reverie is fully operational, Gough said, and in addition to coffee drinks, it’s also serving pastries and cheesecake. It also has grab-and-go lunch items like sandwiches, chicken salad, hummus and carrots, marinated olives and cheese. The staff plans to add more lunch options as time goes by.

Because the library is popular with kids, the library Reverie also serves hot chocolate and keeps milk and juice boxes in stock. It also offers Italian sodas and lemonade.

Gough is still putting some finishing touches on the cafe, and he’s awaiting the arrival of a piece of signature artwork that will complete the space. But he’s planning a grand opening celebration for the library cafe on July 27, which will tie in with Reverie’s fifth birthday celebration.

For now, the library cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.

So far, the library’s 70 or so employees are among the cafe’s best customers, but Gough said he’ll be watching what all of the library customers want and will adjust the menu and hours accordingly.