Dining With Denise Neil

Reverie in Wichita is retooling its food service, refocusing on its coffee roots

Popular local coffee house about to get bigger

(FILE VIDEO) Andrew Gough moved his Reverie Coffee Roasters across Douglas to a much larger space, with a food menu and alcoholic drinks. (Feb. 9, 2018)
Up Next
(FILE VIDEO) Andrew Gough moved his Reverie Coffee Roasters across Douglas to a much larger space, with a food menu and alcoholic drinks. (Feb. 9, 2018)

When he moved his Reverie Coffee Roasters from its original spot to 2202 E. Douglas earlier this year, Andrew Gough had a big vision for his big new space.

Instead of selling just the specialty coffee drinks that his popular shop at had been known for since opening in 2016, Gough wanted to add full-service restaurant, offering hot breakfast and lunch items created by his longtime chef, Stephanie Hand. He wanted to add on a big-city style bakery that would sell crusty bread along with sweet pastries and desserts. He wanted his customers to lounge at their tables while waiters and waitresses fetched their drinks and meals.

Seven months later, Gough said, he’s realizing those big plans might have been too big — and not quite right for Wichita. After consulting with his staff and loyal customers — and after lots of thought — Gough has decided to retool his new Reverie Coffee Roasters/Founder’s Bakery and refocus on the thing that made his shop work in the first place — specialty coffee.

He’s not eliminating food at the restaurant, but he’s starting over with the menu, focusing it more on seasonal “quick casual, made-from-scratch” items like soup, salads and sandwiches — “more like the food you would expect to find in a coffee shop,” Gough said. Table-side service will end, and customers will return to ordering their food and coffee at the counter.

The changes will take effect on Tuesday.

“What we started out doing was really all about coffee and the business that surrounds the service of specialty coffee,” Gough said. “When we moved to expand, it became evident that we just didn’t maintain our focus on the things that got us into the business to begin with.”

Gough is putting the finishing touches on the new menu but said it will be a work in progress. He says it will likely change and expand as his staff learns what works and what doesn’t.

In the bakery, his staff will stop making rustic, crusty loaves of bread — people just weren’t buying them, he said. But they’ll add some new savory pastries, like ham-and-cheese croissants.

The cafe’s hours won’t change, and it will continue to serve adult beverages as it has been, Gough said.

“The truth of the matter is, and we’ve recognized that our customer base that we built has in some ways found that we were a different place than we used to be,” Gough said. “They see us not as the specialty coffee business that we always were, and it’s really important for us to get back to being that.”

Meanwhile, head chef Hand is moving on.

She’s starting a new job with the Wichita Country Club on Sept. 18. Hand, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has been with Reverie for several years and developed its new menu.

She’s never worked in a country club before, she said, and she’s looking forward to getting creative with wine dinner menus. She also looks forward, she said, to trying her hand at cooking for large events, something she hasn’t had a chance to experience yet.

In the meantime, she said, she’s helping Reverie with the transition.

“It’s hard to go, but I think it’s the right decision,” she said. “I think I’m leaving Reverie in the good hands of people that can produce quality products in the new program.”

Denise Neil sits down with aspiring food critic Weston Gough, age 7, at Reverie Coffee Roasters.