Dining With Denise Neil

Botanica now has its own coffee shop

Hannah Hueston is the barista who runs the new Garden Cafe inside Botanica.
Hannah Hueston is the barista who runs the new Garden Cafe inside Botanica. The Wichita Eagle

Visitors to the gardens at Wichita’s Botanica now can refresh themselves with more than a gift-store candy bar or bottle of soda.

The attraction at 701 Amidon recently added a small cafe and coffee shop that, if its popular, could expand in the future.

It’s called Garden Cafe, and it’s set up in a space just off the lobby where the offices used to be. The cafe offers breakfast items like bagels and packaged danishes and muffins plus and snack options, including chocolate chip cookies, yogurt, granola bars, biscotti, cheese sticks, juice and milk. and There’s also a coffee menu, with specialty drinks made using a new, bright-red espresso machine purchased from The Spice Merchant, which also is supplying the coffee beans.

Hannah Hueston was hired to run the coffee shop, and the young barista has a lot of energy and ideas. She’s invented several coffee drinks, included a cinnamon and sugar latte and a cocoa latte. The menu also espresso, an Americano, cappuccino, hot chocolate, tea and more.

About four tables are set up just outside of the coffee shop, and a row of tall chairs lining a bar are available inside.

“A lot of people have asked for some kind of food here,” said Marty Miller, Botanica’s executive director. “This is a step. It’s customer driven, and we’ll see where the customers drive it.”

Cafe visitors don’t have to pay regular Botanica admission, Miller said. They can just run inside and grab a coffee.

Something like a sandwich bar is possible in the future, depending on how the coffee shop goes over, he said.

Visitors must pass through the coffee shop to get to a fun new children’s room at Botanica. It has a library in it, a loft designed to look like a tree house, and several fun reading corners. There’s also a little playhouse with a crawl-through tunnel and a troll surprise hiding inside.

The Garden Cafe and the new children’s library are open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.