Carrie Rengers

Tanya's Soup Kitchen to reopen

For almost seven years, Wichitans have relentlessly asked: When is Tanya going to reopen her restaurant?

The answer: this spring.

Tanya Tandoc is bringing back her uber-popular Tanya's Soup Kitchen .

She's opening in a new spot with the same name.

"Don't fix what ain't broke," is her philosophy.

Tandoc is taking almost 2,100 square feet at 1725 E. Douglas across from the Donut Whole.

That's Phil Ruffin's newly renovated Sunburst Plaza at 1725 .

"The menu will be much like people remember it," Tandoc says.

That includes favorite soups, such as her signature tomato bisque, which will be on the menu daily.

"Still, ridiculously, the very most popular soup I have ever served — ever!"

Sandwiches, such as the Milano and the Crocoville , will be back, too.

Tanya's Soup Kitchen will be open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"It's all flexible," Tandoc says. "If people are banging down the door at 5 o'clock, well, we'll open."

Tandoc was forced to leave her space in the former Union Station baggage area when her landlord, Cox Communications Kansas , wanted it back in 2004.

She'll have the same amount of seating — about 40 or 50 seats — as she previously did. She'll also eventually have a patio.

Instead of having table service, though, customers will order at a counter and runners will bring out their food.

"We're going to try and streamline the experience a little bit," Tandoc says. "We'll be able to turn tables a little bit faster than before."

The "we" in the venture includes her brother, Warren , and his wife, Ann .

Their return to the Wichita area is part of what's inspiring the restaurant now.

"It was like, oh, wait, the best line cook I ever met in my life and an incredible chef," Tanya Tandoc says of her brother. "This is awesome."

Ann Tandoc will handle the administrative side of the business.

"I suck at it, actually," Tanya Tandoc says of that side of the business.

This time around, she has had help with her business plan from consultant Jill Miller .

"She did all the stuff I'm not good at," Tandoc says. "Having not had (a consultant) the first time, the difference is amazing."

Unlike walking into a finished restaurant space like before, Tandoc will get to build her own.

The space is about the same size, but the layout will be different. For instance, there will be a separate line for to-go orders, where in the past there was a bottleneck at the door.

Farha Construction is the contractor. Spangenberg Phillips Tice is the architect.

Southwest National Bank is Tandoc's bank.

When she went back to the bank this time, Tandoc says everyone in the loan department excitedly asked, "What are you doing here?"

They were some of her first customers the last time around.

"They have always treated me like a friend, and they believe in me," Tandoc says.

While she's had a busy last seven years — getting a fine-arts degree, consulting, catering — it was a hard adjustment for Tandoc to not have a restaurant.

"I felt like I was lost, you know?"

She says her husband, Split Lip Rayfield musician Wayne Gottstine , let her mope for a long time.

"Then he told me to get up off the couch and do something — and maybe brush your hair."

Tandoc is as thrilled to be reopening as most of Wichita is for her to reopen.

"Everything really just fell into place."

Look for Tanya's Soup Kitchen to be back in business by late March or early April.

Musical inspiration

With the almost 2,100-square-foot Tanya's Soup Kitchen lease, the newly renovated Sunburst Plaza at 1725 still has 6,500 square feet left to lease.

Chris Ruffin, director of real estate for his father's Ruffin Properties , is looking to make the building "more of a destination-type shopping area."

Ruffin, a musician, took the Sunburst name and the building's new color from his guitar.

He says Sunburst is the color of a wood stain technique used on Fender and Gibson guitars, and that's where he got the inspiration.

Ruffin says he's talking to some other possible tenants —"some exciting stuff" — but doesn't have anything to announce just yet.