Carrie Rengers

Dockum Apothecary will serve drinks, not prescriptions

Psst, over here.

You’re not going to see signs that say Dockum Apothecary, but the speakeasy is opening in the basement of the Ambassador Hotel Wichita, Autograph Collection, at Douglas and Broadway on Friday.

“Unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s kind of hidden,” says hotel general manager Tad Stricker.

Stricker first told Have You Heard? about the speakeasy in May.

Now, there’s a small pharmacy sign at the end of the foyer outside of Siena Tuscan Steakhouse.

“It’s very nondescript,” Stricker says.

The Dockum name is in homage to the Dockum Drug Store that used to be in the building decades ago and was known for its sit-ins.

“We wanted to be very respectful of the Dockum name and history,” Stricker says.

The speakeasy, which is a throwback to the private clubs that served alcohol during Prohibition, is the idea of Ambassador owner Paul Coury.

He and Stricker have been to a number of speakeasy clubs in other cities.

“We just loved the ambiance,” Stricker says.

He says they’d always wanted to do something different with the hotel’s basement storage area, and they decided on the speakeasy.

“This just seemed like a natural spot for it.”

The speakeasy almost feels like stepping back in time as you descend the stairs to the dimly lit room, which is decorated with some vintage mirrors, a few pharmacy-type items and some 900-year-old doors from a Chinese temple.

The space itself is vintage, too.

“It was so exciting as we started some of the construction down here,” Stricker says of the 1926 building.

They found the hotel’s original brick under plaster walls and terrazzo floors under PVC tile.

“They’ve been covered up for about 40 or 50 years,” Stricker says. “We were so thrilled to be able to bring those back and shine some daylight on them again.”

The business will be open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Like the secretive speakeasy clubs of old, Stricker says he expects Dockum Apothecary to become popular through word of mouth.

“That is definitely part of the experience as well.”

So how will out-of-town hotel guests know about it?

Stricker says front desk clerks will “possibly write a prescription for what ails them.”

There may be special passwords some nights, too.

Craft cocktails will be a particular focus, Stricker says.

In addition to bar stools and tables, there are couches and chairs for lounging, too.

Stricker says it’s all about creating an atmosphere of relaxation and fun.

“We want to be just the local place.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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