Carrie Rengers

Dean & Deluca has soft opening at Shops at Tallgrass (+video)

Wichita’s new Dean & Deluca store started a soft opening at the Shops at Tallgrass on Friday afternoon.

In July, Have You Heard? reported that after all the years that Wichita native Leslie Rudd owned Dean & Deluca –and Wichitans kept hoping that he’d bring one of the upscale grocery stores here – new owner Pace Development Corp. of Thailand is bringing one to the center just east of the northeast corner of 21st and Rock Road.

The store is unique for Dean & Deluca in that it’s going to serve as a place for the chain to test point-of-sale systems along with displays and other things it could use at its flagship stores and smaller cafes.

The store is going to have a mix of catalog items – with occasional warehouse sales – and coffee, fresh pastries and a small sampling of meat and cheese.

Hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday, when the store is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’re in the coffee business,” says Josh Hodapp, vice president of retail operations, explaining the early hours.

He says the store’s neighbors are especially excited for that.

“They keep popping in and saying, ‘When are you going to be ready?”

There will be a grand opening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday with samples and giveaways.

Hodapp has been fielding questions about how long the store will be open since the chain’s only previous Wichita sales have been brief warehouse sales.

“It’s a real lease,” Hodapp says. “It’s not just like Halloween Express that comes in for 60 days.”

The store has tables and chairs for people to stay and hang out. For the first time for any Dean & Deluca store, Hodapp says, there are also leather chairs and a couch.

“We wouldn’t do that for 60 days.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers