Editor's note: This is one in a series of profiles of businesses nominated for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Small Business Award.
Andrew Gough takes a moment looking for just the right way to compare his current coffee roaster to the one it replaced.
"I don’t want to say it’s like a Ferrari because that makes it sound fast,” Gough, owner of Reverie Roasters, says. “It’s like going from a Ford Fiesta with roll-up windows to an Acura with all the bells and whistles.”
The same could be said of Reverie and its sister businesses, Founders Bakery and Principal Coffee Equipment Solutions. A year ago, Gough employed 18 people in a 3,000-square-foot coffee shop and roastery. Today, he’s got 54 people working for him and a total footprint of more than 10,000 square feet.
His enterprise is one of four finalists for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Small Business Award for Tier II businesses — those that employ 26 to 100 people.
But the growth hasn’t been as fast as it looks from the outside.
Gough spent nearly two-and-a-half years working on Reverie’s move from 2611 E. Douglas to a former medical supply business at 2202 E. Douglas Ave., across from East High School. In the process, he added beer and wine, a bakery capable of producing everything from baguettes to croissants and a kitchen that dishes up from-scratch breakfast and lunch dishes.
The new roasting operation has its own building behind the restaurant. Reverie has also started a small coffee shop in the Garvey Center, called Café at the Kiva, and will do the same in the city’s new main public library scheduled to open next month.
Gough said managing that kind of growth is not easy. His wife, Katie, good-naturedly agrees. She’s now Reverie’s chief bookkeeper, moving from a job with Wichita public schools. “The plan was (to work) about 30 hours a week,” she says, adding that the reality is “like double” that amount.
“And we get to talk about business all the time at home, which I love,” Andrew Gough says.
He’s not necessarily joking. As anybody who’s watched over the past five years knows, the former retirement plan educator is passionate about both coffee and turning Reverie into a part of the city’s culture. Most of the 85 seats inside and 20 on the patio were filled one day this week.
“Why do we do what we do?” Gough says. “Because we see extreme importance in creating good experiences for people here in Wichita.”
A few years ago, Gough envisioned a majority of Reverie’s revenue coming from sales of freshly roasted coffee beans to restaurants, retailers, churches and other customers. Today, however, almost three-fourths comes from its own coffee and food sales, although the wholesale side of the business remains important. Gough said the two support each other, as does Principal Coffee Equipment Solutions, which sells, leases and maintains coffee-making equipment for many of the customers who buy Reverie’s beans and also functions as an in-house tech crew. “It’s a very small piece but necessary,” he said.
Gough said listening to customers at Reverie’s former location shaped the current one.
“They need parking, needed a bathroom, wanted food,” he said. Groups often wanted to reserve space for meetings there, so the new location has a private room in an adjacent building. Culinary Institute of America grad Stephanie Hand created the menu, made up of dishes like ricotta pancakes, grits and greens and roasted panzanella salad, while Le Cordon Bleu alum Victoria Rios oversees the bread-making.
Interestingly, there’s been a little blowback from some customers sorry Reverie is no longer primarily a coffee shop, although it may have four baristas cranking out cappuccino at peak times.
“That’s a struggle for us,” Gough said. “But we’ve brought so much more to the table, literally.”
REVERIE ROASTERS AND FOUNDERS BAKERY
Address: 2202 E. Douglas Ave.
Owner: Andrew Gough