Downtown Wichita will soon have its own culinary school! Earlier this year, WSU Tech broke ground on the National Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Education (NICHE) in the historic Henry’s building, located in downtown Wichita at 124 S. Broadway. The 63,000 square foot space is currently being renovated to feature over 10 state-of-the-art commercial kitchens, classrooms, demonstration kitchens, an open-to-the-public food hall, student-ran café, and rooftop event center.
I had the opportunity to stop by and get a sneak peek at the building renovations.
It’s hard to imagine how big 63,000 square feet is until you step inside. Inside NICHE, there are three large floors along with a basement that will house kitchens, conference room space, officers and a future commercial kitchen that people can rent out, then a rooftop area which I’ll get into later.
Something I didn’t know about NICHE was the partnership with Envision, who is a nonprofit that promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. As part of the partnership with WSU Tech, there will be a first-of-its-kind innovation kitchen and culinary education opportunity designed to help meet the career goals of people who are blind or visually impaired. A bistro run completely by those students is set to open in March 2023.
Hungry diners won’t have to wait that long though as Jinya Ramen Bar is expected to open this fall on the first floor of NICHE,
Probably the most exciting addition to WSU Tech’s new culinary school will be the rooftop event space. Located at the very top of the NICHE will be a space available for rent and catered by the students in the WSU Tech culinary program, with even support from the college’s hospitality and events management program.
It overlooks downtown Wichita and could be one of the best views in the city.
The WSU Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality and Events Management programs tentatively planned to move to the new building later this fall when the building renovations are complete. WSU Tech is currently enrolling for both programs. More information can be found at www.wsutech.edu/culinary or www.wsutech.edu/hospitality.
Don’t fret if you don’t want to attend a full program. NICHE plans to offer cooking classes and events for people who want to do it recreationally or as a one-off.
Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even be teaching a class on using social media in the restaurant industry.
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