Koch Industries remodels its Koch Cafe

WICHITA — One of the biggest food venues in town is getting a makeover, but it’s not a restaurant.

It’s the 30,000-square-foot Koch Cafe, which as the name implies is the cafeteria at Koch Industries near 37th Street North and Oliver.

“It is a busy place,” says spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia.

The cafeteria serves 2,600 employees including Charles Koch, who is a regular diner there.

Eurest Dining Services runs the cafeteria which has been closed since May 11. It won’t reopen until late September.

“So you can imagine with it being closed, people are trying to figure out how to eat,” says Craig Highfill, Koch’s vice president of facilities solutions.

Koch is trying to help.

“If we had all of our employees going out at one time, it would hit the market pretty hard,” Highfill says.

The Flying Stove food truck is now stationed at Koch on Thursdays.

Eurest also is using a remote kitchen to make some items to sell in a temporary cafe.

Koch Cafe is about 22 years old. There are some maintenance issues, such as problems under the floor due to shifting clay soil.

That’s led to what Highfill calls “an opportunity just to update and give some general improvements to the cafe.”

That includes creating more “grab-and-go stations,” expanding the popular salad bar and adding a pizza oven.

Also, the flow of the cafeteria has been redesigned to reduce wait times, a door to an outside courtyard is being moved to a more prominent spot and there will be new tables and chairs.

Koch donated its previous 127 tables and 650 chairs to His Helping Hands, which has already started giving them to people in need. That includes victims of the April tornado in the Oaklawn area.

Howard & Helmer Architecture is the architect, Professional Engineering Consultants is the engineer on the project, and Hutton Construction is the general contractor.