R Coffeehouse to replace the Riverside Perk

WICHITA — The Riverside Perk has a new owner, but the popular hang-out spot will no longer be known as the Perk.

Angelo Rodriguez and his family are renaming it R Coffeehouse. The R is for Riverside.

Rodriguez says he likes the sound of, “Hey, let’s go to R Coffeehouse,” as in “our coffeehouse.”

The Perk closed late last month after 17 years in business.

“We just want to do stuff a little bit different than it has been in the past here,” Rodriguez says.

That includes expanding the menu to include more sandwiches, salads and ready-to-go items. On the weekends, there will be special items such as tamales and barbecue. Rodriguez says he’ll keep some Perk items as well.

“We’re going to take some spins off some of the most popular things.”

Rodriguez and his family own the Red Barn at Lake Afton and also are opening the new Anna Murdoc’s Cafe in Sutton Place downtown. Rodriguez will run R Coffeehouse, and his brother, Gerard, will run Anna Murdoc’s.

“We’re pretty serious about … our taste buds,” Angelo Rodriguez says of his family. “Our passion is about providing good service (and) good food.”

He plans to do old-fashioned sundaes, banana splits and Italian sodas on the south side of the building.

“It’s so underutilized,” he says of that area. “It has been for years.”

Rodriguez is working with PrairieFire Coffee Roasters on several custom blends.

He plans a lot of music, including live bands and something called Soul Sunday when a DJ will spin old Motown tunes. Rodriguez calls it “just kind of a cool little vibe for Sunday.”

He calls Riverside a cool place with hip people.

“It’s a healthy, active, flourishing neighborhood.”

Rodriguez lives there and has a lot of memories of the Perk.

“That’s a real nostalgic building,” he says. “I definitely want to pump some life in there again.”

Rodriguez is planning a new color scheme for the space and making a few other changes to the interior. He won’t change the patio.

“That’s one of the coolest parts about the place.”

Rodriguez thinks the neighborhood will be receptive to the coffeehouse.

“We’re always going to keep people guessing,” he says of what he has planned. “We’re going to have fun.”