Cow & Sow Deli and mini grocery coming to the Renfro apartments downtown

WICHITA — Renfro residents, along with other downtown dwellers and workers, soon will have a taste of country cooking from Conway Springs.

Tracey Coln and Teresa Gerber now live in Wichita, but Coln describes herself and Gerber as “just the country girls . . . trying to bring some country cooking into the city.”

They’re opening the Cow & Sow Deli next month at the new apartment building at 612 E. Douglas.

Coln’s mother grew up on a dairy farm in Viola, which is Coln’s inspiration for desserts and side dishes with lots of cream and butter — thus the “cow.”

Gerber grew up on a farm outside of Conway Springs, which is where she learned her family’s recipe for German sausage — thus the “sow.”

“We were being silly,” Coln says of trying to come up with a name.

Joking about the Cow & Sow “caught on, and everybody loved it,” Coln says.

Coln, who owns Heartfelt Memories photography studio, and Gerber, who recently left Cessna Aircraft, grew up together in Conway Springs.

“We were best friends,” Coln says.

Gerber’s departure from Cessna is what’s leading the two to open the deli, which will specialize in take-and-bake sausage, sandwiches, side dishes and a salad bar that Coln calls “something fresh and unique and not just a basic salad bar.”

They’re also going to carry some grocery items, such as milk, eggs, toilet paper and toothpaste as a convenience to residents.

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Trove Total Body Studio to move to Renfro

WICHITA — A year after opening at the Finn Lofts, Janelle Robertson has decided to move her Trove Total Body Studio to the new Renfro at 612 E. Douglas.

“I am on the move,” she says.

Robertson is the first commercial tenant in the building, and she’s taking one of the live-work spaces but will use both areas for her business instead of living there.

Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, recently finished converting the former Victoria Park Apartments into the Renfro.

The building, which is named for a hotel that was once there, has 20 apartments, including several live-work units.

Robertson says she thinks her expanded space at the Renfro will be ideal.

“Just the configuration for me and what I’ve been doing here so far just fit better,” she says.

Trove offers facials, massage, chemical peels, body treatments and micro dermabrasion.

“Really just about everything you’d want in a spa,” Robertson says.

On the second floor of her studio — what typically would be the bedroom in the live-work arrangement — Robertson will have massages and facials.

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Renfro apartments ready to debut

UPDATED — There will be more than art on display downtown for the Oct. 26 Final Friday.

Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, also are introducing their new Renfro apartments, including some gallery space in the first floor hallway of the historic building.

The property was built at 612 E. Douglas in 1908 and once was home to the Renfro hotel. Most recently, it was Victoria Park Apartments.

“It’s a building that needed a lot of love,” Ramsey says.

He applied for the building to be on the National Register of Historic Places and was able to use historic tax credits in renovating it.

“We love being part of giving a building another 100 years of life,” says contractor Ted Farha. “There’s something pretty special about that.

“When it comes to sustainability or green building, really, I don’t think there’s anything greener than taking an existing building and bringing it up to date.”

There are 20 units, including a few live-work units with metal spiral staircases between the work and living spaces. There also are two commercial spaces in the front of the building. Those spaces are still available. Four of the apartments, including one live-work space, are leased.

There are unique touches throughout the building, such as original ceiling tins in some apartments, a garage door in one back unit and glass brick where another garage door once was.

Ramsey says he, Eyster and Farha Construction incorporated a lot of what they learned from renovating the Zelman Lofts building just down the street.

“The things that worked we tried to keep,” he says.

That includes open areas and ambient light.

“People will put up with smaller living space if we give them lots of storage, lots of shared light, lots of open area … and we give them nice kitchens and nice bathrooms.”

They found substantial savings by having Farha build cabinets in each of the units instead of buying them.

There are further savings for renters with high efficiency heating and air and LED lighting.

“We employed all the current technology that’s available to make this building as green as possible without going through . . . all the LEED Certification stuff,” Farha says. “It’s really satisfying to be able to do that. To create great living spaces for people.”

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Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey rename Victoria Park Apartments the Renfro and buy Newton property

WICHITA — Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey, in collaboration with Farha Construction, have started demolition work in preparation for restoring the former Victoria Park Apartments.

They’re renaming the 1908 building the Renfro after a hotel that used to be there. A faded “Renfro Hotel” is still visible on the east side of the building at 612 E. Douglas.

“I just said, ‘How about the Renfro? That’s kind of cool,’” Ted Farha says of renaming the building.

They’re planning 20 apartments – including five two-story spaces that will double as living and office space – and two retail or office spaces along Douglas.

Ramsey says the project will be a historic renovation.

“We’re going to get it on the national historic register,” he says. “It ensures the longevity of the building. It also opens up the opportunity to use … national tax credits if we choose to use them.”

Farha expects renovation to be complete in five or six months.

Eyster and Ramsey have purchased another historic property in Newton.

“We’re converting a medical building into some apartments there as well,” Farha says.

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