Andre’s Confiserie Suisse, now in its third generation just south of the Country Club Plaza, has waited nearly a decade to add a wine and coffee bar.
Now as the lounge gears up for an Oct. 18 grand opening, the wait couldn’t have been timed better.
The economy has improved, and Andre’s soon will benefit from built-in traffic at the new luxury 176-unit apartment complex, 51 Main, now under construction just to the south. Residents are scheduled to move in next spring.
Flexibility has been key to Andre’s six decades of operations.
Andre’s founders, Andre and Elsbeth Bollier, left Basel, Switzerland, for Kansas City in 1955. Before the end of that year, they had opened a shop just north of the current location.
But Kansas City was a meat and potatoes town that mostly wasn’t acquainted with the Swiss confections. So the Bolliers started serving lunch with a dessert included in the price, winning over customers with a taste of their pastries and tortes, and then having them return for more, including fine Swiss chocolate candies.
They later offered other fresh-baked goods that were scarce in Kansas City — French bread, croissants and brioche, as well as puff pastries.
Their son, Marcel Bollier, took over the business when Andre died in 1985. Now he owns the location at 5018 Main St. with his wife, Connie, his sister, Brigitte Gravino, his mother, his son, Rene, and Rene’s wife, Nancy. The family also owns the Overland Park Andre’s, which opened in 2002.
For the new lounge, they took down a wall of the retail shop, converting the former office and production space behind and putting in floor-to-ceiling windows. The retail shop also was remodeled so the two spaces would blend seamlessly.
Andre’s hired four more full-time employees and three part-time workers to help staff the lounge.
It serves a variety of goodies, including breakfast pastries, yogurt and house-made granola, charcuterie plates, signature salads and soups, beef popovers, ham and Gruyère croissants, chicken salad on brioche, and spinach quiche, as well as desserts such as truffle tortes and lemon tartlets, as well as any of the offerings in the retail section.
Drinks include espresso, café au lait, lattes, cappuccino, mocha, hot chocolate, hot teas, fresh-squeezed orange juice, mimosas, and Bailey’s and coffee.
The Bolliers assembled a wine list with high-quality selections that have special meaning to them. They offer mostly European and American wines for their Swiss and American ties. Some examples: a Chianti that was the go-to wine for Marcel’s uncle when the family dined out in Switzerland, and a California Cabernet Franc from a vineyard co-founded by a former Andre’s employee.
Since the lounge’s soft opening earlier this month, it has drawn commuters in the morning — who want to pick up a coffee and a pastry or lunch to eat at their desk — to an after-dinner crowd seeking desserts and wine in a quiet atmosphere.
“There’s no TV, so people can speak, relax,” Marcel Bollier said.
Andre’s also has opened a patio and has a new parking lot with more than 50 spaces.
Now customers are asking for a return of fondue nights.
“We’ve discussed doing two or three annually, but not before next year,” said Rene Bollier, president of the company.
The hours for the new coffee shop and wine bar are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Andre’s is closed Sunday.
Andre’s tea room will continue to operate in the back of the space, serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
In other retail news: 51 Main, at 5050 Main, also will have 10,000 square feet of retail facing Main Street and hopes to sign two restaurant tenants. It will have garage parking for retail customers.