The tea room at Andre’s Confiserie Suisse hasn’t changed much since it moved to its current building in 1976.
But when the owners decided it was time to make some upgrades, they gave their local architect, Kem Studio, a seemingly impossible task.
“Change everything without changing anything. That’s exactly what an architect loves to hear,” said Rene Bollier, third generation owner/operator and president of Andre’s. The restaurant wanted keep its loyal customers while attracting new ones.
Andre’s shut down the tea room for six weeks, and then tweaked the decor a bit since reopening it six weeks ago for an official grand opening Sept. 28. Longtime customers seem to be embracing the change.
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“They were apprehensive but very excited to see the flags go back up,” Bollier said.
The tea room was known for its flags — representing the 26 member states of the Swiss Confederation — hanging overhead as they dined. The original seating area under a chalet-like structure is back and the original Swiss artwork has been moved to the back dining area, which has a higher ceiling.
The tea room also has new benches, tables and chairs — with heart-shaped cutouts — by the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild, as well as banquette seating for larger groups and private events. New maple wood floors connect the dining room to the front retail area and coffee and wine bar. The coffee and wine bar opened three years ago.
“Our goal was to try to curate the history that was provided and what people are so loyal to, yet represent the new generation of Andre’s,” said Brad Satterwhite, principal of Kem Studio.
The tea room still serves its traditional lunch menu with customers choosing from two entree specials with sides or salad and dessert.
In October daily lunch specials will include meatloaf, croûte au fromage (french bread topped with a blend of melted cheeses), paprika pork, lasagna, ham and cheese omelets, beef pot pie, cod Florentine, bratwurst, pork loin roast and a cauliflower, ham and cheese casserole. It also serves quiche Lorraine and cheese pie as daily entrees.
Rene’s grandparents, Andre and Elsbeth Bollier, opened Andre’s on the block in October 1955, and moved it to another space there before opening in the current brick building at 5018 Main St. Rene’s parents, Marcel and Connie Bollier, joined the business in 1972 and took over in the mid-1980s.
The three generations still work together in the restaurant. Elsbeth lives next door, in a corner apartment with only the Andre’s parking lot in-between.
“She is in every day but she will sometimes sit on her balcony and yell at people who park in our lot and go to the CVS across the street,” Rene Bollier said with a laugh.