Groundbreaking participants at NICHE ceremony

WICHITA, KAN – On Wednesday, WSU Tech announced plans to open the National Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Education (NICHE) in the historic Henry’s building located in downtown Wichita. The property will be renovated to feature state-of-the-art commercial kitchens, classrooms, demonstration kitchen, an open-to-the-public food hall, student-ran café, and rooftop event center. Envision, a nonprofit who promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision, also announced a partnership with WSU Tech to create a first-of-its-kind innovation kitchen and culinary education opportunity designed to help meet the career goals of people who are blind or visually impaired.

“WSU Tech is proud to bring this new educational opportunity to downtown Wichita,” said Dr. Sheree Utash, President of WSU Tech. “NICHE will further build upon the momentum generated in recent years in our community and will create a synergy between our students and applied learning opportunities. Many of the spaces will be open to the public, and it is our hope that NICHE will become one of the top food destinations in the Wichita region.”

During the presentation, WSU Tech also revealed the new logo for NICHE. The logo was created by Wichita’s very own Gardner Design, who specialize in creating world-class brand identities.


The historic, 90-year-old building located at 124 S. Broadway previously housed the Henry’s department store and has been vacant for over twenty years. The building will be home to WSU Tech’s new culinary arts and hospitality and events management programs, with construction expected to be complete for an August 2022 opening. Included in the renovation of the property is a food hall that will be open to the public with plans to showcase items prepared by WSU Tech culinary students. The rooftop is planned to serve as an event space available for rent and catered by the students in the WSU Tech culinary program with event support from the college’s hospitality and events management program.

This development is one of four historic projects currently underway by the Douglas Market Development LLC. All projects are located along the William Street corridor and will bring new energy directly south of Douglas Avenue.


Envision announced a partnership with WSU Tech designed to meet the career goals of people who are blind or visually impaired (BVI). The program will be part of the new WSU Tech National Institute for Culinary and Hospitality Education. Within the blind community, there is limited training related to basic kitchen skills and nutrition. The program will offer courses that will teach students how to plan and prepare meals, operate kitchen equipment, measuring, cutting, nutrition and meal planning. The goal is to help students live more independently and lead healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. As part of the partnership, the Envision BVI Innovation Kitchen will be located on the first floor of the newly renovated downtown building.

“The goal of this partnership is to set the new standard for post-secondary BVI culinary arts education,” said John Michael, Director of Culinary and Hospitality at WSU Tech. “We look forward to breaking down preexisting barriers and creating opportunities for this underserved community of budding culinarians.”

In addition, the program will also offer the first-of-its-kind culinary institute to offer professional culinary training to BVI students. WSU Tech and Envision will partner with expert chefs, architects and others to ensure the facility is fully accessible and meets industry standards. Curriculum may include culinary fundamentals, nutrition, sanitation and safety, introduction to the hospitality industry, modern banquet cooking, and baking and pastry skills. Additionally, the BVI Bistro will be located adjacent to the Innovation Kitchen and will be open to the public. The facility will open in Fall 2022.

“The Envision and WSU Tech partnership is a major leap forward in offering opportunities in culinary arts for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said Michael Monteferrante, President and CEO of Envision. “This is a fulfillment of our goal at Envision to make these areas more accessible and inclusive. In addition to being prepared for careers in the industry, students can learn how to cook at home and the vital importance of nutrition. We are honored to be on the leading-edge of this initiative.”


The WSU Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality and Events Management programs are new to the diverse degree offerings at WSU Tech. Announced in February 2021, WSU Tech will offer their first culinary classes to begin for the fall 2021 semester. This is a one-to-two-year program that covers a diverse menu of options, from artisanal breads and pastries to global cuisines classes. Classes will be temporarily offered at WSU Tech South and at the Boston Rec Center.  The Hospitality and Events Management program at WSU Tech began in the fall of 2020 and focuses on customer service, foundational skills in food and beverage operations as well as hospitality finance and human resource management.  The one-to-two-year associate degree or technical certificate options also include an internship course which allows students to apply classroom and lab experiences in the real world.

WSU Tech is currently enrolling for both programs and classes begin soon. More information can be found at or


WSU Tech is the state’s leader in modern technical education offering over 100 degree and certificate options in aviation, health care, manufacturing, design, information technology, criminal justice, and business. In 2018, WSU Tech was named the 2nd fastest growing college among two-year colleges by The Chronicle of Higher Education. WSU Tech serves as managing partner of the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) in Wichita, KS, and is fully accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a Kansas Board of Regents institution. For more information, visit

About Envision: Envision promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration for the blind and visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit