Caenen Castle in Shawnee hopes to add to restaurant’s ‘unique experience’ with live music, menu changes

Caenen Castle

Daniel (left) and Carla Dyer, owners of Wandering Vine at the Castle, are planning to bring live entertainment as well as other changes to the restaurant and farm winery outlet inside the historic Caenen Castle in Shawnee. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

Live music is coming soon to the historic Caenen Castle in Shawnee.

After standing vacant for years, the castle at 12401 Johnson Drive now plays host to Wandering Vine at the Castle, a farm winery outlet and restaurant that opened last year.

No musicians or bands have been publicly named yet, but castle owners Carla and Daniel Dyer say they have a few local musicians in mind to bring the perfect ambiance to the terrace at the rear of the historic building.

“We’re really looking for soft, relaxing, easy-listening music, so classical, soft rock or jazz styles,” Carla said.

“Being the local historical landmark, I think that’s really the first draw for people here, is the building and its history,” Daniel added. “So we’d really like to build on the history of the place and the local flavors and the local atmosphere. And we just see ourselves as kind of a foundation of the community, a cornerstone of the community with being a local landmark.”

Weather permitting, Wandering Vine at the Castle will offer live acoustic music on the terrace, or bring the music indoors during inclement weather.

The Shawnee City Council on Monday unanimously approved a special use permit for Wandering Vine at the Castle to offer live entertainment, which is restricted between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The permit will be up for city review in a year. There was no discussion or public comment.

Growing business, expanding hours and prepping for fall

Wandering Vine at the Castle features select wines from Grace Hill Winery, a farm winery in the Wichita area. Photo via Grace Hill Winery’s Facebook page.

In addition to offering live entertainment, Wandering Vine at the Castle is going through some other changes in line with the season.

The restaurant just launched its fall menu, which is focused on “flavors of the season,” Carla said, noting that floral arrangements and other decorations add to the changing atmosphere of autumn.

Most importantly, the castle restaurant is now fully staffed with a professional culinary team, including a pastry chef, allowing the Dyers to expand their hours and serve more customers.

The castle maintains a partnership with Grace Hill Winery, a farm winery in the Wichita area, for the farm wine outlet.

Hours of operation are now as follows, with Wednesday through Saturday dedicated to lunch, dinner and wine tastings, and Sunday for brunch:

  • Wednesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 2 pm.
The Dyers purchased the building two years ago and made extensive renovations before opening the restaurant and farm winery outlet. File photo.

“Going through the pandemic, it’s been very, very hard to get a full staff, but now we have completely staffed, we have an extraordinarily talented culinary team,” Daniel said.

The new pastry chef prepares cakes for celebrations such as weddings and birthdays, and coming up this fall, will offer upscale desserts, including pies to go for Thanksgiving and decorated Christmas cookies.

The Dyers credits the “extraordinary, beautiful” building and atmosphere, for Wandering Vine’s growth over the past year, but they also say the support of dedicated customers has been vital.

“I think the thing that always strikes me is our customers come in, have a great time and they always say, ‘Oh, thank you so much for having us,’” Daniel said. “Well, this isn’t a dinner party, but people are just like that, saying, ‘We’re so glad to have been a part of this.’ It’s a friendly atmosphere where we all feel like we’re supporting each other.

“It’s unique for a restaurant experience. We’re close to our clients. We feel like we’re doing everything we can to give them a great experience, and they in turn are doing everything they can to make sure that we’re successful.”