White Rabbit reopens after renovations

While the café was under construction, Rabbit Hole Records, also owned by Medley and Kunselman, remained open downstairs. Photo by H.Carnahan/Setonian.

The White Rabbit Café and Pâtisserie reopened on March 1 after closing Feb. 5 for renovations. The hardwood floor, bathroom and front doors were replaced, and the countertop was also redone.

“Structurally, it needed to happen,” said co-owner Tommy Medley. “It’s going to be a surprise for everyone. It’s a lot more functional, a lot prettier. At this point, I couldn’t be happier.”

The café, which is popular with Seton Hill University students for snacks and studying, is located at 113 North Main Street in downtown Greensburg.

“The White Rabbit is probably my favorite coffee shop in Greensburg, as the staff is friendly, the coffee is delicious and there are always lots of good pastries available,” said Alexandra Gipson, a junior at SHU. “I can’t wait for it to reopen. I loved the appearance of it before the renovations, so I’m excited to see what they did with it.”

Medley opened the shop in 2013 with co-owner Amber Kunselman.

“When we first opened, we basically paid out of pocket for everything,” Medley said. “So everything [in the café] was done on such a shoestring budget. And we’re substantially busier than I thought we would be. Everything was sort of designed for about two-thirds of the business we do. As such, it’s not durable.”

According to Medley, the plan was to open as soon as they could.

“Three weeks without having customers is scary,” Medley said. “But we’re past the scary part.” Medley said the contractor found that the floor had not been replaced in about 80 years. Six other floors—totaling to three inches—had been put down over top of it, “all in various states of decay.” “The demo phase is always scary because you don’t know what’s under there.”

The “run-of-the-mill” bathrooms, which Medley said had a “disconnect” from the rest of the café, were redone to be “prettier, cleanable and more accessible.”

“The countertop didn’t really allow for an efficient flow of foot traffic,” Medley said. “It was set up basically for me to be back there only, which is not the case now. In fact, I very rarely get to be back there. It’s just not set up for that.”

Medley also plans on adding new menu items, both coffee and baked goods, in the updated space. There are a few “procedural things” in the shop Medley wants to do differently “both for quality and expediency” as well. One goal of the renovation was to increase accessibility for everyone and follow ADA compliances.

Throughout the renovation, Medley didn’t want to change the aesthetic of the cafe.

“Amber, she does all the pastries—She and I both have this fascination with Victorian quirk,” Medley said. “It’s not necessarily ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed. There’s something classic about that ethos, but also it was fun. The name’s obviously somewhat an allusion to ‘Alice.’ But again we tried to be moderately subtle with it.”

“I wanted it to feel like somebody’s living room,” Medley said. “So you’re comfortable, but it’s nice.”

SHU students also get a discount on their treats when they present their ID upon purchase. The White Rabbit is open Monday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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