“We intend to study aggressively and thoroughly what we’ve done, what works and what doesn’t, and get feedback from customers and staff, to find a path for the future,” he says.
B&N Kitchens are open from 9 a.m. when the bookstore opens until 10 p.m. closing time, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Deason describes the concept as “very familiar, approachable food and beverages in a well-designed environment that allows Barnes & Noble’s long-standing customers to come in and enjoy the experience, more robust and enriched than the past.”
By providing another option of a full-service café, he says the goal is that “our customers will visit at times for just books, at times for the Kitchen, at times for events in the store, and sometimes for each activity.”
The Folsom and Edina B&N Kitchens are about 2,600 square feet while the Eastchester store, including an outdoor patio, covers 4,000 square feet. The Edina site seats 100 patrons, the Folsom eatery accommodates 140, and the Eastchester handles 80 inside and 40 on its extensive patio during warmer months.
The B&N Kitchens are woven into the bookstore, not apart or separate. Deason describes an alluring atmosphere in which patrons enter the eatery and can “sit down and enjoy a cappuccino, grab a glass of Chardonnay or great local craft beers.”
There are workstations where guests can spend extensive time dining, sipping coffee, and checking emails or working on their laptops. “Or they can sit back with a magazine or share a nice plate of guacamole with friends,” he adds.
B&N hired the Santa Monica, California-based Branstetter Group, a hospitality consulting company, and consultants AvroKO, to design the restaurants.
Consultant James Branstetter says B&N asked them to “develop a concept that had a sense of community with the bookstore.” B&N’s goal was to create a thriving eatery that was “casual, where you could grab a book, sit down in the restaurant and have a meal,” he says.