The ceiling lights are coming down. New wooden floors are coming in. The bar is being straightened, the book selection carefully curated, the Wi-Fi improved dramatically.
In the meantime, The Bookstore in the Grove hopes you’ll stop by for a browse and a bite.
Doomed to oblivion less than two weeks ago, the bookstore celebrated its rebirth and resurrection-in-progress Friday with an open house. Swarms of the curious arrived to drink wine, sample bites from the new menu by chef Adriana Egozcue (formerly of Eating House and Glass & Vine) and check out the early stages of a massive renovation, which will continue throughout the fall.
Reviews were not mixed.
“It feels so welcoming,” marveled Gail Hochheiser, who lives in the Dadeland area and echoed the main sentiment of the evening. “They’ve already decluttered the space. It feels welcoming, and it already has a good vibe. This is great. People need a bookstore.”
Former owner Felice Dubin, who opened the store at Mayfair 10 years ago, decided not to renew her lease on the store at 3390 Mary St. in the face of a rent that was doubling.
The store’s future was in limbo. Locals lamented the looming loss of yet another beloved Miami business.
In stepped real estate developer LointerHome, which is working on several residential and commercial projects in the Grove. LointerHome bought the 7,500-square-foot space for an undisclosed sum and plans to renovate it after business hours, between 5 p.m. and midnight.
Amanda De Seta, LointerHome’s founder, has a big vision for the store. Her goal: Modernize while retaining the homey atmosphere that Bookstore in the Grove patrons loved. She has kept some of the original furniture, but soon patrons will be able to borrow a power pack at the counter with USB plugs for their laptops. Wi-Fi will be improved, a nice upgrade, and story time for children will continue as usual in a revamped kids’ section (expect some new toys, books and games, too).
Former Eating House catering and sales manager Amber Rapicavoli will supervise the café, which will add beer and wine soon. The coffee selection will expand. There are also plans afoot for a weekend brunch and a pop-up oyster bar. Also on the table: a market where patrons can buy dinners to go and some of the items on the new menu to take home.
“The idea is if you have a sandwich with fig jam and like it, you can buy that jam to take home,” De Seta says. “Right now there’s no place around here to buy an artisan baguette. Where can you get an amazing olive oil? Here.”
For chef Egozcue, the new menu offers the opportunity to serve food she loves (fear not, patrons — empanadas are still on the menu). On Friday, she served samples of a dazzling burrata salad with pickled nectarine panzanella, bitter greens, mint and olive oil as well as cold corn soup, cheeseburger sliders and brioche toast with whipped ricotta, jam and black pepper. Other menu items include a mashed avocado toast with green mango, pickled red onion and toasted pepitas and one of Egozcue’s favorites, a toasted coconut granola with vanilla yogurt, passion fruit, mango and lime.
“It’s my first time to be able to do what I want to do,” she says. “The kitchen is huge. It’s amazing.”
But don’t worry, book lovers. The upcoming amenities are appealing, but books are still the cornerstone of the store, and that’s the way it should be, according to many patrons.
Vanessa Pinillos says one of the reasons she loves living in the Grove is that it’s one of the last true Miami neighborhoods — and a bookstore is vital in fostering the sense of community the Grove needs.
“I loved it here before, but we didn’t know what we were missing,” she says. “Now it’s spacious, bright. ... I can’t wait to see what all the changes will bring. It’s going to be a great revamp.”