July 15, 2013

A Literary Salon for the 21st Century in Oakland, California


Rebecca Grove, a former high school English teacher with over a decade of experience in educational policy and non-profit organization, wants to re-invent the literary salon of the 1800s—what she defines as “a gathering of people led by an inspiring host, held for amusement and to increase the knowledge of participants through conversation.” Her 21st century version based in Oakland, California will be called The Octopus Literary Salon, and will throw in a bit of the “public house” or “pub” tradition, to include a café, a small-scale specialty bookstore and publisher, and a space for public readings and discussions.

Combining $30,000 in the bank, plus funds from an indiegogo campaign that ends this week, and a SBA loan through the OPEN Business Development program, Grove has posted the venture’s executive summary, full business plan, and financials online as part of the fundraising campaign. According to the plan, “Café sales of coffee & tea, beer & wine, and food will comprise 80% of The Octopus’ projected revenues; book sales, 15% and salon programs 5%.” Grove quit her day job and is now working full time on the project, expecting to open by the beginning of 2014. She’s also assembled a team for programming:

Alexeis Filipello of Bar Dogwood and Consulting will provide professional services in the areas of café startup and design. Christopher Bloomfield will direct the literary programming, ordering, stocking, inventory and management of book sales.  As the founding manager of Atlantis Books in Santorini, Greece, Chris has coordinated readings and food festivals and film festivals, including children’s events. Dr. Mike Linn, a local pediatrician and local live music blogger, will be responsible for live music programming on Saturday nights and promotion for children’s programs on Sundays.

Rebecca Grove has been hosting literary salons for her friends for the past five years— “gatherings where people read snippets of stories, discuss books, write short plays, and act things out, just for each other.” She told the East Bay Express, “It was in my living room, but it was a way to build momentum and offer people a pub-like setting to celebrate literature in any form.” Moving out of her living room and into a space in Uptown Oakland—a lively neighborhood with fine dining and nightlife—will allow The Octopus Literary Salon to wrap its tenticles around the whole community.



Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.