January 13, 2015
Chicago to get a bookstore for foodies
by Nick Davies
This spring, Chicago will get a food-themed bookstore, Claire Kirch reports for Publishers Weekly. Offering cookbooks as well as a wide range of other food-related titles, the new store is called Read and Eat, and will open its doors in April.
Owner Esther Dairiam, originally from Malaysia, has lived in Chicago since 2011, and says she was inspired to open the bookstore by a similar business in Paris, La Librairie Gourmande (“the gourmet bookstore”). “It has only food-related books,” Dairiam said in a phone interview with PW, “as a person who loves cookbooks, I thought it was a great idea.” She says she’s been refining the idea for Read and Eat for a few years now and is currently hiring staff, including a bookseller, manager, and events manager.
The store is opening in a space that was previously an ice cream shop, and will be equipped with a kitchen/prep area for events like cooking demonstrations and lessons, tastings, and book discussions. Still, Dairiam says, “Even though there will be plenty of events and demos, it still very much will be about the book.” The kitchen area will occupy about 500 square feet of the total 1,950 that the store has, compared to about 1,000 square feet to display books.
Despite what Kirch describes as “Chicago’s famously competitive market,” Dairiam remains optimistic about Read and Eat’s prospects, saying, “I know that independents are becoming more prevalent these days. And especially with cookbooks, customers want to come in and look at what’s out there; they’re more hands on.”
Read and Eat is scheduled to open this April, at a location on North Halsted Street in Chicago’s affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.