How about a glass of wine and a sit-down dinner after you have picked up the latest novel from John Sandford? Barnes & Noble will be adding wine and beer and a full-service restaurant in its Edina store in the Galleria.
“We’ve worked hard to keep Barnes & Noble,” said Jerry Cohen, general manager at the Galleria. “They’re a strong performer here, and one of our anchors. It is important to keep that use in the center.”
Barnes & Noble will relocate within the Galleria, taking the spaces formerly occupied by Len Druskin, California Closets and Bang & Olufsen. A successor to the bookstore’s space has not been announced.
At an investor meeting Thursday, the nation’s last remaining bookseller chain announced that it will add cafes featuring beer and wine that are twice the size of its existing cafes in Edina; Eastchester, N.Y.; Folsom, Calif.; and Loudoun County, Va. The Edina restaurant will open before the holidays in 2017.
Nearly all bookstores, including Barnes & Noble, have been in decline for at least a decade. It was announced earlier this week that the Calhoun Village location of Barnes & Noble in Minneapolis will be closing later this year. The Nook division continues to struggle.
Details are still being released about the four restaurants, but they are expected to be led by an executive chef and double the size of the cafes first unveiled in the early 1990s, which feature Starbucks coffee, pastries and sandwiches. The cafes make up 10 percent of Barnes & Noble revenue, with the bookstore making up 60 percent, and gifts, music, DVDs, toys and games 20 percent, according to the Wall St. Journal.
The new restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Two Galleria restaurants already serve breakfast: the Good Earth and Peoples Organic Coffee.
Barnes & Noble in the Galleria opened in 1991. No other bookstores in the Twin Cities are known to have a liquor license, although alcohol may be served at special events.
In a sign that the company is committing serious resources to getting the dining push right, it announced Thursday that Chief Operating Officer Jaime Carey had been promoted to president of development and a newly created restaurant division.
In many ways, Barnes & Noble’s plan reflects broader changes afoot in brick-and-mortar retailing: In order to give shoppers a reason to hit stores instead of shopping online, many chains are making their outposts more experiential. That’s why you see Lululemon stores offering exercise classes, or why Samsung has opened a New York location that features a live DJ and a walkable tunnel in which the walls can be lit up with your selfies. Barnes & Noble is hoping that if a bookworm can linger with a new title over a glass of wine, it will feel more homey and welcoming.
The cafe changes aren’t the only ones Barnes & Noble is implementing to try to make its stores into more of a gathering place. It is moving to add more seating throughout the store so you will be enticed to curl up with your book, and it is doubling down on events such as hands-on play sessions in its toy and game department.
And the retailer promised to make other changes, too, to its merchandise assortment and display in order to drum up sales.
Based on the success it has had selling adult coloring books, it will open “For the Artist” shop-in-shops in 200 locations. These areas will include supplies for painting, cartooning and illustration. It will also roll out more graphic novels and go big with vinyl records, both of which showed strong sales last year.
And it is trying to reorganize the stores with better navigation. In some cases, that will mean simplifying signage, such as changing a section called “entrepreneurship” to just “business.” In others, that will mean putting items close together that are likely to appeal to a single shopper. So a new section of infant and toddler sleep books will be nearby those about baby food and baby sign language.
Includes reporting by the Washington Post.