Barnes & Noble Inc. will open its new-concept store in the Galleria Tuesday, one with a full-service restaurant and bar aimed at getting people to stay longer.
The 21,500-square-foot store on the lower level replaces a 38,000-square-foot store in the upscale mall in Edina.
“It’s clear the community wants retail-tainment,” said David Deason, vice president of development for Barnes & Noble. “It’s more conversational and more customer-focused.”
The 100-seat cafe, restaurant and bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with prices ranging from $5 to $7 for sides such as tabbouleh and potato purée to $16 to $26 for a brisket burger or slow-cooked short ribs.
“We don’t look like a typical restaurant,” said Jaime Carey, president of development for the newly created restaurant division. “It’s more casual seating in the front with a community table and power stations for devices, then a conversational lounge area, and more traditional seating in the back.”
Barnes & Noble executives are counting on people meeting a friend for a drink at the bookstore, social interaction that its online rival Amazon.com hasn’t duplicated.
The Edina location is one of four around the country where Barnes & Noble is testing the idea. It opened one such location in Eastchester, N.Y., last week. Others will open soon in Folsom, Calif., and Loudoun County, Va.
The New York-based retailer partnered with AvroKO and the Branstetter Group to design Barnes & Noble Kitchen. Sheamus Feeley, chef consultant for Branstetter, created the menu, which is standardized at the four locations but may be somewhat localized later.
Deason expects that as many as 100 of the 638 locations could be relocated or revamped to accommodate the smaller footprint with a larger food and beverage section. One candidate: the company’s store at the Mall of America.
Bookstores, including Barnes & Noble, have steadily lost market share in the past 10 years. In the quarter ending Oct. 29, Barnes & Noble’s sales declined 3.5 percent. Nook sales are faltering. The former cafe concept has also underperformed, Deason said, and provided less than 10 percent of revenue. He hopes the new concept will move the cafe above the 10 percent level.
Books generate 60 percent of company revenue. Gifts, music, DVDs, toys and games provide another 20 percent.
The new design, brightly lit with ash and walnut wood accents, includes outdoor views from one wall. Large, southwest-facing windows with a sprawling contemporary chandelier provide casual seating for visitors near the music section. The album selection is slightly expanded but the significantly downsized music department sells only a handful of CDs. Departments for teens and manga, or Japanese graphic novels, have been expanded.
The customer-centric design includes plenty of casual, comfortable seating. “This is a departure for us,” said Deason. “It’s not grab-and-go, but sit-and-stay.” In the spirit of customer service, salespeople will carry sales tablets that can take payment anywhere in the store and also place online orders.
More than 20 wines are listed and six Minnesota craft beers are on tap, including Lake Monster, Surly, Indeed, Bent Paddle, Summit and Brau Brothers. But shoppers won’t be able to carry a glass of wine or beer around the store.
The new store takes over space in the Galleria that was formerly occupied by Len Druskin, California Closets and Bang & Olufsen.
The chain’s former Galleria store closed last week after 25 years in the same spot. That space is expected to be filled by eight to 10 new tenants, including a restaurant. Pirch, a San Diego-based kitchen and bath retailer, is a rumored contender.