Portsmouth Book and Bar progress

When we open at the end of October, 2012, the Portsmouth book and bar will house around 15,000 quality used books.  Specializing in Literature, Poetry, Music, Philosophy, History and the Arts, the bookstore will also carry books in over 50 other categories.  Here are photos of the boxes ready to be shipped from our warehouse.

Recent article in Portsmouth Patch on our Book and Bar project

Article about our up and coming project “Portsmouth Book and Bar” as written in the Portsmouth Patch.  Sadly, it is filled with factual errors, spelling mistakes and the like. But here it is in any case.


Portsmouth Book and Bar Hopes to Open Next Month

New book store/restaurant owners are in the process of transforming former Customs House building space into a unique cafe that will sell books and serve food, wine and beer.

John Strymish said the idea behind the new Portsmouth Book and Bar is simple: “People don’t go to book stores just to buy books anymore.”

He, along with his two business partners, David Lovelace and John Tetravato, have 30 years of book store experience between them and are in the throes of transforming 2,800 square feet of space in the former Customs House building into the new book store and cafe on Pleasant Street.

On Thursday morning, Lovelace said they are shooting for a mid-October opening and when Portsmouth Book and Bar patrons arrive, they will see a bar with 10 stools and cafe tables surrounded by book cases and book shelves that will line the walls.

Lovelace said patrons will be able to order a glass of wine, a pint of beer, coffee and menu items such as small plates of cheese and fruit, salads, sandwiches and soups prepared by Chef Amy Mehaffey.

Strymish said they also plan to hire 8 to 10 part- and full-time employees to operate the new book store/restaurant.

Lovelace said patrons will be able to browse books as they do in other book stores, but they can also sit and visit with their friends in what the owners hope will be a unique atmosphere that preserves much of the ornate historic crown mouldings that were part of the original building constructed in 1850.

Lovelace believes Portsmouth is ready for this novel book store/cafe model.

“Everybody understands what a book store cafe is, but no one knows what a book store bar is,” he said. “But to me, it seems like a logical leap.”

Lovelance and his two business partners currently own and operate Montague Book Mill in Montague, Mass., a book store/cafe that was created from an old grist mill, and he said the college students who attend the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and the rest of the community really like it.

The three men are also involved with the Raven book stores in Cambridge and Boston, Mass., and the New England Mobile Book Fair, Lovelace said.

Lovelace said he first had the idea to create the Portsmouth Book and Bar when he sailed into the city two years ago and realized it would be good place for such a business. He and his business partners later found the perfect space inside the former Customs House and signed a lease.

The Nathan Sargent architectural firm in Boston came up with the interior design for the new book store cafe that called for raising the ceilings to let more light into the space. Lovelace said they will also reuse a window facing State Street that was originally a door as an entrance way to an outdoor sidewalk cafe with alcohol service in the spring of 2013.

Terrance O’Neil, the project manager, said they hired the Portsmouth historic restoration firm of Adams and Roy to help them restore some ornate crown mouldings along the top of the restaurant/book store walls that had suffered water damage. O’Neil said their goal is to create a modern book store cafe that retains as much of the former Customs House’s character as possible.

One feature about the Customs House building that O’Neil likes is that it incorporated a great deal of structural steel. He said there is also coffered brick on each floor.

Strymish said the new book store restaurant will offer patrons wi-fi so they can use their laptops and tablets. They will also sell a wide selection of used books along with cards and journals.

When asked why he believes the Portsmouth Book and Bar will do well when it opens, Strymish replied, “It just seems like what people want.”