In an effort to boost foot traffic to its brick-and-mortar shops and keep customers in-store longer, Barnes & Noble Inc. opened its first concept store in Eastchester this month, a bookstore complete with a restaurant and bar.
After construction delays pushed the store’s opening back from a planned October unveiling, the nation’s largest retail bookseller opened the 22,000-square-foot store at 680 White Plains Road to the public on Nov. 22.
Situated within the Vernon Hills Shopping Center in a storefront that once housed Borders, the New York-based company’s new shop is home to the Barnes & Noble Kitchen. The 2,600-square-foot kitchen features a bar, lounge area and countertop seating along with traditional table service.
“If you just want a cup of coffee and a scone, and you want to sit by yourself with your laptop, you’re good,” said Jaime Carey, the recently appointed president of Barnes and Noble’s development and restaurant group who previously served as the company’s chief operating officer. “If you want to come in and have a full meal, that’s good too. If you want to have a glass of wine and sit in the lounge, you can do that too. So it’s a varied space.”
The restaurant’s full menu serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and features everything from beef burgers to artisan cheese and craft beer to wine by the bottle.
Carey said that adding select alcoholic beverages to the kitchen’s list of offerings was essential to the store’s success.
“If you’re going to create a place where you expect people to come have dinner and lunch, then having wine or some local craft beers just rounds out that experience,” Carey said. “We didn’t want to create a food and beverage experience that was just kind of half-way.”
The store also boasts a 3,000-square-foot outdoor patio, complete with a stone fire pit, outdoor seating and a bocce ball court. The store plans to host book signings, special events, concerts and wine and food tastings.
The Barnes & Noble kitchen offers an assortment of coffee, beer and wine.
The store is also introducing a series of technological advances to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for. iPad tablets are located throughout the store and can be used to pinpoint where a particular item is within the bookstore. Customers can also text any questions or comments to store staff via the iPads or check out without needing to wait in line at the checkout.
The additions to the bookseller’s typical brick-and-mortar stores are aimed at enhancing the customer experience and making Barnes & Noble a destination.
“We really are hoping this is a place that people come and relax and enjoy themselves,” said David Deason, vice president of development at Barnes & Noble.
The Eastchester store is the first of four concept stores to open nationwide. Other stores will open in the coming months in Edina, Minnesota, Folsom, California and Loudoun, Virginia.
The new eateries will expand on Barnes & Noble’s existing cafes, which typically offer Starbucks drinks and snacks and generate roughly 10 percent of each store’s business. Though declining to give specific projections, Carey said the expanded eateries are expected to perform “significantly better” and account for a larger piece of revenues.
Barnes & Noble executives are hopeful that these concept stores will provide a turnaround from the dismal figures the company has posted in recent years. On the same day the new Eastchester store opened to the public, the company reported a 4 percent decline in sales year-over-year and a $20.4 million loss for the second quarter.