KATONAH, N.Y. -- A year ago this week, Bedford's Gretchen and Peter Menzies became Katonah merchants when they acquired what is now called Little Joe's Coffee & Books. Since then they have made several changes, including an expansion of offerings.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Voice, the husband and wife talked about additions that include new gift items, a significant expansion of books -- adult books, in particular, are more numerous -- and new food items.
Gretchen Menzies recalled how customers reacted to the changes.
“I think they were nervous at first but now people come in and they’re thrilled," she said.
The new owners also made a name change. The pair acquired what was previously two shops housed in one building: Little Joe's Books, which focused on children's reading material, and NoKa Joe's, which offered food. The shops were previously owned by Jennifer Cook.
Recalling how it has been since the acquisition, Peter Menzies said, “it’s been a lot of work and it’s been a lot of fun work.”
While there have been numerous headlines over the years about the decline in brick-and-mortar bookstores, Little Joe's has bucked the trend. Asked how the store stands out, Gretchen Menzies explained that people like it as a community spot and because it is local. She also thinks that there is a sense of trust from people to help pick books for kids.
“You know, they really trust us with what their kids are reading," she said.
The store will be holding an anniversary party on Thursday, Dec. 4. It is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include refreshments.
Little Joe's, which is at 25 Katonah Ave., will soon have a sister shop. The owners plan on opening a new eatery called Katonah Reading Room , a cafe that will be at 19 Edgemont Road and is expected to open in January or February.
Discussing the new venture, Peter Menzies explained that renovation of the building is happening. He described the upcoming restaurant as a "sister business to Little Joe's."
Katonah Reading Room, named after one of the hamlet's earliest libraries, will include breakfast, lunch, and food and craft beer to take away, according to Peter Menzies.
A new chef, Abigail Einstein, has been hired for Katonah Reading Room and is already cooking for Little Joe's, Peter Menzies mentioned. Her experience includes having worked at The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges.
In an early sign of crossover between the two shops, the anniversary celebration for Little Joe's is slated to have refreshments from Katonah Reading Room.
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