Barnes & Noble opens its doors in One Loudoun Wednesday, and the local location will be offering up more than just reading material.
The retail giant's One Loudoun store will be the fifth location in the U.S. to sell wine and craft beer.
The 17,000-square-foot space combines a bookstore with the Barnes & Noble Kitchen, offering beer, wine and a "fast casual dining experience" where customers can order food at the counter and have it delivered to their table.
According to Christoper Louderback, the store manager, the bookstore has been designed so the customer has a "gorgeous open space" and "can see everything" as they look and wander around. Books are arranged so customers can see front covers rather than the spines.
"It's a wonderful visual selection," said Louderback, a Virginia native who has worked for Barnes & Noble since 2004. "You come into the store and you can see everything. This is a community bookstore. It's very expansive, it's not a library look," he added.
The store features usual offerings of fiction, non-fiction and bestsellers, with the store's color palate changing as readers approach the children's section. Local authors are well represented, and the nature and wildlife section is predicted to be a fan favorite.
|The new store will host book signings from local authors. Courtesy Photo|
Reading areas are plentiful, with the store promoting the number of power points available so customers can charge electronic devices, and if they wish, work there.
There will be regular children's story time, with a "Polar Express" pajama book-reading event slated for Dec. 1. Each weekend there will be book signings by authors from Virginia.
Louderback says there is a clear message of hospitality running throughout the store, and the Barnes & Noble Kitchen is a focal point within that aim.
Carl Hauch, vice president of Barnes and Noble, said the One Loudoun store is in some ways a "test model." Cafes have been a staple in store for the last 25 years, but the One Loudoun Barnes & Noble will become the first in the D.C. area to offer alcohol.
Still, "Books will always be at our core," Hauch said.
Six Virginia craft beers will be offered, including selections from Alewerks Brewing Co., Champion Brewing Co. and Solace Brewing.
The wine includes a Jefferson Viognier and Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve - both from the Old Dominion. Menu options include pastries, mezze plates with hummus and cheese and charcuterie boards. The cafe seats 74 people.
Barnes & Noble chef, author and restaurateur Ben Ford said customers can "grab and go" or can sit and have a more leisurely meal with more entrees available after 4 p.m.
Ford, who hails from California and is the son of actor Harrison Ford, said he is focused on locally sourced ingredients. He said he has found Virginia cheeses to be "outstanding."
"It's a great location to be in Ashburn, and the community is growing," Hauch said.
With the decline in brick-and-mortar bookstores, Hauch believes Barnes & Noble offers an experience that can't be replicated online, whether it be browsing the book shelves, or uniting food and drink with reading.
"There's always a place in the community for a great book store," Hauch added.