Barnes & Noble is opening its first newer and smaller format store in Texas on Tuesday with a full-service and bar restaurant as the dominant feature.
Books are definitely not an afterthought, but Barnes & Noble Kitchen is as much as a destination for something to eat as it is food for thought.
The largest U.S. bookstore chain selected Plano’s Legacy West as the site of the new format, the fourth of its kind among the chain’s 633 stores in 50 states.
The 10,000-square-foot store’s restaurant includes seating for 178 — indoors and on a patio — and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Local craft beers are on tap, and there’s a community worktable with outlets and table service.
Avocado toast, a mezze bowl with smoked eggplant and a “cowgirl” cheese plate are on the menu along with sandwiches and entrees.
“We’re working on weekend brunch too,” said chef Robbie Nowlin, who leads the restaurant team. Barnes & Noble hired Nowlin from San Antonio where he was executive head chef at Boudro’s Texas Bistro and Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar. Nowlin has also worked at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley.
The new store is only 1.9 miles away from a full-size Barnes & Noble at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco. The retailer believes there’s a separate customer base at Legacy West, said store manager Tommie Dewberry. “Stonebriar is more about families.”
The new store has 17,000 titles versus 35,000 to 50,000 titles in its traditional stores. Music was left out, but journals and art supplies are included. All the book categories are represented, including Texas local authors and a large manga and graphic novels section in young adults.
“We know there’s demand for the graphic novel category because it’s so popular at Stonebriar, but we also think business books will be huge here because of the corporate presence,” Dewberry said.
Having two stores that close together is more a reflection of what’s happening in Plano, said Carl Hauch, vice president of stores. “Plano is growing with different populations, and we think we’re serving a different demographic with this store. We’ll listen to the customer and adjust.”
The Plano store is smaller than the other three Barnes & Noble Kitchen stores that have opened so far. The others opened late last year in Edina, Minn., Folsom, Calif. and Eastchester, N.Y. and are almost twice as big. Another new concept store is opening in a couple of weeks in Ashburn, Va., but no others have been announced.
“We’re learning from these initial stores and looking at leases as they come up for renewal,” Hauch said.
Year*Stores openedStores closedTotal storesSales % change2010818720-4.82011**1167050.720120146911.42013218675-3.42014317661-5.82015013648-1.920160864002017310633-6.3
The book business is still evolving and finding the right experience is a challenge for all retailers. Hauch said people can browse the book shelves with a glass of wine or at events to discover new books and popular authors.
Independent bookstores have had a renaissance in recent years. A couple local of stores have opened to challenge the big chains, such as Interabang at Preston and Royal in Dallas and The Wild Detectives in Bishop Arts.
Barnes & Noble’s sales have been declining for years. It’s already been six years since its former rival, Borders, closed its doors.
Since late 2015, Amazon has opened 13 bookstores but not yet in Texas. The first is opening in Austin early next year in 4,500 square feet in the Domain Northside. Amazon has also announced a store is coming to Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown.