Story and Soil, the popular coffee shop at 387 Capitol Ave. in Hartford, is expanding to a second location inside RJ Julia Booksellers in Middletown, the co-owner said. It will open in late April.
Sarah McCoy, who owns Story and Soil with her husband Michael, and Michael Acosta, said Wesleyan University, which owns the Middletown R. J. Julia, put out a query in the spring for proposals for the space inside the bookstore, which caters to the community and university students.
“We were closed for the pandemic. We thought ‘we have time for paperwork, let’s consider this,’” she said. “Middletown has always had a reputation for being a draw for food. RJ Julia has a good reputation as the state’s best independent bookstore, so we immediately thought it was a good fit for us.”
Story and Soil at 413 Main St. in Middletown will have 1,000 square feet of dining space upstairs in the store, enough for about 10 tables in addition to sidewalk seating, McCoy said, as well as a 500 square foot prep kitchen. The Hartford location is 384 square feet, including indoor dining area and kitchen.
“It’s going to have a lot more seating and serve a lot more food,” McCoy said. She said everything that is sold in the Hartford location will be sold in Middletown, with many breakfast and lunch additions.
Hours in Middletown will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as during bookstore events and readings. The Hartford location is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends.
McCoy said the Hartford location is doing well despite a downturn in patronage due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We reopened in June. Summer and fall were good and we got our feet back under us. We were OK through the holiday but January and February were tough months,” she said. “In March we saw more people come out, but most of our state worker clientele go into the office only once a week now. It’s a different rhythm.
Susan Dunne can be reached at email@example.com.