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Focus on Business: Books + beans = a cozy space

Like wine and cheese, books and beans – coffee beans, that is – just go together.

Two Grass Valley businesses are banking on the pairing: Summer Thyme’s Bakery is opening up a satellite location inside Booktown Books and Tomes at 107 Bank St., downtown.

Chamba Cooke, co-owner of Summer Thyme’s, said the new location is set to open mid-April; a definite date depends on when permits are granted.



Vendors at the cooperative Booktown “came to us and asked if we wanted to do it. And we said, well, no,” Cooke laughed. “But we checked out the numbers, and they panned out.”

Summer Thyme’s will sell coffee, sandwiches and food, Cooke said.




Having some fresh brew with which to browse the books is a bonus, said Hardy Books owner John Hardy, one of 13 vendors who share space in the Booktown collective and offer new and used tomes, records, CDs and art.

“There’s a symbiotic relationship between books and coffee,” Hardy said. “We’ve got a good relationship with them, and they do great food.”

“They’re such wonderful folks here,” added Amy Cooke, Chamba’s wife and partner in the venture. “They’ve been so welcoming.”

The space Summer Thymes will fill at 134 S. Auburn St. (the building has two entrances, through the book store and through the cafe) has played that role for several years.

Trish Farrow had opened Coffee Town in August 2007 featuring organic and Fair Trade brews, after the space had an earlier incarnation as Jason’s Studio Cafe. Farrow closed her one-woman show in January 2009 to have a baby boy, Amy Cooke said, and the property has been vacant since then.

The Cookes had supplied Farrow with bagels and will buy some of her equipment, Amy Cooke said.

And Farrow, now Trish Pickering and mom of 7-month-old Zane, will come back to work with the Cookes, she confirmed Saturday.

“I’ll be working around the baby’s schedule,” Pickering said

.

“That’s great for us to bring in her clientele,” said Ron Quintana, owner of Real Records – another Booktown vendor.

“It’s been a lovely, full circle,” Amy Cooke added.

Plus, the Cookes plan to create a cultural center in the space, with extended hours on weekend evenings. Downtown has few evening options other than bars and restaurants, Amy Cooke noted.

“Were looking at poetry and events,” perhaps including local actors in period costume reading from authors such as Mark Twain and Jane Austen, Amy Cooke said. “We want it to be a comfortable place to just sit and be. … We’re playing with a lot of thoughts right now.”

Hours at the downtown Summer Thyme’s will be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. It will be at 134 S. Auburn St.; the door to Booktown Books and Tomes is around the corner (or through the cafe) at 107 Bank St., in downtown Grass Valley.

City Editor Trina Kleist contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.


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