Recently I stopped in to visit with Mark and Donna Paz Kauffman and see what magic they had performed in opening Story & Song Neighborhood Bookstore Bistro. I had the opportunity to see the facility first-hand during the buildout, and I was looking forward to seeing all that they were able to do with the space that Artistic Florist used to call home. However, I was not prepared for how exciting and interactive a bookstore could be.
In an effort to attract new customers and hold on to the ones they’ve got, retail stores throughout the country have been dipping their toe into the turbulent waters of food service. In the bistro at Story & Song, Tonya Clark is preparing delicious food made in-house, by hand and with love, for island residents and visitors alike.
Fresh baked pastries, coffee and tea, beer and wine, and a fantastic menu that is ever evolving are reason enough to stop in, but the playful nature of the store, its inviting atmosphere, and its connectivity will keep customers’ appetites and imaginations inspired.
Later that week, I ordered a few items to pick up and share with the folks in the front office at Fernandina Beach High School, where I teach Culinary Arts. I called in my order that morning to save time and picked up our food just before noon. The menu at Story & Song is concise, with a focus on quality and good health, and it’s loaded with literary references.
The selection is perfect for feeding the troops a delicious meal without burdening them with too many heavy calories in the middle of the day. Today, we shared the Ham & Brie Bagel, Tomato-Basil Flatbread, A Walk in the Woods Wheatberry Salad, and a Turkey and Cheddar Bagel.
The Ham & Brie was exactly how it sounds, warm and ooey-gooey, dripping with melted cheese on a toasted bagel direct from New York. The flatbread was a hit, crispy and delicious, with fresh basil and tomato. I was excited to try the wheatberry salad. A wheat berry is a whole wheat kernel that has been soaked and cooked like a legume. Once cooled, these tiny fruits are tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs and served over a hearty mixed green salad.
Our final selection was a Turkey and Cheddar sandwich on an Everything Bagel, with lettuce, tomato, and red onion. This sandwich was heavenly. So delicious in fact that I have been back a few times to get one for myself. The bagels are some of the best I have ever had, and while I’m no expert, you don’t have to grow up in the Big Apple to recognize quality when you taste it.
Story & Song Neighborhood Bookstore Bistro is located in Amelia Park Town Center at 1430 Park Avenue, just off of South 14th Street. There is plenty of parking for a crowd. You may dine-in, carry out, or have a luncheon catered on-site. The store is open 7 days a week, and the Bistro serves daily from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays.