Bookstores long ago morphed into places where we could eat, drink, or chat while pondering book purchases. What a relief this was for those who want to linger! The hybrid model of books plus something else is thriving nationwide, and we have a prototype of this model smack in the middle of Amelia Island.
Each word in the name is meaningful: Story & Song Neighborhood Bookstore Bistro offers storyteller performances, music jams, neighborhood happy hours, author visits, and the bistro! In early 2018, Story & Song opened, but then six months ago, owner Donna Paz Kaufman asked storyteller Rachel Tyler to open a bistro inside the bookstore. A bibliophile with a background in catering and cooking, Rachel plotted out a literary-themed menu.
Local author Mandy Haynes was just the person to lunch with me at Story & Song. Donna and Rachel told their story while Mandy and I tasted. We opened with Hibiscus Iced Tea, a gorgeous red color with tart flavor. On this day, the Seasonal Secret Garden Salad featured peaches, feta, and toasted almonds with house-made champagne vinaigrette. Our Life of Pi Grilled Cheese Panini was a melty fall celebration of fresh apple slices, white cheese, and house-made beer jam, all on a grainy bread.
Changing daily, this day’s Little Paris Bookshop Slice of Quiche was complex and deeply satisfying, with apple, fennel, and Swiss. Our sandwich was not the hearty Camino Island Turkey & Cheddar Bagel, but elegant rose preserves with sheep cheese on challah bread. We really could see and taste little bits of rose petals in the preserves!
One day I’ll have breakfast of locally roasted Bookstore Blend coffee with a Year in Provence Croissant Sandwich. For light fare, there’s the Eat, Pray, Love Hummus & Flatbread or Under the Tuscan Sun Fruit & Nuts. Meatier fare includes Prince of Scribes Steak Flatbread. Enjoy your salad days with The Giving Tree Kale Salad, Story & Song Cobb Salad, or my partner’s favorite, Bistro Salad Trio.
Story & Song does soup, too. When Covid hit, they began a soup subscription service for their strong core of regular customers. Rave reviews turned this into an annual event, with the 2022 season beginning in early October. It’s just one of the many events that are filling up their calendar, and yours, too, they hope.
If it seems that Story & Song is interwoven into the needs of the community, this is just what Donna envisioned. “Books, food, wine, art, painting, gifts, concerts, cinema – it’s about culture, the enrichment of all of our lives.” Story & Song’s cobblestoned courtyard and upstairs event space “The Second Story” provide room for Donna to make her visions into real life. Fancy a concert, performance, lecture, presentation, story time, TED Talk, yoga session, literary luncheon, or food & wine dinner? Story & Song has all of these.
Story & Song Center for Arts & Culture charitable foundation launches officially in November, adding another layer of meaning. Anticipate a whole month of events, connections, and author visits. “Some people want to have a drink alone or they live alone; others seek events and activities. At Story & Song, all can feel comfortable and included.” Story & Song is located at 1430 Park Avenue. The Bistro is open until 2 p.m. daily.