The BookBar is becoming a book bed and breakfast, too.
The Berkeley bookstore and cafe is opening a guest suite upstairs from its store at 4280 Tennyson St. on Nov. 6.
Owner Nicole Sullivan, 42, is hoping to entice more touring writers to visit the store for readings.
“When we have authors that come from out of town, there’s no decent hotel for them to stay nearby,” Sullivan said. “It’s the independent bookstores that help up-and-coming authors.”
Plus, as much as she loves books, starting a bed and breakfast sounded even better than installing more shelves upstairs.
“It was more exciting to me,” Sullivan said. “And potentially, we could make more money.”
The new suite is part of a larger renovation to the store. In October, architecture and construction firm CGDB Home finished converting two first-floor apartments behind the BookBar into more shelf and reading space. CGDB also lead several firms that designed and installed a patio behind the bookstore. Zoning and permitting for the project started a year ago, Sullivan said.
Year-to-year book sales are up between 20 and 30 percent, Sullivan said, and some events are so popular that she has to turn people away when they try to reserve a chair. But every time the shop approaches profitability, Sullivan said she puts money into a new project.
Sullivan started BookBar in May 2013 after purchasing the two-story house, built in 1896, the previous fall for $685,000.
She had always thought a book and wine store would be a hit, so she added a bar counter on one end of the shop, decorating it with pages from old books. Today, the bar menu is full of finger foods designed for eating with a book in one hand.
“Book clubs love wine and author events are so much more fun with wine,” she said.
Sullivan is still figuring out the amenities for her bed and breakfast, but she’s planning to include a morning meal prepared and delivered by Denver Biscuit Co. across the street, as well as a neighborhood guidebook with discounts for guests in the store and at nearby businesses.
The one-bedroom, one-bath apartment upstairs includes a full kitchen, a private deck and washing and drying machines. The price is set at $150 a night on Airbnb. The room is open to anyone, but visiting authors can reserve it on a sliding scale.
These days, about half of the sales come from the bar and half from selling books, Sullivan said.
“I wouldn’t have opened a bar if it weren’t for books,” she said.