Get lit-faced! New Bushwick bookstore plans to serve beer, wine, coffee

Get lit-faced! New Bushwick bookstore plans to serve beer, wine, coffee
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

If they won’t come for the books, they might come for the coffee. And if they don’t come for the coffee, they’ll definitely come for the booze.

That’s the business model at Molasses Books — Bushwick’s first purveyor of literature in recent memory.

Even though opening a bookstore in 2012 might seem as fiscally prudent as penning a novel in a notebook made of $100 bills, entrepreneur Matthew Winn has taken the leap after padding the landing with a big coffee bar and a pending license to serve beer and wine.

“It’s proven that it’s still possible to maintain a bookstore if you subsidize it with other things,” said Winn.

Molasses Books sells fiction, non-fiction, and poetry — and Winn is planning to allow Brooklyn authors to offer their scrolls at the store on consignment. So far, much of the collection is used books, but the shop is building up its new offerings as well.

Winn is optimistic about the business, but he isn’t delusional.

“When people want a specific book, they are probably going to order online,” he said. “I know that.”

But he believes bookstores offer something shoppers will never encounter when they order books online.

“There is something communal about a bookstore, something tactile about it,” said Winn. “People go to a bookstore to go somewhere. And they want a reason to stick around after they’ve bought the book.”

That’s where the drinks come in.

For now, Molasses will sell only coffee and soft drinks until 8 pm six days per week. If he gets permission to sell wine and beer, the store will likely stay open until midnight.

Winn built his book collection during a year of selling literature on the street in places like Kensington and Park Slope and he’s ecstatic to finally have a brick-and-mortar store in his neighborhood — in part because he’ll no longer need to rely on his car-driving girlfriend to ferry himself and his inventory around the borough.

“Lugging around crates of books based on someone else’s schedule isn’t very sustainable,” he said.

The bookstore isn’t the only new Bushwick business to attempt to draw customers with suds as well as services: the yoga studio Cobra Club shocked the meditative world when it opened with an adjoining bar weeks ago.

Molasses Books [770 Hart St. between Knickerbocker and Wilson avenues, (631) 882-5188]. Open Tues.–Sun.; 8 am–8 pm, Mon.; 8 am–noon.