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Downtown: Gibson’s and True Brew join forces for bookstore cafe

Stephanie and Rob Zinser were shocked when Michael Herrmann proposed that they open a second True Brew Barista – inside his new Gibson’s Bookstore on South Main Street.

But they knew it was too great an opportunity to ignore.

“As soon as Mike walked out the door, we were both like, ‘Yes,’ ” Stephanie Zinser said of that first meeting.

When Gibson’s opens this summer at the former site of the New Hampshire Bindery on South Main Street, it will feature a True Brew Barista bookstore cafe.

“You couldn’t help but notice in this town that True Brew, out of nowhere really over the last couple of years, has developed this great operation, a huge following,” Herrmann said. “And they’ve actually done something that’s really hard to do in Concord. They did something cool.”

Herrmann announced last year that he will move into the first floor of developer Steve Duprey’s new building on South Main Street, nearly tripling the size of his independent bookstore.

While the bookstore now shares a building with Bread & Chocolate, the new space will not include a kitchen. That left Herrmann in search of a new partner to provide a gathering space, coffee and food inside his shop. Working with True Brew provided a “homegrown solution,” he said, by allowing the bookstore to work with another locally owned business.

The business owners signed a sublease agreement last week, and construction on the new building is expected to be complete in July.

The new bookstore cafe will have a look and feel similar to True Brew’s coffee shop in Bicentennial Square, Stephanie Zinser said. But she’s already brainstorming new ideas, such as food and drinks named after books and authors.

The Robert James (a latte with white chocolate and butterscotch), might be called “The Hemingway,” for example.

“We’ve already got a whole list of things going on that we’re going to do there that’s going to be different than here,” she said. “I don’t want that to be just a second location. It’s going to be an attraction all its own.”

The cafe won’t serve all the same products as the Bicentennial Square shop, Zinser said. But its selection will include signature items and the most popular flavors of coffee and tea.

And Gibson’s will maintain its relationship with Bread & Chocolate owner Franz Andlinger. Zinser said the bookstore cafe – and True Brew in Bicentennial Square – will sell Andlinger’s baked goods and pastries.

The cafe will occupy 1,400 square feet of the more than 10,000-square-foot bookstore, and will include an outdoor patio.

Herrmann said Gibson’s will nearly double its inventory in the new space, which will occupy the entire first floor of the new building.

“We’re trying to design a bookstore that’s going to be good not just for today, but for 10 years from now,” he said. “We’re trying to put technology in place and just be flexible enough that we can adapt to any trends that come up.”

He’ll also triple the space for special events and visiting authors, offering seating for up to 100 people.

True Brew’s shop will remain open to serve wine and beer during evening events at Gibson’s, and Zinser said she will also coordinate her hours with the Capitol Center for the Arts, offering a place to gather after evening shows.

True Brew’s expansion into a second location will mark yet another year of growth for the coffee shop that was take-out only when it opened in Bicentennial Square in 2009. They eventually added bathrooms, tables and food, and last year they expanded into an adjoining space, added a stage for live music performances and received a liquor license.

“You always look to partner with people who have vision and love to work hard,” Herrmann said. “That’s what you’re looking for, and that’s what we found in True Brew.”

Yogurt on Main Street

Self-serve frozen yogurt is coming to downtown Concord.

Nicolas Harriman has leased a storefront at 138 N. Main St., and plans to open the shop in May.

Harriman, a 23-year-old Canterbury native, said he worked at a frozen yogurt shop while attending college in New Jersey. After graduating, he decided he wanted to open a shop of his own in New Hampshire, so he created a business plan and presented it to his father. They decided it was “something that Concord probably could hold,” he said.

The shop will use Stonyfield yogurt and local milk to mix its frozen yogurt, Harriman said.

In “downtown Concord . . . people like local things, and I thought that it would be the best route for opening a business there,” he said.

Customers will use a machine to serve their own yogurt, then choose from about 30 different toppings and pay based on the weight of their serving, Harriman said.

He’s now in the process of renovating the store’s interior, which was most recently occupied by The Nutrition Station.

“It’s going to be a lot different than it was,” Harriman said.

Design shop to close

Your Home, Your World will close at the end of the month.

Meredith Gonzales opened the design shop on Main Street in 2006 to sell eco-friendly home products. She said the poor economy led to her decision to go out of business.

“The (economic) recovery’s been so slow, and I just don’t think consumer confidence is quite back yet,” Gonzales said.

She opened at 138 N. Main Street and moved in 2011 to her current location – 58 N. Main St.

“I had been kind of wondering throughout most of the winter if I needed to close and just officially made the decision a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

Gonzales, who lives in Manchester, said she opened her shop in Concord because she liked the city’s Main Street.

“I’ve just been trying to send a big thank-you to everybody who has supported me over the years,” she said. “I’m sad to go. I’ve made so many friends.”

The store’s clearance sale began last week and will continue through March 30. Gonzales said the sale items include floor-model organic mattresses for 50 percent of the normal cost.

Red River goes digital

Red River Theatres will replace its 35-millimeter projectors this week.

The nonprofit movie theater on South Main Street will close its two large movie halls today and re-open Saturday to show its first digital film. Red River will still hold limited smaller screenings and other events this week, said Executive Director Shelly Hudson.

The movie industry will stop producing 35-millimeter film by the end of this year or early 2014, Hudson said, making digital equipment crucial to Red River’s operation. But Hudson said moviegoers will notice few changes when the theater reopens.

“The majority of it is behind the scenes,” she said. “They may notice just a slightly crisper image. . . . We’re getting some work done on our sound system, so I wouldn’t say a huge difference but a slight increase in quality. It’s really all the behind scene pieces that will be large and a lot of work.”

The project cost $175,000, Hudson said. It was funded by donations, including a $125,000 tax credit grant from the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority.

Red River played its last 35-millimeter film – Cinema Paradiso – at a free showing yesterday afternoon.

Art and annual meeting

Intown Concord will auction artwork with Concord scenes – painted by Concord residents – at its annual general meeting this week.

The paintings include scenes of the State House plaza, views from downtown streets and an exterior view of the Green Martini, which closed after a fire last year.

The meeting will also feature live music, food from the Common Man restaurant in Concord and the presentation of Intown Concord’s community impact awards, according to a press release from Intown Concord. (The Monitor is one of Intown Concord’s corporate sponsors.)

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Carriage House at the Kimball-Jenkins Estate. Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

More on Main Street

The next public meeting about the redesign of Concord’s Main Street is tomorrow night.

The meeting will include an opportunity for groups and organizations to formally weigh in on the project as part of the federal review process, according to a public notice from the city.

Concord received a $4.71 million grant last year to redesign Main Street, and construction is scheduled to begin this fall.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the city council’s chambers at 37 Green St.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Intown Concord’s annual general meeting is Thursday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Kimball Jenkins Estate. An item in Monday’s Monitor included the wrong date, due to incorrect information provided to the Monitor.

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