Wednesday, May 25 2022

A bookstore/café noir and a wine bar planned for Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood is moving forward with a plan to sell the city-owned building.

The two-story, 2,640-square-foot building, located at 1937 N. King Drive, is to be sold for $50,000 to bookstore developer Serendipity & Oak Realty LLC, operated by Cetonia Weston-Roy.

Weston-Roy plans to spend $162,000 to convert the vacant building into a Niche Book Bar, according to a new report from the city’s Department of Development.

The sale of the building requires the approval of the Municipal Council. It is due for consideration at Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.

Weston-Roy’s proposal first surfaced in August, when Bronzeville’s advisory committee recommended the project to council.

Weston-Roy, a local author and founder of the Black Authors Collective, told committee members in August that Niche Book Bar will focus on “black literature and red wine.”

It will cater to families with children during the day, serving tea, coffee and pastries as well as selling books, Weston-Roy said.

At night, Niche Book Bar will serve wine by the glass and host book clubs, she said.

The top floor of the two-story building will be used to host book club meetings and “Airbnb short-term rentals with an emphasis on no parties,” according to the proposal submitted to city officials.

“Niche’s tagline is ‘Find Your MKE Niche,’ and Niche will be marketed as Wisconsin’s only black-owned bookstore that also houses a wine bar, coffee shop, and rental space for community events,” according to the report. DCD.

The Sentinel Journal in 2020 chronicled Weston-Roy’s desire to open Niche Book Bar.

At that time, she was selling books by pedaling the Niche Book Bike at parks and public events around Milwaukee, “where she rolls out the collapsible shelves and lines them on all sides with literature by black writers or books. featuring black characters,” according to the story. .

“His dream is to turn the rolling shop into a real brick-and-mortar store in Bronzeville, the historic nexus of black culture and entrepreneurship in the city,” he said.

Weston-Roy is the author of The Misadventures of Toni Macaroni series of children’s books.

The Reader’s Choice, the last black-owned bookstore in Milwaukee, closed in 2017 after 28 years of operation. It was at 1950 N. King Drive.

Tom Daykin can be emailed to [email protected] and follow-up instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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