If you like coffee and books, you’ll love Buchbar
Buchbar is a new coffee place that will open at ‘t Zuid on Thursday September 18th. Although my knowledge of the German language is mostly improvised in times of need, it is not hard to deduct the meaning of Buchbar: a book bar. Being a newly graduated literature student, I could not wait to have a look so I met up with ownerKim Hertogs for an interview and a sneak preview.
Where did you find the idea to start a coffee bar annex book store?
Kim: I have wanted to open a business for the longest time, but when I took part in a start-up meeting, I got the extra push to begin something on my own. First, I needed to reflect on which of my skills I wanted to put into good use. Berlin has a lot of innovative concept stores, which inspired me to start one in Antwerp. I loved the creative vibes of these places; they are filled with smart alternative ideas for young people. As soon as I had decided that I wanted to open a concept store, I simply combined two of my favorite things to get to the main idea of the Buchbar. I love reading and I also have a soft spot for collecting journals so that is why I wanted to offer a range of literature and beautiful notebooks. At last I found this magnificent building and then my ideas could become reality.
Do you want to keep a balance between the book shop and the coffee bar?
Kim: I do not know yet. It is both a coffee bar and a book shop, but only time will tell which part will get more emphasis. The concept is very relaxed: visitors do not have to buy a coffee and a book or the other way around. People can just walk in and have a look.
In what aspect are the books that you sell unique?
Kim: It is not my goal to compete with chain book stores such as Fnac or Standaard Boekhandel. I want to offer my personal selection of books. On our shelves are well-known books and hidden gems. I hope visitors will discover and love my favorite novels. Buchbar is unique to other book stores in the way that it gives a personal story and a one-on-one customer service. We will also offer a client’s card which will reward loyal customers. In the course of time we will get to know our visitors better, which will make us able to match their interests with our book supply. I think that the key aspect of owning a store is sharing your passion through personal contact.
Are you taking the coffee bar as serious as the book store?
Kim:I certainly do. At Normo I did a barista training: Jens Oris really is my coffee tutor. He maintains our coffee machine and he is always on call when the right technique to make coffee has slipped my mind. It is comforting to have such a good support close-by. The quality of our coffee has to be top-notch; it’s not just a fun extra. That is why I rely on Normo’s coffee beans. Jens personally selects and roasts them.
Why did you choose for Antwerpen-Zuid?
Kim: Actually I wanted to find a place near Sint-Paulusplaats or Vrijdagmarkt, but then I came across this elegant building at ‘t Zuid. I first feared that this neighbourhood would be a bit too posh for the more alternative idea that I had in mind. My boyfriend convinced me that I could blow a breath of fresh air in the area. I hope that people who search for a new experience find their way to Buchbar.
Buchbar: Scheldestraat 79, 2000 Antwerpen Opening on Thursday Sept. 18 from 18h.
Text and Pics by Tine, one of three AntwerpenStreetsyle.com-ladies
Picture: copyright Charlie De Keersmaecker