Archestratus, the food bookstore and cafe on Huron Street, has been open for a few months now. We last updated you upon its opening in October 2015, so we thought it was time to pop into the store for a chat with owner Paige Lipari, who has exciting new plans for Greenpoint.
Greenpointers: How’s it going so far with sales?
Paige Lipari: It’s been growing really steadily. Every time we have an event, it just fills up. I’m going to introduce a lunch menu soon that I’ve been working on the past few weeks. I’m hoping it’ll bring more people in on weekdays in the middle of the day.
GP: Is it pretty packed in here on a weekday?
Paige: Yeah, a lot of people from the neighborhood are here on the weekdays working on their laptops and having meetings with people.
GP: What’s the crowd like on weekdays versus weekends?
Paige: On weekdays, it’s more local people coming in to have a break from home, to read and have some coffee. On weekends, there are tons of people from all over, from Manhattan and everywhere.
GP: Have you been surprised by anything?
Paige: I’ve been surprised that it’s really working. The fact that that’s happening is the most surprising, delightful thing. I wanted to get away from the computer, and have more of a human exchange. People come here and sit at the tables and there’s often a community conversation going on. That was my dream, but the fact that it’s happening …
We had the best Cookbook Club meeting last time. People are getting really excited about it. It’s hard in this day and age to know if people are going to participate.
GP: What is the Cookbook Club?
Paige: The Cookbook Club happens once a month. We just cooked from Balaboosta by Einat Admony. She’s an Israeli Spanish chef who cooks amazing Mediterranean food. We cook from it in advance and then bring a dish and have a casual conversation about the book. It’s not a lot of pressure, and if you can’t get it together to bring something it’ll be totally fine, whatever it is it is. I’ll always make sure there’s food.
GP: What’s your inventory like right now?
Paige: It’s probably sixty percent cookbooks and forty percent other. We have a lot of children’s books as well, a lot of magazines, and we’re going to bring in more zines. I don’t want to do too many gifty things – maybe notebooks and pens and a few basic kitchen goods, salt, olive oil, baking powder.
GP: How can folks make suggestions?
Paige: We actually have a space for suggestions up at the front. I love hearing from customers about suggestions. I want more zines and magazines. I’m always writing things down and trying to order them.
GP: What have relationships been like with locals, especially the food community?
Paige: I love the food community here! Everyone has been so sweet; every chef who comes in wants to do something. Everyone is down-to-earth. I’m not here to cash in on the Brooklyn food scene; I love Greenpoint and want to make a vibrant community. It took me forever to figure out where I wanted to be. I feel very lucky to have landed here.
GP: How do you keep the community engaged?
I wanted the bookstore to feel alive. I think that you need to always be bringing in new voices and giving something back to the community. You can’t be this one-sided business venture. There has to be a real communion – it’s not one sided; it’s an exchange. That’s what the best capitalistic ventures are. For me, I just have to do this. It’s really to create a space for the community, to be able to learn, to be able to exchange.
GP: Where do you go to eat and drink in the neighborhood?
Paige: I end up at Esme. They’re fantastic; their cocktails are amazing. I love the Autumn Garage cocktail. It’s amazing. Rye, nocino, angostura, blackberry jam and lemon. Nocino is a walnut liqueur. I love Troost as well. I love John who runs Troost. I need to go out more!
GP: Any events in the works?
Paige: We had an event with Charlotte Kamin of Bedford Cheese Shop, and an event with Warren Bobrow. We are gearing up for a lot new events in new year. I want to do a Greenpoint food tour in the spring, and have it start and end here. Maybe go to Peter Pan, go to Alameda for a drink, go to Glasserie, Eastern District.
Thursday night dinners have become more and more successful. Every Thursday night, I do a blue plate special of “meat and three,” and I always do it with Sicilian home cooking.
On every last Friday of every month, musician and artist Roy Hunter will host a series at Archestratus called SALCHIPAPAS. The last event was on January 29 and featured Jake Remington, Joe Sonnenblick, Kiko Bordeos, Public Speaking, Johnny Butler and Hunter. The series will feature music, art, film and food. Like Archestratus on Facebook for event updates and meet us there. We’ll be the ones first in line for all the food.