By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — As visitors were “oohing” and “aahing” over the new culinary institute which opened for classes last week in downtown Niagara Falls, the college’s book store has been drawing a lot of attention as well.
While the Culinary Institute of Niagara County Community College has yet to have its official grand opening - set for Sept. 28 - the new Barnes & Noble bookstore, which is unlike any other in the country, has been open for business for the past couple of weeks on the main floor of the renovated site of the old Rainbow Centre Mall.
And though the nation’s most popular book seller has been opening locations at colleges around the country for some time to take the place of traditional college bookstores, the Falls store has a culinary theme unmatched by the chain’s other outlets. The downtown location offers upscale cookware, best selling recipe books and a cooking station for culinary students who will share recipes beneath a giant television screen featuring Food Network shows.
“It’s definitely a hybrid,” said manager Dawn Everett, looking around her new store where students were busy purchasing their school uniforms, chef hats and aprons as well as books and kitchen gear they’re going to need for their classes. The institute’s Barnes & Noble has all of that as well as shelves of popular cookbooks, best sellers and magazines.
“We’re taking the love of cooking and mixing it with the Barnes and Noble brand,” Everett said.
Like every other Barnes and Noble, there will be a cafe, but this one, called LaPatisserie, will be run by the students at the institute. There will also be the other standard favorites, such as free WiFi, and a Nook center for the chain’s popular e-reader. There will soon be a bargain book section, a children’s book section and a spirituality and religion section.
Everett said the store was stocked for three different audiences, including the students, residents in surrounding downtown neighborhoods and tourists to the downtown area. Any product not in the store can be quickly ordered, Everett added.
There will be school merchandise, marked with the distinctive chef’s hat logo on gifts such as decanters and mugs but, like any other college bookstore, the school’s logo is also on items such as sweatshirts, sweatpants, golf shirts and baseball hats. There were also be enough cooking and baking ware and cutlery to satisfy students, cooking hobbyists and gourmet chefs, she said.
“You are looking at the creme de la creme of knives,” Everett told a visitor, as she pointed out a display of Wusthof knives from a noted German cutlery manufacturer, among the white ramekins and other serving dishes so popular for food presentation, and a wall of kitchen gadgetry.
Students in the store seemed impressed with the selection as well. “I’m very excited,” said Shawan Hudson, 17, of Buffalo, as she stood in line waiting to purchase her chef’s uniform. Hudson is a graduate of Emerson High School in Buffalo where students also are required to dress in chef’s clothing. She’s hoping to be a pastry chef.
The store, which is operated by the school, will add a level of activity to the downtown area that will be complimented by the several hundred students learning, shopping, dining and entertaining themselves downtown.
“We are grateful for Barnes & Noble’s eager willingness to create a store that fits in with the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute’s goals and mission,” said James P. Klyczek, NCCC president. “A culinary themed store where students and visitors can find the latest in cookware and cookbooks is certainly unique, but a welcome addition to the facility. It should greatly enhance the experience for visitors and ties in well with our soon-to-be opened retail outlets and community education kitchen.”Contact Features Editor Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263.