White Plains Library is opening a new cafe.
White Plains Library's new cafe opens next week.(Photo: Rich Liebson/The Journal News)
WHITE PLAINS - Patrons of the city's library will soon be able to enjoy conversations, sip Barista-brewed coffee and munch on light foods when the new "Everyday Healthy Cafe" opens next week.
A years-long renovation and re-invention of the four-decade-old White Plains Library resulted in the opening of "The Trove" children's library in 2005 and "The Edge" library for teens in 2013.
Since then, there have been renovations throughout the building, including the creation of a community meeting room, smaller conference rooms and office space.
"Our redesign is focused on meeting the needs of adults," Director Brian Kenney said. "We've made it exciting for our young people, and now we want to make it exciting for adults."
Enter the cafe — a public-private partnership between the library, city and Sam's of Gedney Way. The restaurant has similar facilities at White Plains Hospital and the hospital's Center for Cancer Care.
Peter Herrero, the restaurant's owner, "has lived in White Plains his whole life and is involved in a lot of community-related activities," said Joe Sasso, executive chef at Sam's. "When he heard that the library wanted to open a cafe, he jumped at the opportunity."
He said the cafe, in keeping with its name, will offer fresh, healthy drinks and snacks.
The cafe had a soft opening this week in preparation for its grand opening, scheduled for 11 a.m. on May 9. The cafe will be open from 7:30 a.m. to library closing time, but may begin opening at 6:30 a.m. if the demand is there.
"I think it's a fabulous idea, and I hope it does very well," said Vanessa Greenbaum, who was at the library Thursday with her toddler grandson for "Trove Time," a literacy playtime program. "I'd love to get some coffee or tea while I'm here."
The bright, spacious cafe seats about 20, with tables and chairs for another 16 patrons outside, weather-permitting. The cafe offers a variety of coffees, teas, smoothies and other drinks, along with "grab and go" foods including breakfast sandwiches, paninis and more.
Adding to the cafe's ambiance is the Friends of the White Plains Library used book store, also located in the space once occupied by periodicals and microfilm machines. A browser's delight for decades, the store offers an eclectic mix of gently used books, all priced at $1 or less.
"We're fortunate in that we have a very large facility, so we had space to work with in creating the cafe," Kenney said. "People love used book stores, so putting them together is a nice combination."
In all, some $2.5 million was spent on the recent improvements. That included a $1 million donation from an anonymous benefactor, a $1 million match from the city and $500,000 raised by the White Plains Library Foundation.
The result, Kenney said, is a revitalized community destination.
"In the digital age, I think people are looking for ways to come together," he said. "People want to connect face-to-face, especially if they've been sitting in front of a screen all day."
Visit whiteplainslibrary.org to learn more about the library's programs and events.